Edutopia: An Online Community for Teachers and Students
A couple of decades ago in the great state of California, famed filmmaker George Lucas launched the website Edutopia. Part of his George Lucas Educational Foundation, its goal was to improve the quality of K-12 education throughout the United States via innovative use of digital media. Years later, Lucas' project is still going strong. So what's it all about?
What It Does
The purpose of Edutopia.org is primarily to disseminate information about cutting-edge educational techniques for kindergartners on up to high school seniors. The site is a free, vast storehouse of knowledge where educators can read about avant-garde schools, teachers who take unique tactics in the classroom and more. Uniquely, Edutopia emphasizes digital media to a significant degree. For instance, they host a number of education-related blogs and videos on their website, presenting themselves as an especially relevant source for education information in a computerized age.
Who It's For
Edutopia.org is mostly meant as a resource for teachers, administrators, librarians, parents and other parties who have an interest in educating youth. It's designed to function primarily as a support network for education professionals. In fact, it even includes almost 40 discussion groups on topics ranging from science and mathematics education to a forum for first-year teachers. Here, various educators can exchange their ideas on methods that work (and methods that don't).
Edutopia's central doctrine revolves around what it calls the six 'core strategies' of education. These are the principles by which they believe the effectiveness of modern schooling should be judged. They include:
- Integrated studies: teaching subjects with an interdisciplinary focus increases retention rates.
- Project learning: students should engage themselves with long-term real-world activities.
- Social and emotional learning: discovering how to communicate and collaborate with a team is essential in today's workplace.
- Technology integration: this can allow for more personalized learning.
- Teacher development: teachers must be nurtured so that students can be nurtured.
- Comprehensive assessment: multiple learning styles and methods of measuring student progress should be supported.
Is It Useful?
In short: yes. Though one might find it funny that George Lucas developed a website which looks to the future (it has much more of a Gene Roddenberry feel, no?), no one can deny that this site's heart is in the right place. In creating a network for those who embrace education reform via digital media and individualized learning techniques, Edutopia.org does the teaching community a valuable service. Granted, much of its content may prove a little esoteric for many schools throughout the country, but what would reform be without a few pioneers to blaze a trail?