Interview: Rom Feria, Project Leader of JEDI Program

Rommel P. Feria is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science from the University of the Philippines (UP). He is the only Java Champion in the Philippines and also one of three Apple Distinguished Educators in the country. He is the project leader of the Java Education & Development Initiative (JEDI) project.

What is JEDI?

The Java Education & Development Initiative (JEDI) Project is a partnership of the UP Java Research & Development Center (UP JRDC) and Sun Microsystems, Inc. with the aim of providing free and open source Computer Science/IT courseware for colleges and universities.

How did it start?

The project started to address a common concern of CS/IT faculty members from Philippine colleges and universities. Most CS/IT university faculty members are members of the Philippine Society of IT Educators (PSITE). This group voiced concerns about not having educational materials that are integrated into the CS/IT curriculum. Though there are various training programmes sponsored by companies, either the college/university is required to pay for the software and training materials or the college/university is not provided with the courseware and are left on their own to figure out how to integrate the technologies in their curriculum. This led to a lack of materials to use in teaching.

That's how JEDI started. We started with the most basic CS/IT courses, as recommended by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The courseware includes everything a teacher will need, e.g., teacher's manual, student's manual and lab exercises, among others. The courseware is provided in Open Document Format to make it easier for teachers to modify it as they see fit.

What's the list of courses you make available via the program?

  • Introduction to Programming using Java 1 & 2
  • Data Structures
  • Operating Systems
  • Web Application Development
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Software Engineering
  • Introduction to Databases
  • Java Security (soon to be released)
  • Web Services (soon to be released)
  • Object Oriented Analysis and Design (soon to be released)
  • Sun SPOT (soon to be released)
  • Web Scripting (soon to be released)
  • Introduction to Programming Using Java 1 & 2, Object-First approach (soon to be released)

Note: One of the above courses, "Introduction to Programming 1" is now available at edu.netbeans.org!

How are the JEDI courses written? What's the process?

Topics are proposed to Sun Microsystems, primarily to its team of technical evangelists. Once approved, UP faculty members write them. After the first draft, it goes back to the Sun technology evangelists for QA before release.

Can you share some success stories of the program?

The fact that none other than Dr. James Gosling recognized the project, along with Scott McNealy, is, in itself, a success story. JEDI's expansion to other countries, via our partnerships with Java Champions in Brazil and Indonesia, to name two, makes the project a success for us too.

What are the plans for the future?

Our plans are two-fold. First, we hope JEDI gets translated to other languages and to reach as many students as possible. Being an open source project, we are hoping that we get more people to help improve the courseware.

Second, we hope that our students, in the Philippines, graduate with the skills needed to be globally competitive.

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