Is it Time for a Jewish Education Technology Conference?

Nov. 30, 2011

Source: AVI CHAI Ed Tech Blog


After returning home from the Virtual School Symposium Conference in Indianapolis, Rabbi Meir Fachler, director of Gemara Berura, pushes for the establishment of a conference dedicated to servicing and furthering the cause Jewish Educational Technology in Jewish schools.


Among the issues that should be discussed at this conference are: The MAC vs. PC debate, especially as it relates to Hebrew and Hebrew software support. Should there be computers in every classroom? Should student be allowed/encouraged to bring laptops/tablets to school? Are interactive whiteboards a necessity for every classroom? What are considered minimal levels of computer competence that teachers (and principals) should be expected to demonstrate in their work in the classroom and administration? etc. The issue of how Jewish schools could benefit from online/blended learning environment models is also a serious topic that needs to be addressed.


He writes:
"Technology is not simply a tool. It represents a cultural transformation with its own language, a language that today’s students speak. The level of success regarding the adoption of technology in our schools has overarching implications on the image our schools portray to the community it wishes to serve. Our ability to successfully adapt to these new cultural norms and language will impact on our ability to: recruit and retain our students, teach them effectively, and harness the new opportunities that technology affords to make Jewish schools more sustainable. We need get this one right. I believe that today we aren’t.


An annual national Jewish day school conference needs to cater to all issues on the Jewish Education agenda. Attempting to peg on a kind of sub-conference to the main one will not do sufficient justice to the cause. A dedicated Jewish Educational Technology conference will be held once in a few years, with on-going, online initiatives in-between.


We urgently need to begin a collaborative process with a view to develop shared dynamic protocols for many of the types of issues mentioned above. We need to get technology heads together, we to bring school principals together to understand the options, to have educated discussions with the technology department. We need Jewish Studies teachers to adapt to the emerging technologies and learn how to integrate them into their teaching practice. Most importantly we need schools to develop a coherent strategic approach to technology as opposed to the somewhat cumbersome and haphazard approach so many schools still unwittingly adopt."


The entire post can be read on the AVI CHAI Educational Technology Blog.

Updated: Jan. 01, 2012