A Review of the Digital Academic Website EDSITEment

EDSITEment is a content provider of detailed lesson plans. Provided by accredited and financially sponsored academics for public use and evaluation, the quality of content is generally high. Content providers are, for the most part, professional educators, and most of these lesson plans are intended for secondary and higher education level courses. Overall, the sheer quantity of lesson plans is quite impressive. In general, they offer quality content that is backed by legitimate source material. However, upon reviewing dozens of these lesson plans, I’ve determined there is no adequate metric for determining the quality of each lesson plan.

It would appear that the administrators of EDSITEment simply sponsor certain educators with adequate qualifications to provide content. Rather than evaluate the quality of each individual lesson plan, EDSITEment places trust in their chosen content providers to provide quality content. The result is a great disparity between the quality of any two lesson plans.

The danger of this lack of regulation is that those who may be less qualified or ill-informed on a particular historical subject may take the content of a lesson plan at face value. Educators who wish to use these lesson plans should critique the overall quality of the lesson plan and determine whether the material presented is relevant to their classes’ curricula. If these vital steps are not undertaken, the result is that some of the less fulfilling, less substantiated or blatantly inaccurate lesson plans (there are some of these present,) may be adopted in the classroom. This is largely due to the unrestricted guidelines of EDSITEment’s content, which is both of benefit and detriment to the platform. The benefit of deregulation of content is that there is simply more content available, but the detriment is that much of this content is not adequately vetted by qualified individuals. The best way to understand the discrepancy in quality between lesson plans is to walk through the process of creating one.

The first section of an EDSITEment lesson plan is the topic or ‘guiding question’ that provides focus for the content provided. Some EDSITEment content providers use this section well, with specific questions that truly delve into the material and may invoke relevant questions in the intended audience. Other lesson plans I’ve seen have very weak guiding questions that don’t inspire the audience to make inquiries and simply digest information without thinking critically about the content. Fortunately, the aforementioned lack of regulation makes the less valuable lesson plans identifiable, as the weaker lesson plans often have uninspired guiding questions.

In my opinion, the section that truly determines a successful EDSITEment lesson plan is the ‘learning outcomes’ section. Here, the ideas voiced in the guiding questions segment are more fully developed, and the process of achieving the goal of the lesson is described. EDSITEment content creators often support their initial claims about the material with evidence in this section, and some of the more developed lesson plans have many learning outcomes with a number of sources that substantiate their claims about the topic. This section is the heart of the lesson plan, and it is solely up to the content provider to create a well-rounded outcomes section in order to successfully pitch the use of the lesson plan to their intended audience.

Aside from these two sections, there are several other segments that content providers can dedicate to providing extra resources relevant to the lesson plan. The best lesson plans I’ve seen use these sections liberally, and some have dozens of primary source documents and media varieties attached to the lesson plan for those who are interested in the topic and wish to explore it further.

In summation, EDSITEment is a great, albeit simple, digital platform that enables users to share their lesson plans and gathered materials with a wider audience of academics and educators. The lack of regulation ensures that there is a steady stream of new content coming in, but also leaves the responsibility of vetting the material to the individuals that access the website. As a primarily text based platform, there aren’t any multimedia features of note to speak of, but this simple platform is a step in the right direction. EDSITEment is emblematic of an increasing democratization of knowledge and a greater level of collaboration between educators between institutions and across disciplines.

For more information about EDSITEment, please visit their website:
https://edsitement.neh.gov/

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