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Philanthropy and GELC

Posted by bkurshan on August 14, 2006 at 12:58 PM PDT

Seems that the Buffet donation to the Gates Foundation is changing the impact of education. Recently Scott McNealy spoke about Open Source Curricula and how it will impact education world wide. I believe it will change the way we develop curricula, distribute curricula, and determine if it works. This is the 3D model for GELC.

What do you think and how can make GELC grow and become sustainable? What do you think about what Scott has to say in the Forbes intereview belwo?

*Sun's McNealy Leads Non-Profit Open-Source Drive*
Greg Levine, 08.04.06, 4:42 PM ET

"Math hasn't changed since Isaac Newton," declares Scott McNealy. So why, he asks, is California paying some $400 million annually to "update" grade-school textbooks?

That's just one of the practices questioned by the Sun Microsystems chairman. And one of the problems he believes can be solved.

McNealy, who handed Sun's chief executive reins to Jonathan Schwartz earlier this year, is now applying his know-how to steer the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC). That's a non-profit entity, spun off from Sun in January, which aims to make open-source software available to the world's kids for free--just as Sun sought to distribute its Solaris operating system (OS) and other wares to businesses, for profit.

The straight-talking exec spoke with, touching on the educational woes generated by archaic information "delivery systems"--and how GELC projects can remedy them. He presented an example from a GELC study: a U.S. 3rd-grader attempting Internet searches for a school project on electricity. The lad got a sobering lesson on limitations, forced to rely on an "old-economy" Web site for metal welding.
Citing instances of California schools "afraid to tell you their test scores," the Sun co-founder declared that the 2001 No Child Left Behind act championed by the **George W. Bush** administration should really be recast as "no child held back" by physical and economic dataconstraints.

McNealy's vision is worldwide access to a free Web site for kindergarten-to-12th graders (K-12). Beyond a mere Google search, the open-source site would allow content creators to donate their own material. Think of online encyclopedia Wikipedia -- but with dependable standards.

He pointed to the accessibility of non-subscriber e-commerce sites like and eBay as examples of how attainable his goal might be.

The ever-colorful Stanford University MBA used the 1927 birth of "talkies" as a metaphor for the present: Instead of each movie palace across America relying on its own "hung-over piano player, showing up late," suddenly films could all play the same vocal and musical recordings, simultaneously, from coast to coast.

Likewise, says McNealy, the GELC plan would allow K-12 classrooms to instantly access the same approved online textbooks--instead of the expensive products hawked by "a great salesperson talking to the PTA."

And his free-market background has also shaped McNealy's vision: Far from a mere sidewalk charity, the GELC will also amass funding to enable professors to create textbooks specifically for the Web site.

And like cinema sound, the concept for this global system was dreamed of years before it coalesced. The ex-CEO told us that the concept began before Sun's 1982 inception, back when company co-founder Bill Joy -- the "Al Gore of open source," McNealy joked -- studied at Berkeley, and "before Linux [OS] was out of diapers."

While he did not mention the Sun-Microsoft friction over open-sourcing software, the parallel was too big to ignore: certain entities allegedly keep information just out of the public's reach.

The GELC has already been involved in pilot plans spanning "Africa, Asia and inner-city Detroit," as well as a numeracy initiative in Canada's Alberta province and a digital-storytelling project for the
United Nations.

To change the world, maybe it doesn't take a village -- maybe it takes a chairman.