University\'s Kinky software release

By   |  December 8, 2004

The Free Software Innovation Unit (FSIU) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) yesterday released a public alpha version of its KINKY application framework and KEWL.NextGen e-learning system. KINKY and KEWL are Free Software and licensed under the GNU General Public Licence.

Kinky is an application framework that can be used to build any kind of application that requires a web interface, particularly educational applications.

KINKY is a recursive acronym standing for \”KINKY Is Not KEWL Yet\”.

\”The framework uses a model view controller design pattern, with a front controller handling the interface, and a completely modular architecture that allows unique systems to be built by combining modules in different ways,\” says system architect Sean Legassick. The code is written in PHP, and uses MySQL as the database.

Project leader Derek Keats says KEWL.NextGen provides a stable, scalable and extensible architecture that is meant to be the basis for building a truly next-generation e-learning system. \”It is designed from our research over the past eight years with development and deployment of our first generation system known as KEWL, especially in collaborative e-learning projects in Africa.\”

Paul Scott of the Free Software Innovation Unit, has also built a bootable distribution of GNU/Linux that includes a running version of KEWL.NextGen. Users can use the disk to boot any machine as a server and make KEWL immediately available to all other computers on the network.

Manager of the Free Software Innovation Unit, Melisse Benn, says \”this is the first phase in an Africa-wide collaboration of universities that will see us produce a cutting edge, next-generation e-learning system suited for our own needs.\” A beta release will follow shortly, with a stable release coming as soon as possible after the beta, probably around in April 2005.

Features of the system that are relevant for Africa include:
– the active dynamic mirroring of the whole system, including interactive parts, among different institutions behind low and fluctuating bandwidth conditions;
– a fully multilingual interface with an offline desktop system for translators;
– a fully offline authoring system;

Other universities participating in this project starting this month include the University of Jos (Nigeria), (Senegal), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Catholic University of Mozambique (Mozambique), and University of Eduardo Modlane (Mozambique).

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