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Education And Research Becomes JELC

Posted by turbogeek on May 27, 2004 at 11:30 AM PDT

Education and Research Becomes JELC

Every once in a while you have something that someone else is looking for. You learn a skill and someone wants to hire you for that skill. You have a spare room, and a good roommate shows up. Well the Education and Research Community at java.net has the skills and the spare room and guess who shows up? How about the rest of the world? Europe to China and the African continent to the Americas, the leaders and managers of education are seeing java.net as a resource they have been dreaming about.

When the rest of the world is just outside on your door step, it’s time to clean house and get ready for the new tenants. That’s what we are doing this week because we are re-launching the community to reflect a new worldwide focus.

The Birth of the Java Education and Learning Community (JELC)

Our original Education and Research community is being reborn as the Java Education and Learning Community (JELC), a new java.net community. Extra support from Sun Microsystems along with the original community leaders will give researchers, teachers, programmers, authors, corporate trainers, administrators, public officials, students and others a place to find, develop and share Java-based open source educational tools, open learning standards implementations, and open course learning materials.

The idea for the JELC was formed March 1, 2004 at the first Lifelong Learning Forum in Madrid, Spain, a meeting where Sun's CEO Scott McNealy and 40 representatives from 25 Ministries of Education around the world discussed common challenges in implementing a policy of lifelong learning to develop individual skills to increase national competitiveness.

By merging with JELC, the Education and Research community brings over 80 Java-based open source projects in education, along with an active membership and established processes for working together as a community. Java has become universally accepted in higher education.

Over the last few years, governments around the world have been embracing open source as a means of controlling costs and reducing time to implementation. There have been few cross-border efforts at open source collaboration and sharing of best practices at an international level. The JELC seeks to break down some of those barriers to promote widespread adoption of Java-based open source tools and infrastructure.

All existing java.net Education and Research projects remain unchanged, except that they are in a different community now. The project areas of the JELC are modeled on those of the Education and Research, but there are some new areas (like Public Policy) and some things were combined (like Student Projects instead of Class Projects and Student Thesis). There will be more changes, but these will help us organize for the flood of countries joining our community.

Project submission and selection, community leadership, and community governance will remain the same as they always have been. The benefit to existing java.net members is that the JELC will provide a wider, more high-level exposure to Java-based open source projects that can really make a difference in education and learning on a global scale.

The Lifelong Learning Focus

Another focus is Lifelong Learning. Simply you should be learning your whole life. But what does this have to do with JELC? Simply that we are creating educational content and tools to help anyone learn whether in a traditional school, adult education, trade group, or even a community dedicated to a subject area. Using open source education tools gives everyone the ability to create and enhance centers of learning quickly and at a low cost.

Lifelong learning is also a focus from corporations to whole countries. Simply it is the only way to compete in the marketplace. Skills are no longer static and new technology is always evolving. Even a blue-collar worker needs computer and other skills. White-collar workers have their own ever-changing mix of technologies. Enabling learning through innovative open source technologies, in our case via Java, is the most cost effective way to deliver education to the masses throughout their working lives.

You are the Community

I want to make it perfectly clear, we are still a community and still under java.net. We have a few more monetary resources and new staff from Sun to help build and manage the community. But we are still a group of volunteers and passionate people. We are about to get a lot more projects and people. We are still a Java community. You may see some mention of other technology like Linux, but in relationship to Java. Part of the JELC effort is of course because of Sun so there are new Sun people running around like developers, sales people, and marketing. Most are new to open source communities so please help educate them on the do’s and don’ts.

Learning From Educators as Customers

We are going to also have forums for discussing education in terms of teaching, learning, and administration. As developers we need to know requirements of our customers. You might say that you were (or still are) a student and know all about education, what do we need to know about building academic software. Believe me, I thought that too until I started asking educators and administrators about their jobs. We need more than our collective experience; we need information from the trenches. And if you are an educator or administrator, feel free to tell us what you need to teach or manage your school.

A Community of World-Wide Volunteers

One of the interesting things going on is that the world is coming. We have a few projects in other languages, but we are going to have many more. One of the bigger issues we will have is just language. English is pervasive but there are a lot of people that only speak their mother tongue. If you know a language other than English and would like to help us, let us know.

Be a leader or Be a Volunteer

We need new projects, we need people to help with existing projects and we need everything from web content developers to volunteers to help our projects grow. But why volunteer or lead a project? The simplest reason is that you are interested. You might also need what a project is building and need to get your input to make sure it turns out right. But there are other benefits like meeting your fellow developers, exchanging ideas, and of course doing something important for your community and the world. Participation also adds to your experience and to your resume. Working on open source projects is now just as important as the jobs where you collect a paycheck.

JELC Founding Advisory Committee Members

Because we are about to become a much bigger community, we also need some big time advice. To help us, we have recruited some high caliber leaders to advise our community. Here are the advisors, their positions, and links to their biographies.

Mr. Ira Fuchs
Vice President for Research in Information Technology, Andrew Mellon Foundation
bio

Mr. John Gage
Chief Researcher, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
bio

Ms. Kim Jones, Vice President Global Education and Research, Sun
Microsystems, Inc.
bio

Mr. Mike Keller
University Librarian and Director of Academic
Information
Resources, Stanford University
bio

Dr. M. S. Vijay Kumar
Assistant Provost and Director of Academic Computing, IS&T MIT
bio

Mr. Scott McNealy
Chairman and CEO, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
bio

Mr. Alessandro Musumeci
Information Technology General Manager,

Ministry of Education, Italy
bio

Where is the new JELC?

Here are our new links. The first is our portal, which is just like the java.net portal with news, links, a wiki, and other collaboration tools. In the near future I will be looking for your help to write articles and add to forums and wiki content.

community.java.net/edu-jelc/

Next is our new development portal. We have created new categories and consolidated a few project areas. All of the existing projects are still here. We will work on this area over the next week to put projects in their proper place and to document the procedures for each project area.

edu-jelc.dev.java.net

What's next for JELC?

The future is bright for JELC. We are already starting to add new projects. The new portal is also up and running so that we can get news and exchange ideas in our community. Remember also that what comes next is also partly up to you. Education is the future and you are part of creating that future. Good luck everyone and let's get to work on the future of education!

If you have any additional questions or comments please post to our Discussion Forum.

When planning for a year, plant corn.
When planning for a decade, plant trees.
When planning for life, train and educate people."

- Chinese proverb: Guanzi (c. 645 BC)