Networking with Jewish Educators at #ISTE2016

July 3, 2016

Source: The Tech Rav Blog


The first word most people give when describing the International Society for Technology in Education or ISTE conference which took place this past week in Denver, Colorado is overwhelming. With its 15,000+ participants, presenters, and vendors running dozens of events simultaneously throughout the four days of the conference, it can be a daunting experience especially for first time attendees. However, if at the conference, there was a way to create a mini-conference, a small group within this vast stream of people that would be very advantageous.

Thanks to the kosher meals Avi Chai Foundation generously sponsored for observant Jewish participants, we were provided with a space to converse with like-minded educators throughout the convention. This room where the meals were served became our base of operations not only for eating but to forge relationships with individuals in Jewish day schools throughout North America. Many lingered in this space or even came when it was not meal time to unwind and reflect with others. Avi Chai was responsible for creating a cohort of all observant Jewish educators at the conference.

Besides meals, the other opportunity to come together was through The Jewish Educators Network, the ISTE supported PLN for educators in Jewish Day Schools. The Jewish Educators Network has been a part of ISTE for well over a decade. This year ISTE provided us a room and scheduled our meeting as a part of the ISTE Program.

Since Avi Chai was already sponsoring meals for all Jewish educators, the usual discussion based program for our meeting seemed less necessary. We would already have many opportunities for discussions during meals so we decided instead to give all participants an opportunity to present at the Jewish Educators Network meeting Ignite-type sessions, which would be no longer than 5 minutes using either 20 slides or some other technology supported platform.

At the program, we were privileged to hear six illuminating presentations by both Jewish edtech veterans and some new voices given their first opportunity to present on the ISTE platform.

  • Faigy Ravitz presented on iTaLAM, a digital platform for learning Hebrew, showed off Ji Tap the newest game creation engine from Jewish Interactive, and gave a sneak peak at a new curriculum for teaching the history of Jerusalem featuring augmented reality, virtual reality and gamification.
  • Shua Lindenbaum presented ways to utilize technology to transform Tefillah. Some of his ideas included creating a fully immersive Tefillah app, not just the siddur on a smartphone but a game-based learning opportunity for students to contemplate the different stages of Tefillah.
  • Smadar Goldstein illustrated how to use a Lino Board for students to post notes about a chapter of Tanach they were studying and Google Docs for students to argue about different approaches to the text.
  • Nance Adler presented on how she used flipped lessons to help students achieve fluency in chanting the prayer service.
  • Lisa Micley presented on the Online Judaic Studies Consortium of the Jewish Virtual High School which she is spearheading.
  • Finally, Michael Cohen, presented on using design theory in professional development as a continuous process to foster communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

The six presenters were followed by closing remarks by Gary Hartstein of the Jewish Education Project who described professional development offerings that the Jewish Education Project's Digital JLearning Network will be offering in the fall.

Read the entire post at The Tech Rav Blog.

Updated: Jul. 19, 2016