MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a leading grantmaker in the field of open educational resources, announced its support of the decision by Sun Microsystems, Inc. to create a new nonprofit organization that will distribute educational materials to teachers and students around the world for free through the Internet.
The centerpiece of the organization, the Global Education and Learning Community, is an online portal where educators can access content for courses in a variety of subject areas and grade levels and discuss strategies for improving student achievement with colleagues worldwide. The portal breaks new ground in free and open source computing while helping to enhance education and student learning. While the Global Education and Learning Community was previously a division of Sun Microsystems, as a nonprofit it will have access to more resources, including participation from other major corporations and governmental entities. In addition, the organization will benefit from the independent direction provided by a seasoned advisory board and an executive director.
On the heels of the launch of the Global Education and Learning Community, the Hewlett Foundation announced that it has awarded more than $6 million to open educational resources projects, including $900,000 to the African Virtual University, which offers online degree programs and resources to students in Africa, and $3 million to Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare, one of the most successful online teaching and learning projects in the world.
“The Education Program at the Hewlett Foundation has made open educational resources a priority of its grantmaking,” said Marshall Smith, director of the Education Program at the Hewlett Foundation. “We applaud Sun Microsystems for joining the effort to increase access to high-quality educational content on the Internet.”
A key provider of the course content for the Global Education and Learning Community is the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, a Hewlett Foundation grantee, which supports a range of projects – from establishing development standards and specifications for online courses to educational research and content development. A cornerstone of the Monterey Institute’s work is the National Repository of Online Courses, a growing library of high-quality online courses for students and faculty at the high school and university level.
Since 2001, the Hewlett Foundation has made grants in excess of $40 million to support institutions and organizations that develop and provide online access to open educational content. In addition to the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, the Foundation has also made grants to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Creative Commons and open courseware projects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and Utah State University, among others.
The Global Education and Learning Community has already attracted a growing user community that includes developers, teachers and Ministries of Education, who are collaborating on more than 300 projects. Both the Monterey Institute and the Curriculum Corporation of Melbourne, Australia have been leading contributors of open educational content to the portal. The Global Education and Learning Community recently initiated a pilot project to utilize educational materials in South African math and science middle school classrooms.
Sun Microsystems CEO and Chairman Scott McNealy announced the creation of the new organization at EDUCAUSE 2005, a major annual conference focused on advancing education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, www.hewlett.org, has been making grants since 1966 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at www.hewlett.org/grants.