Hundreds of teachers, supervisors and educational technology directors converged on the MOFET Institute in Tel Aviv on November 11, 2014 to participate in the third Global School Twinning Network Conference. They were joined by tens of Jewish educators from around the world who participated in the conference virtually via online broadcast from the Israel Ministry of Education website.
The Global School Twinning Network is sponsored by the Jewish Agency's Partnership2Gether peoplehood platform, which connects hundreds of communities around the world in partnerships with communities and cities around Israel. The network is made up of 300 Jewish schools around the world twinned with Israeli partner schools. Forty thousand children and teens led by 1500 teachers participate in joint academic projects, communicate online and visit each other, enriching their Jewish experiences and identities.
The conference, organized by the Jewish Agency and the Department of Information Technology and Pedagogic Secretariat of the Israel Ministry of Education, showcased numerous educational projects of "twinned" elementary, middle and high schools. Among them, shared student blogs, online Jewish holiday celebrations, creating "live bridges", touring each other's neighborhoods, addressing environmental issues and much more. The network plays an important role in developing among children around the world a feeling of being part of a global Jewish family.
The participants were greeted by a handful of key officials of the Jewish Agency and Ministry of Education who emphasized the importance of twinning between Israeli schools & Jewish schools abroad in creating a dynamic, ongoing dialogue on issues of Jewish and Israeli identity, social involvement and connectedness. They pointed out how the adopting of advanced telecommunications tools & skills encourage meaningful authentic learning, breaking down the high classroom walls to reach out to peers across the world.
In order to introduce the twinning crowd to some new technologies which could enhance their work, Sarit Amar from ORT introduced some beautiful projects using Google Hangouts for online communication and learning. Yuval Shein from Microsoft introduced the Intel Education 2 in 1 laptop/tablet for education, which is a tablet when students want mobility for anytime, anywhere learning, and a laptop when students need to create multimedia reports and presentations. This rugged, versatile machine could be very helpful in running online twinning projects.
The conference concluded by hosting a fine crew of teachers and students from a number of countries abroad (USA, Argentina and Israel) on an online video connection to share their online twinning projects. Amihai Bannett of the School Twinning Network and Ronit Maor of the Ministry of Education moderated the global panel. The participants spoke about the rich and rewarding experiences afforded by the ongoing contact & learning with "twins" across the sea and how these projects actually build bridges between schools in Israel and Jewish communities around the world. They also shared some of the difficulties they had to overcome in running the programs and the pedagogical and technical support they received from the Network staff to help them prevail.
See a photo album of the conference on School Twinning Network's Facebook page.