The George Lucas Educational Foundation, started by the famed filmmaker, seeks to “help educators and the larger public glimpse the future, through a world wide web site, films, books, and CDs.” In its vision of the future of education–which it has dubbed “Edutopia”–computers and other technology will transform education into an environment that provides meaningful challenges for all types of learners and serves each student’s creative impulses.

The foundation has made films and developed interactive laser discs to encourage the use of technology in the classroom. Most of its projects, many of which are now internet-accessible, describe a successful use of technology in a classroom or as a complement to classroom learning. These programs provide educators with ideas and inspiration about how to use technology to transform their worlds.

For example, a 1996 film looked at a class of 4th and 5th graders in Southern California. The students went into the desert to collect insect specimens, then researched those insects on the web and wrote multimedia reports. This type of program, fairly unique at the time, has been replicated on a larger scale for use by all educators through a project funded by the University of Illinois.

The Lucas Foundation’s experience shows that the inertia of most school systems must be overcome before these transformations can take place. Teachers must accept that they will be learning with and from their students, not just presenting information to them. And teachers must adapt to different learning styles and needs, combining high-tech and high-touch methods.

The George Lucas Educational Foundation offers resources and ideas for innovative classrooms at http://www.glef.org/classrooms.html. Also,you can read recent issues of the the foundation’s newsletter, Edutopia, at http://www.glef.org/edutopiaarc.html. (Individual issues require Adobe’s Acrobat Reader software.)