Source: MOFET Conference 2012
This year, MOFET Institute's Annual Educational Technology Conference, held at MOFET Institute in Tel Aviv on March 28, 2012, was devoted to examining the implications of the ubiquitous availability of information and communication at our fingertips on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. Hundreds of conference participants heard presentations that examined the numerous opportunities of utilizing these tools to enhance and transform the education scene, and on the other hand, ways to avoid the educational and developmental pitfalls that they present.
The Conference was opened and chaired by Dr. Michal Golan, head of the MOFET Institute. Dr. Uzi Melamed, chairman of the MOFET Forum for Computing in Education & Instruction and Chairman of the Board greeted the conference.
Among the presentations:
Roni Dayan, Director of the Unit of Computer Applications in the Science and Technology Administration of the Ministry of Education, voiced his aim to bring about a systematic technological change that will affect all the teachers and pedagogic teams throughout the Israeli education system. Taking into consideration the differences, between different schools and geographical areas, the innovative technological program is being implemented in stages. The Ministry hopes to bring the innovation to all parts of the education system within three years.
Dr. Yuval Dror, of the Communications School of the College of Management Academic Studies, made the point that ICT if not utilized intelligently may cause more damage than good. If it is utilized as a huge database, providing all the answers for students, then it could encourage intellectual indolence and dishonesty and discourage original critical thinking. Good pedagogues must work to develop ways to integrate ICT tools to encourage students to examine information critically and utilize it to think originally and find answers for questions that have not yet been asked.
David Baugh, an Apple Professional Development Consultant, taught the audience some basic Welsh using his iPad. The dynamic interactive lesson, utilized audio recording and playback, still pictures and video recording and playback along with music to produce a rich and very pleasurable effective learning session.
Brigadier Meir Mestai, Commander of the ICT Division of Land Forces Command of the IDF, described the integration of ICT in the land force units of the IDF, one of the most advanced armies of the world in this field. In 2009, the IDF began implementing the new Digital Land Army project. Now all the land forces command and control operations are carried out digitally. Today's soldiers, the Twitter – Facebook – Multi-tasking Generation, have a limited attention span. The ICT unit has been working on instruction methods that grab their attention and stimulate them to learn. They have broken down the classic 45 minute lesson to integrated learning units of up to four minutes. The expert instructor will weave a selection of related learning units into a meaningful body of knowledge while constantly stimulating his students to learn. The 21st century soldier must have knowledge, technical skills and high order thinking abilities. Active participation in a professional military social network helps him attain them.
Professor Yossi Matias, managing director of Google's Israel R&D Center, described Google's aim to make knowledge and information universally accessible and useable, enabling people to create wisdom. Among the projects that Google has recently supported is the Khan Academy, which provides high quality instructional videos in many fields for schools and individual learners. An Israeli Google engineer helped Yad Vashem digitize their video and picture archives and make them available online. This project then grew to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls, collections of Art Museums and the Nelson Mandela Archives as part of the Google Cultural Institute.
Dr. Naava Levit Bin Nun of the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzlia, described new concepts of brain function that have developed over the last decade and some of the possible detrimental effects of all-encompassing digital culture on the normal development of brain network integration. It is very important for young people to have adequate interaction with physical, social and affective aspects of their surrounding world to achieve healthy integration of their brain function networks. We should find ways to ensure that excessive attachment to the digital environment doesn't lead to impaired brain network integration and unhealthy brain development.