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Workflow as a service

Resources and forms are already available for Sakai tools to build on, could workflow be another one? Even a simple common workflow 'engine' could give great flexibility to the institutions/faculty that have to implement their commonly accepted and accredited evaluation process.

Workflow, to do what?

Many Sakai-tools have some sort of 'work from the student' that needs to be evaluated. It needs to be routed to the teacher, coach or any other type of evaluator. In the most simple scenario the work is returned to the student after one evaluation.

To handle this evaluation flow each tool has its own code and this approach has worked well up till now. It results in few code of low complexity.

Why change? What do we need?

Within the LOI we have a growing number of courses that require a more flexible workflow mechanism. Especially high stake tests and exams require a second evaluator to ensure quality of the evaluation process. LOI is not alone in this, that much we learned at the conference in Paris.

Each institution has its own way of doing things, and therefore there's a need for flexibility. To make sure that this is not to complex for the majority of the institutions, a workflow should be configured, not programmed.

How can we make it happen?

If we started with defining a common workflow engine including the most basic facilities, it would not be that hard to actually build it of find it in the open source community. Once it has come into use, there will probably be a number of useful additions to the functionality. Start simple and take it from there.

What makes a workflow engine 'evaluation centric'?

Workflow engines are based on a very general concept. They can be applied to any kind of situation, but can not do anything really useful at start. The functionality of a workflow engine needs to be extended with the process primitives from the target domain, in this case the evaluation domain.

Processes in the evaluation domain:

  • Review process
  • Evaluation process

Please note that a comment is not considered to be in a workflow.

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2 Comments

  1. Has anyone looked at Apache Forest? http://forrest.apache.org/

    1. Hi Alan,

      I followed the link to the forrest site. Is it a workflow engine, or closer to a CMS-like system? We (LOI) don't have a clear preference for a workflow engine, could be anything from a Ford, Volvo to a Honda. (wink)

      Feel free to add extra insight in the technology available, or the functional design for that matter. There is a lot to be done, and these pages are just first drafts.

      Cheers Hugo