The kuali foundation has been around for a few years now but only recently (since July 2007) started work on a student services system backed by 7 N. American institutions to the tune of more than $25 million over a 5-year period, with Carnegie Mellon and MIT digging deepest. At an initial glance, this initiative looks like yet another well-funded open source initiative and the sceptics will not be expecting much long term impact, although it is worth noting that the kuali board does include Brad Wheeler, co-founder of the reasonably-successful sakai project.
The timeline gives an idea of the scope and indicates that “curriculum development” is an early priority, something that is elaborated upon in the outline functional description. This seems a logical starting point but is far from trivial, being the subject of several recent and active JISC projects such as COVARM, XCRI and COVa. How well the kuali team can deliver in this area should be an acid test of the viability of the initiative.
A glance at the Technical Architecture Principles is worthwhile, both for what it says as well as what it doesn’t. It is very committed to SOAP web services and service orientation. On this front, I think the student services system effort will be useful even if it fails miserably: a contributor and proving ground for the principles of the eFramework. On the what-it-doesn’t-say front, the list of open standards didn’t mention IMS or other educationally-oriented group outside the US; only PESC was mentioned.
One to watch!