Sun: Make education Open-Source


EDUCATION ministries all over the world should look at open-sourcing their textbooks, teaching aids, instructional materials and assessment tools, said Sun Microsystems chairman and chief executive officer Scott McNealy.

A community driven process could get the best teachers, academics, researchers, authors, corporate trainers, administrators, public officials and students from around the world involved in creating the finest textbooks that are up to date, he said.

The Santa Clara, California-based company wants everyone to get involved in creating online educational materials so that it can be made available for free to schools from any part of the world to use in any way they see fit.

Sun already has an online community called the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC) working to produce curriculum materials such as online textbooks for kindergarten through secondary school.

To date, China’s education ministry and Korea’s Education and Research Information Service have joined the GELC.

Improving Global Education

GELC’s mission is to improve global education by empowering teachers, students and parents with self-paced, web-based, free and open content combined with best practices for advancing student achievement worldwide.

The GELC works on a community-based model where members can submit proposals for new projects, work on it collectively and vote on its directions.

This education community was only founded last year but is growing exponentially with 1,991 developers actively contributing to 291 Java and open-source projects, McNealy said.

McNealy praised Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for making its courseware available online for free at MIT’s OpenCourseWare website (

This initiative will allow anyone interested in improving his or her knowledge to get the best education in the world for free, he said.

Meanwhile, Sun also announced a Sun Developer Network (SDN) Student Developer Program to provide students, researchers and game developers with US$180mil (RM684mil) in free training, tools, resources and grants.

“This new programme gives student developers the tools, training and resources they need to maximise their marketability as they enter today’s hottest fields in software development, including gaming, life sciences and open-source software,” said Kim Jones, Sun vice-president for global education and research.

The SDN Student Developer Program entitles students to free copies of the Sun Java Studio Enterprise, NetBeans Mobility Pack, Sun Studio 10, the Solaris 10 Operating System and other Sun software.

“The vision for a PC on every desktop did not close the digital divide, it only helped us realise a gap existed in the first place,” McNealy said.

The world is moving towards ubiquitous computing and Java technology can be the enabling “glue” between rich educational content and the on-demand communications infrastructure, he claimed.

“We believe that Java-based services, delivered online to any device, will help us efficiently and effectively bring teachers and students even closer to the resources they need,” he said.

The programme’s list of offerings can be found at

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