Sun Spins Off Education Project as a Nonprofit

The Global Education Learning Community-Sun's effort to create an online, open-source educational resource library-is becoming a nonprofit organization.

Back in June, at Sun Microsystems Inc.s JavaOne conference, Sun CEO Scott McNealy spent the better half of his keynote address talking about Suns foray into solving the problems of educators everywhere—by taking the open-source paradigm into the world of teaching materials. "Instead of No Child Left Behind," said McNealy, "we [want] No Child Held Back."

Now, McNealy and Sun are taking that project even further. Sun will announce Wednesday that it is spinning off its effort to create an online, open-source educational resource library as a nonprofit organization. McNealy will announce the move as part of his keynote at Educause 05, an educational information technology conference being held in Orlando, Fla., this week.

The Global Education Learning Community, first unveiled by McNealy at JavaOne, grew out of Suns efforts to promote the Java programming language in computer science education. "It started as JELC," said Larry Nelson, acting executive director of GELC, in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet. "But [we learned] if we want to do this right, it needs to be a community for educators. So it changed to GELC."

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more on what McNealy said in his JavaOne keynote.

GELC has already begun to link up with similar projects undertaken by government agencies and universities around the world. "The community is global in nature, with representation in Asia and Europe as well as the U.S.," said Nelson.

Wednesday, McNealy will announce that Californias Secretary of Education, the European Unions European SchoolNet and Australias Curriculum Corporation have joined GELCs advisory committee. "European SchoolNet is doing much of what GELC is trying to do already, but on a regional basis," said Nelson. "The Curriculum Corporation is owned by the states in Australia and creates content provided to students in Australia over the Web."

The goal of GELC is to amass a collection of free online textbooks, assessment tools and teaching resources—including proven best practices for teachers. Nelson said GELCs focus will initially be on math and science education content for primary and secondary teachers. The community will use a model based on the Java Community Process to govern what content is added to the collection.

"Weve pulled together a subcommittee from our advisory committee to help create the Educational Community Process," Nelson said.

GELC has now been spun off as a separate entity from Sun, with its tax exempt status pending. Nelson had no comment on what funding Sun would continue to provide to GELC, but said, "Well continue to support it to the extent that is feasible. GELC will be a publicly supported charity."

GELCs advisory committee will meet to approve the Educational Community Process in November, in advance of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.