Playing Well With Others: Using Web Services For Interoperability and Content Interchange

May 10, 2011 3:20 - 5:00pm

Dmitriy Babichenko Information Science, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Teppituk Krinchai, Civil Engineering, Lab for Educational Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
James B McGee, MD, Lab for Educational Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Web services are software applications designed to support over-the-network interactions between software systems. A web service is typically an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows one application to send or retrieve data from another application without knowing each other’s infrastructure. Most educational systems are developed with little thought for interoperability; therefore data collected by one software application is rarely available to other systems. Integrating web services into existing educational systems and building new systems with web service API infrastructure in mind, allows seamless cross-platform, cross-language and cross-institution interactions between multiple web applications. In the long run, this approach has saved us time and facilitated new educational opportunities. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Lab for Educational Technology utilizes web services based on the SOAP protocol to integrate our vpSim (virtual patient simulation) application with external applications such as Moodle and Blackboard, in addition to our proprietary LMS. Through examples, we will demonstrate how web services are used to efficiently transfer data between new and legacy web applications and even popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, to create a seamless user experience.