Java Education & Learning (JELC) Advisory Board Meeting
This week I will be in Palo Alto meeting with Scott McNealy, John Gage, and education leaders from all over the world. We will be talking about java.net's Education and Learning Community (JELC). The tasks will be to organize the advisory board for the first time, talk about open source in education, and to work towards creating a stronger community.
One of my tasks is showing off what we have so far. We have 142 projects (including topic areas) and 975 members. That's quite a lot for a community that was relaunched just a few months ago. The projects range from student research to university infrastructure. Some are for research and other projects are real working software. Here are three of the projects that I will be showing off at the meeting:
Globalcode ( globalcode.dev.java.net) is a dual-purpose project that combines software for educational institutions with computer science. With the global team based in Brazil, the project's mission is to teach Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EETM) by example and to benchmark code to show how different strategies of architecture design compare. Their reference application is designed for a school's management of courses, classes, teachers, and students. With more than 80 members dedicated to its progress, Globalcode is already one of the largest projects in the JELC.
BioBox (BioBox.dev.java.net) is a collection of biology research projects, including the Bio-ClusterGrid. With 28 of the most popular bioinformatics applications built into the Bio-ClusterGrid and accessed via the project portal, biology researchers from Singapore and India to the U.S. are able to collaborate.
Twin Peaks (Twinpeaks.dev.java.net), a project housed with Indiana University Libraries Information Technology, is developing a user interface for accessing digital library resources from within Sakai v1.0, an open project used to build integrated systems for universities and schools of higher education. The Twin Peaks project is working with the JELC, along with the Sakai project, to expand their reach to other universities and to create a community where library science developers can interact.
Why Have an Advisory Board?
The Advisory board accomplishes a few things. First, because they are leaders in education and education technology, they understand what currently exists and what is needed both by institutions and in general by staff, teachers, and students. This helps our community by helping the community move in directions that should improve education.
The second reason for the board, and this meeting is to guide the process we use within JELC. This includes our governance and our management. It can also include what topics we choose to peruse and organizations we partner with.
Finally, because the members of the board are well placed in the community, they are also the ambassadors for JELC to help promote our community and increase the number of projects and members. They will be taking back to their organizations a wealth of information about why and how this community works and why others should get involved.
Life Long Learning
We will also be talking about life long learning. We should be students for all our lives. This has become more important in a global economy with its pace of technological and social change. It is also important for a strong mind and an interesting life. The problem with learning however is that there needs to be teachers, mentors, and resources for billions of people. Access to resources for life long learning is the hardest. Without the resource, teachers and mentors are limited to personal contact teaching, email, and the telephone. With millions of students there needs to be an infrastructure of management and learning tools.
Life long learning is the moral equivalent of adult or corporate education, but on a wider scale. With open source, it is hopped that tools can be created and easily adopted by open universities, professional institutions, and traditional universities. You should be able to take a class on programming as easily as psychology or nuclear medicine. Tools to support you should range from automated tutorials, grading systems, and even virtual mentors (one of my ideas). Lots of work ahead. Your efforts, ideas, and participation are apriciated in this effort.
Education & Research As Community
The primary reason for the JELC is the community. Open source is what is provided, but the common threads of education and areas of research are reasons to get together as a group and into sub communities. From developers, to administrators and students to teachers, there are many areas of common discussion and a need for maintaining a history and reference to discussions and ideas.
Communities sometimes just happen. But the truth is that communities have backbones of supporters, organizers, managers, and champions. A small part of these fine people are meeting this week. Speak up in the comment section below or email me. Give us your input so that your voice in the community is heard too.