The Next Chapter by George Lucas
George Lucas on revving up for the future of Edutopia by supporting a Web-only platform with a strong community component.
Back in the 1980s, I could see through my own work in filmmaking that the advent of digital technology was going to completely revolutionize the educational system. Whether the system welcomed it or not, technology -- and the classroom practices it enables -- were destined to spread new thinking and new solutions throughout our schools. While it has taken decades, the change, with all its untold implications for the future, was just a matter of time.
Our focus, as a Foundation, has been to show the most exciting classrooms with the most far-reaching innovations -- such as project learning, student teams working cooperatively, children connecting with passionate experts, parental involvement, and broader forms of assessment. By shining the spotlight on inspiring teachers and successful students, we hope others, including administrators, parents, and colleges of education, will redouble their efforts to implement the reforms that are so sorely needed.
We started to use the Web back in 1994 to share our stories on Edutopia.org. But, of course, video delivery was a challenge. So we produced companion VHS cassettes, then CDs, and then moved on to DVDs.
Since its launch in September of 2004, Edutopia magazine has been a valuable part of our media strategy. Every issue has been full of provocative articles and eye-catching design that reveal the new world of learning. The magazine covered our core concepts, such as teacher development and technology integration, and related topics like modern school designs and the many aspects of community involvement. We also produced "beyond the classroom" articles and departments about travel, history, science, and health. Because educators are a well-educated readership, we wanted to serve your own appetites for learning.
The magazine garnered numerous awards. And we heard from you, our readers in the U.S. and abroad, about how it provided hope and inspiration in a world of education that often focuses on faults and failures at the expense of progress and success. In surveys over the years, Edutopia magazine has always been rated highly by its audience and demonstrated the positive impact of connecting readers to our Web site and other related links for deeper reporting and analysis.
Publishing trends and media habits have shifted dramatically during the past five years. It is now clear that the future of publishing is on the Internet, where articles can be combined with films, interviews, interactive polls, live webinars, and more extensive archives of content than is possible within the pages of a magazine. Our Web site enables us to share stories of educational innovators any time you need them, as often as you need them. We work to update our schools coverage in keeping with 21st-century expectations, using the nimble format of the Web to be as specific and detailed as possible about practices that work. Importantly, the Internet enables not only the "one to many" distribution of our media but also the "many to many" interactivity of online communities whose members share their own ideas and resources.
Our Edutopia.org community launched late last year and is showing impressive growth as innovative educators meet and exchange ideas and experiences related to Edutopia content and your own topics of interest. Though our magazine has been sent to 100,000 readers six times a year, the Edutopia.org Web site now reaches about 300,000 users each month, allowing us to serve a much greater audience, more frequently, with more types of media.
For these reasons, the April/May issue of Edutopia magazine will be our final issue. I am excited about the possibilities ahead as we continue to publish "what works in public education" online. In the coming year, we plan on making a number of improvements to our Web experience, including expanded coverage of our recently launched Schools that Work series, improved navigation, and new ways for all of you to continue to create and contribute strategies for success. We are also shifting our membership program to a free, open Internet model. With the efficiencies of online delivery, we can better provide access for all who are seeking solutions.
I salute our talented editorial and design team; our many writers, photographers, and illustrators; our roster of companies who supported the magazine; and most of all, you, our readers. I hope you will continue to log on to our Web site at Edutopia.org and subscribe to our weekly online newsletter for the types of articles you've enjoyed in this magazine as well as deeper multimedia content, such as our documentary videos.
Thank you for your loyalty as an Edutopia magazine reader and supporter. We look forward to seeing you online.
By George Lucas
Chairman, The George Lucas Educational Foundation