- Peer Review: “Edutopia Online”
- Feb 23, 2004 by Teacher Education
Edutopia Online is produced by the George Lucas Education Foundation (GLEF),
which is a nonprofit organization that documents and disseminates stories about
exemplary practices in PK-12 public education. As Lucas states -Our Foundation
documents and disseminates the most exciting classrooms where these innovations
are taking place. By shining the spotlight on these inspiring teachers and
students, we hope others will consider how their work can promote change in
their own schools.- Edutopia Online is designed to support educators who are
moving toward a teacher-centered approach where learning is in the hands of
students. Video segments and articles demonstrate this model of exemplary instructional practice.
- Type of Material:
Collection of video, case studies, and professional development modules for
- Recommended Uses:
This site is especially useful as a resource for teacher education faculty,
graduate students in teacher education programs, and anyone else interested in
learning more about successful innovations in PK-12 education today.
- Technical Requirements:
QuickTime 5.0.2 or higher or Windows Media Player 9 are required to view material in the Video Gallery. Downloads are available for those using dial up connections, broadband connections, and for users who can only receive audio. A computer that is set up for an optimal web viewing/listening experience is preferred.
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
The goal of Edutopia Online is to provide a vision of powerful teaching and
learning by documenting ways this vision is being realized in our best
schools today. The resources can be used to share ideas, lend support, and
discuss procedures and teaching practice according to ISTE/NCATE NETS Standards. Resources are also appropriate for use in courses leading to initial and advanced educational computing and technology certificates for a teaching credential.
- Target Student Population:
This website targets all stakeholders in education except children: teachers, higher education, administrators, parents, policymakers plus community and business people. GLEF provides its products to these groups as tools for discussion and action. There is excellent information here for preservice and inservice teachers, graduate students, and teacher educators interested in successful practices in PK-12 education.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
While an understanding of current issues and policies in PK-12 education would be helpful, it is not required.
The material available on this website is very comprehensive. All content is
organized into three categories representing three areas that the George Lucas
Education Foundation (GLEF) believes are the critical elements in public
education: Innovative Classrooms, Skillful Educators, and Involved Communities.
Topics discussed under Innovative Classrooms include assessment, project-based
learning, school-to-career, technology integration, and emotional intelligence.
Topics for Skillful Educators include ongoing professional development, teacher
preparation, technology professional development, and mentoring. Involved
Communities includes information about the digital divide, business
partnerships, community partnerships, and parental involvement. The major content themes developed for Edutopia (assessment, project-based
learning, school-to-career, and technology integration) are important at all
grade levels and across the curriculum.
One feature, the video gallery, is an archive of nearly 70 short documentaries and interviews about successful innovation in the classroom in the words of education theorists, teachers, and students. The videos of national experts and roundtable discussions provide amazing opportunities to hear words of the theorists who help determine future directions to improve education. The
quick summaries in both video and print format help us understand what the
experts deem to be their point of most significance for teaching practice. Expert interviews include Barbara Means, Grant Wiggins, Bruce Alberts, Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszmentmihalyi, Chris Dede, and Linda Darling-Hammond, among others. Program directors and actual examples of the theories in practice are also represented.
Detailed articles, research summaries, and links to hundreds of relevant Web sites, books, organizations, and publications are also available to help schools and communities build on successes in education. This websitearchives and offers all of multimedia content published by the GLEF, including films, books, and newsletters, and CD-ROMS. For each of the 13 focal topics there is a summary article, a research summary, and several articles and video
or audio clips that provide examples of how a particular topic plays out in
schools and communities. Links to related materials outside of the GLEF website
are also provided. An additional feature, called ?Getting started on our site?,
provides links designed specifically for teachers, parents, administrators,
policymakers, higher ed, and community people.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The information on this extensive website is useful for instructors as well as students interested in successful innovations in education today. Instructors can use the video or audio clips to punctuate their own remarks about 13 topics ranging from Assessment or Emotional Intelligence to Family Involvement or Project-Based Learning.
Professional development modules that address specific ISTE NETS Standards are provided. The Modules are organized using a Guided Process, to answer the
questions -Why..? What...? and How ...? - with links to resources and examples
of the standards in practice. The participants are then asked to brainstorm
ideas. PowerPoint presentations are provided for use to introduce the module, or
as a stand-alone presentation. Faculty can make changes and insert their own
content. Modules also include WebQuests, suggested readings for practice, and
Students, including prospective and experienced teachers
and graduate students, can go to this site if they are investigating any of the
13 main topics: assessment, project-based learning, school-to-career, technology
integration, emotional intelligence, professional development, teacher
preparation, technology professional development, mentoring, the digital divide,
business partnerships, community partnerships, and parental involvement. The hope is expressed that ?students, parents, and teachers?find
inspiration in what students are able to accomplish when they are given more
control over their learning?. - The most important strength of Edutopia is how
it empowers teachers to make needed changes. Indeed, most of the teacher
education models show teachers taking initiative for their own professional development.
The copyright policy for information on this website is very generous because the goal of the GLEF is to disseminate information about educational innovations. Articles can be used and multimedia documentaries can be shown in educational settings as long as appropriate copyright information is shared. This makes the materials on this website very accessible and therefore useful to educators.
Many schools lack the equipment to enact the models presented.
So far, only a few teacher education professional development modules are provided.
It should be noted that academic college faculty do not figure prominently among the community partners or teachers represented on GLEF. In fact, one of the few mentions of the role of colleges and universities appears with a conclusion by Bruce Albert ?It remains up to the faculty in higher education to find their role in these conversations. It may be that Edutopia contributes to a movement to turn the tables, with college faculty increasingly learning from PK-12 experts.
anyone is to blame for the state of K12 math and science education, it is us ?
the faculty of colleges and universities. If we use multiple-choice exams?..if
we only lecture at students with facts about biology and try to cover all
biology in one year without teaching anything in depth, our schools will emulate
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is extremely well organized and technically sound. The material can be accessed in several different ways and navigation is easy and redundant. For example, the material available on Emotional Intelligence can be found by
clicking on this topic, by browsing the Video Gallery, or by doing a keyword
search. All the Quicktime videos are small but play well.
The size of text in the style sheets on this website is very small and one reviewer was
unable to enlarge it without changing the screen resolution on the computer.
However, when articles are selected, their font size can be adjusted.
the Video Gallery is organized in frames works well for sighted readers, but may
be a problem for those using screen readers. No alt tags are provided for
graphics, so this site is not completely compliant based on ADA and Section 504
recommendations. Links to materials outside of this website are included in many
articles, but rather than open in a new window, these links take you away from
the Edutopia Online website.