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Peer Review

Beyond Intractability



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Apr 22, 2010 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: The materials at Beyond Intractability provide an extensive assortment of learning resources. The website provides links to allow students to access a diverse array of learning materials, including: essays and articles, expert interviews, case studies, book and article summaries, citations and other internet resources. News and editorials may also be accessed. Online learning tools and courses are also provided. Initially created by a team of more than 200 distinguished scholars and practitioners from around the world, the Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base is built around an online "encyclopedia" with easy-to-understand essays on almost 400 topics. These essays explain the many dynamics which determine the course of conflict along with available options for promoting more constructive approaches to resolving, transforming, preventing, or changing situations of conflict.
Type of Material: This module is a website with many different data formats for reading, watching, and listening.
Recommended Uses: This module has several uses. The simulation resources are ideal for use in classroom settings, where students can act out the conflicts. The essays and audio information is much more appropriate for homework or paper writing. It is useful for individual study as well as group study. It can be used as in-class assignments and teaching exercises.
Technical Requirements: This module can be viewed primarily with a standard web browser and listened to with Windows Media Player or any other M3U format audio player.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The learning goals are not explicitly spelled out, but it can be inferred that the goals center on users understanding how to better recognize, approach, and deal with conflicts.
Target Student Population: This site is fairly advanced in its messages and learning style and would be most appropriate for MBA students in Human Resources or Organizational Behavior coursework, or for political science students. Undergraduate students in similar courses could also benefit from the messages, but would be less likely to be involved in the breadth of conflicts that are provided.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some knowledge of organizations, sources of power, and psychology would undoubtedly provide a richer experience, but little specific knowledge is necessary beyond understanding that people disagree. Basic computer and internet research skills and some database search and information retrieval skills are also required.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: • Material is very clear and straightforward. • Provides a comprehensive assortment of materials on different subjects . • Module includes a sufficient amount of material, and cleverly summarizes and integrates important concepts.
Concerns: Much of the content is grounded in opinion and not theory. It is somewhat difficult to weed through such a mass of information and be certain that the information one is viewing is accurate or of high quality. Some links are non-functioning and some research materials are in need of updating.Some of the links arguably appear only for financial purposes and have questionable educational value and validity. Opinions, however, can be valuable in their ability to provoke thought and debate and thus this is a relatively minor concern.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: • Examines multiple sides of different subjects. • Assignments can be easily made using links to resources provided by this module. • Through all the links and resource references provided, students can learn a great deal of information on many different topics.
Concerns: • The module does not clearly identify the prerequisite knowledge required to gain the maximum benefit from its use. • The module does not clearly identify the learning objectives • This is a great deal of material, making the module difficult to navigate at times. As a result, more time will have to be spent simply navigating the website.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: • Once the organization and layout of the website is understand, it is fairly easy to locate research materials. • The search capabilities of the website provide easy access to research materials.
Concerns: • There is a great deal of information on the website, making it difficult to navigate. • It is visually overwhelming • Some of the links, clip-art, news, etc. need to be removed • Non-functioning links and other materials need to be removed.

Other Issues and Comments: Overall, this website can be a very effective research tool.