Source: Avi Chai Foundation
The Avi Chai Foundation is pleased to release “Moving Forward: An Interim Report of Select AVI CHAI Blended Learning Initiatives in Jewish Day Schools,” by Dr. Leslie Siskin.
This report charts the progress of day schools involved in some of AVI CHAI’s funded initiatives in blended/online learning, providing a window into the current state of the field. Since the fall of 2010, The AVI CHAI Foundation has been at the forefront of the field of online/blended learning in Jewish day schools, providing schools with encouragement and assistance through a diverse set of grants. The goal of this work is “to improve the quality of day school education by increasing individualized data-based instruction and enabling students to develop skills and ways of thinking needed in the 21st century, as well as to bring down the cost of education.” Through these grants, many day schools are now actively introducing and implementing blended and online learning. This report presents a qualitative analysis featuring important emerging findings from this work.
Included within the AVI CHAI blended and online learning efforts are a diverse set of independent but interconnected projects. Some are direct grants to schools — small grants to established schools, incubator grants to new ones, and new BOLD day school grants for a few select, established day schools taking up the challenge of rapid implementation of blended and online learning school-wide within three years. Others are indirect — such as the launching of the DigitalJLearning Network; a baseline survey of Jewish day school utilization of blended and online learning methods and materials in 2012 and follow up in 2014; and the development of new online Jewish studies courses.
This report focuses on issues emerging within the schools and the network as most consequential for formative feedback. The first section begins with a brief description of AVI CHAI’s work in this area, and the second section then provides an overview of the methodology used in the research. The third section examines the context, a look at changes in the field that have implications for, or are useful to understanding, what is happening in the day schools. The fourth and the fifth sections then offer emerging patterns drawn from the data — both about progress made and about problems appearing on the horizon.
Summary of Findings
- Overall, Jewish day schools which are part of the DigitalJLearning Network and the new school projects show progress and potential. As a subgroup within the set of independent schools and the larger set of all schools (including public schools), Jewish day schools are implementing blended and online learning ahead of pace and maintaining the momentum of their forward progress.
- The Jewish day schools in the study have a common understanding of blended and online learning, but they differ in their method and pace of implementation.
- The blended and online learning work in the schools share eight common elements. As these eight are further understood and refined, they will provide a conceptual framework within which the progress of the initiative will continue to be analyzed.
- The DigitalJLearning Network schools engage in valuable opportunities for schools to learn and share.
- Major challenges to implementation include: quality of providers and products and technological capacities of schools.
- New incubated schools have not yet provided evidence of cost savings.
Read the entire report here.