Introducing MOFET's Center for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity

Jan. 19, 2016

Elaine Hoter is a senior faculty member and coordinates the M.Ed Program in “English as an International language” at Talpiot College of Education and earned her PhD from the Hebrew University. She is an early pioneer in online learning having taught the first collaborative online course in 1995 connecting student teachers and school children and created and developed the first online conference for teacher educators in 2001. In addition, Hoter has created award winning courses connecting a variety of diverse populations through the internet, including: deaf and hearing, the Diaspora and Israel, and in the last decade Arabs and Jews. A Fulbright alumni, she is one of the three founders of the TEC Center (Technology, Education and Cultural diversity). Today she is head of pedagogy for the TEC4SCHOOLS project, developing new technologies and programs for the TEC Center including social networks moocs and virtual worlds. She has presented at numerous conferences and has been invited to lecture on every continent.

The aim of the MOFET Center for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity (The TEC Center) is to increase tolerance towards those different to ourselves and reduce stereotyping and prejudice. Very few pupils in the world get to learn with pupils who are different culturally as well as socio-economically to themselves. We know that this lack of connection leads to low tolerance towards others. The idea behind the TEC Center is to use technology to slowly get to know “the other” and to build trust gradually between the pupils.


Today hundreds of students yearly - training to be teachers in Israel from 15 teaching colleges - take one of the 4 courses offered by the TEC Center. The courses all involve collaborative online learning between diverse groups in different subject areas. In addition, today 3000 pupils from 100 schools study together yearly in the TEC program and we hope to expand the program to as many schools and pupils as possible.


What’s special about the TEC projects?

Firstly the preparation of the teachers. Teachers participate in a collaborative online course as they join the program to experience firsthand how their pupils will work together using a closed social network developed for the project. The teachers then meet for a three day get away where they are divided into teams of 3 teachers who will work together during the whole year. Each teacher comes from a different school; Arab, Jewish (religious or secular) Christian, Druze, Bedouin, special education or a class from outside of Israel. The teachers work with experienced coordinators who meet with the small groups of students on a weekly basis.


The second difference is that all the courses and activities in the center are in accordance with the TEC model. The model, based on small group collaborative learning, stipulates the gradual progression on many planes; to synergistic collaborative learning, from basic to advanced technology, from low to high level thinking skills and also the communication type changes from initial just text communication, later hearing one another, then seeing and speaking through video conferencing, and using virtual worlds - a virtual island where the participants can meet using avatars. Finally, towards the end of the year, the students meet face to face for a fun joint learning experience where they eventually get to meet the students they have been studying with all year.


How it all began

The center began its activities in January 2005 as a joint venture between three teaching colleges in Israel. Each college represented a different sector of Israeli society who would never normally meet (Arab. Jewish, religious and secular).The first venture was an intercollege conference using advanced internet technologies, webinars and video conferencing. The following year saw the first inter-college course in Israel entitled "Advanced Learning Environments". Students from different colleges worked online in groups of 6 with students from other colleges. The year course consisted of bi-weekly synchronous meetings as well as asynchronous activities. Since 2005, 15 teaching colleges have joined the program. We now have bachelor college courses in Environmental studies and English Literature as well as an M. Ed course in technology in education and plan to develop more inter-college collaborative courses in the future.


Since 2008, the TEC Center has been active in projects and programs in the school system. The Amirim-Tech Project – a project together with the center for Exceptional Pupils at the Israel Ministry of Education, is a year course for talented pupils and offers an opportunity for pupils in the 6th grade to learn with pupils from other sectors of the population.


In 2011, the TEC Center started a junior high school project together with the International Globes Project and the Ministry of Education where pupils study environmental issues together.


The year 2013 marked the beginning of a new program TEC4Schools funded by the Ministry of Education where teachers in the 5th grade (10-11 year olds) work together with 2 other teachers to form collaborative online learning between the classes. This project is making waves in Israel with more and more schools wanting to join.


The Center is involved with research in the areas of collaborative online group learning and the building of trust between people.The research shows that the year experience changes the participants prejudiced views of “the other” and our research has been published in professional journals. These research projects are carried out nationally and with partners abroad, (noticeably -The University of Ulster, N. Ireland, Michigan State University, U.S.A., IDC, Herzilya , Israel, the University in Singapore and the United Nations) (Walthers, Hoter, Ganayem and Shonfeld 2015).


Last week over 350 students from twelve colleges who are all taking part in one of the TEC college programs met up face to face for the first time at the MOFET Institute after a few months of online collaboration. For many Jewish and Arab students this was their first opportunity to meet others from different sectors of the society. After meeting together and being greeted by Dr. Michal Golan, the head of MOFET and Eyal Ram from the Ministry of Education as well as learning about the TEC Center, the students met up and got to know the other students they had been working with online. It was truly an exciting day for all.

Join us on April 12, 2016 for our International Day!

Updated: Jan. 06, 2016