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Industry Weighs WebCT Open Knowledge Demonstration

WebCT has prototyped an application that uses the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs) for interoperability among higher education applications. OKI seeks to provide simple integration with existing infrastructure, encourage local innovations that can be shared across campuses or universities, and facilitate adaptation to new technologies without destabilizing the overall environment.

In the demonstration, the WebCT Vista academic enterprise system automatically synchronized calendars with Microsoft Outlook using the OKI authentication and scheduling OSIDs, or APIs, to exchange data. This would enable both calendars to be simultaneously updated by updating one.

"We welcome and applaud WebCT's initiative in using OKI's services," said Dr. Vijay Kumar, OKI's principal investigator and MIT's assistant provost. "The tangible and early participation of a company such as WebCT is an important indicator of OKI's significance for industry as well as a good model for industry's critical role in advancing open interoperability efforts."

Scott Leslie, an educational technology researcher and emerging technology analyst, who works on the project researching course management systems, said, "This probably d'esn't seem like much but in theory the promise held by OKI OSID support is much greater. If such support were to be found in even a couple of the major CMS players (as well as one or two viable open source projects,) the barrier to entry for discipline-specific or pedagogic-specific application developers suddenly gets much lower, as they can focus on their applications core functionality and not on re-building it to work with each of the different proprietary APIs."

Edward Walker, chief executive officer of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, said, "Early adoption of next-generation, open, eLearning specifications is an important contribution. Implementations such as WebCT's stimulate collaboration and real-world feedback, which helps the specifications evolve to better meet consumers' needs."

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