Latest version of KEWL.NextGen

By   |  October 31, 2006

The latest version of KEWL.NextGen, a free and open source software e-learning platform, (learning management system) has been released.

The Free Software Innovation Unit (FSIU) located in Information & Communication Services (ICS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and the African Virtual Open Initiative and Resources (AVOIR) project have released version 1.4.0 of their KEWL.NextGen e-learning system based on the KINKY application framework.

This release is mainly a bugfix release that includes a few new features as suggested by the user community. The quiz module has been significantly improved in order to cater for real time testing of very large classes (around 800 students). Also included are some new modules, including a completely rewritten email module that has better integration with external mail systems.

“Although we are now focusing on KEWL Version 3.0, being implemented on the rewritten Chisimba framework, we will continue to support this version with bugfixes and minor upgrades for at least two years to cater for those who wish to run a sophisticated e-learning platform but do not have access to PHP5 or who do not wish to upgrade,” said Paul Scott, manager of the FSIU.

KINKY is a modular PHP application framework for the rapid development of applications. It can be used to build any kind of application that requires a web interface. By combining some of the over 200 different modules in different ways entirely new systems can be created without any actual programming. KINKY and KEWL are free software and licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

KEWL.NextGen and all KINKY applications run on any platform that supports PHP4, including GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OS-X, Solaris, etc. A PHP5 version, to be called KEWL 3.0, with numerous user-requested enhancements, is also under development for release early in 2007.

KEWL.NextGen is a viable alternative to proprietary learning management systems, such as Web-CT and Blackboard. Being based on a well designed framework, it is also an alternative to popular free and open source applications such as Moodle and the semi-closed community product, Sakai. KEWL and KEWL.NextGen are used in universities around Africa, as well as in Afghanistan, Iran, and the Philippines.

The project can contacted on the web at http://avoir.uwc.ac.za/ and the code is available under the GNU GPL and available for download via the AVOIR website. There is also a user and developer mailing list available to those wanting to assist or participate in community-based support. Several test sites for KEWL.NextGen and other KINKY applications can be found at http://kngforge.uwc.ac.za.

The parent project, AVOIR, is a project to build capacity in software engineering in African universities through the collaborative creation of free software. Aside from UWC, the universities which are participating in the AVOIR project are the Universityof Jos( Nigeria), Universite Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal), University of Ghana – Legon (Ghana), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), Uganda Martyrs University (Uganda), National University of Rwanda (Rwanda), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), Catholic University of Mozambique (Mozambique) and the University of Eduardo Modlane (Mozambique).

Financial support is provided by a research grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada The Free Software Innovation Unit is supported with research grants from the Department of Science and Technology (South Africa), Carnegie Corporation of New York, the United States Agency for International Development and UNESCO. Individual universities also invest their own developers in the project.

Comments

One Response to “Latest version of KEWL.NextGen”

  1. Joseph
    November 1st, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Hello, and congratulations on this release. I wanted to point out what I think is a potential confusion in your article, where you describe the Sakai software as: \”the semi-closed community product, Sakai.\”

    The Sakai project software is fully open, as you can see by going to the sakaiproject.org site; it is free for anyone to use, free to modify and redistribute. The license is an OSI-approved open source license. We have open lists for email and contributions, and open bug lists for all interested. We have open conferences where anyone can attend. We have a board election in progress as I write, where representatives from all our member institutions, educational and commercial, are electing new board members for the not-for-profit Sakai Foundation, as our governance is also open. So your characterization of a fellow open source effort as \”semi-closed\” would seem to me to be potentially confusing to your readers.

    I wish you the best of luck in your work with KEWL.NextGen. I think that the more open source alternatives there are out there the better. If you have any questions that I could answer to help clarify the kind of open source community that Sakai is, I\’d be glad to talk with you. Thanks,

    Joseph Hardin
    School of Information
    University of Michigan
    Sakai Foundation

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