Working Together to Further Jewish Education

Published: 
July 3, 2017

Source: Times of Israel

 

After working mostly in Jewish education for the last 15 years, I recently had the opportunity to attend the “International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference". This is the largest gathering of educators from around the world. The conference, which this year took place in San Antonio, Texas was an opportunity to meet, share, and collaborate with fellow educators from every educational circle imaginable. During my three days at the conference, I had a chance to discuss true educational challenges with educators from every corner of the globe and to embark on some true collaboration experiences.

The first thing that struck me as special was how almost everyone I met was so willing to discuss opportunities for collaboration. As an online/distance learning provider, I happen to think that my company’s services are unique, but online learning is a crowded field with a lot of providers. Yet, every school district superintendent and educational vendor with whom I spoke were eager to discuss how we may be able to work together.

How often do Jewish educators “reach across” the isles to see what is going on in the rest of the world? How often do schools in the US or Israel try to open dialogue or partnership opportunities with the rest of the global educational community? While Jewish education has taken amazing leaps in technology integration, there is still more than we can and should be doing. When I was the technology director of a large Jewish day school, I remember convincing my school’s administrators that technology was not just another fad, that it was indeed an important part of the educational process. I was privileged to work for principals who believed in the advancements that technology could help bring, and I was allowed to build some top tier programs. Some schools though, are still not crossing that line to take advantage of the global possibilities.

ISTE showed me firsthand how much can be accomplished if we work together. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the largest online providers in the world. They offer courses in an extensive list of foreign languages, but not in Hebrew. They have explored the possibility of creating their own Hebrew language program, but they came to the realization that there are already a lot of great resources available. So, rather than start from scratch, they are looking for partners that can help them to create this new offering. We instantly struck up a conversation and a follow-up meeting has already been scheduled. Who knows what (if anything) will come of this, but these types of partnerships can only help our students.

In Jewish education, there are no fewer than eight major Hebrew language curriculum options (that I can count). Schools are using these resources, but none of the options have really become the universal solution for teaching Hebrew. Some of these programs have even been funded by the same organizations! Did we really need 8 separate projects? What if all of the funding and resources for these projects was put together? Imagine what could happen if schools/ students had all of the combined resources available. Imagine what could be created if all of the Hebrew experts sat and pooled all of their experiences and knowledge together. The possibilities would be limitless!

Read the entire post at Times of Israel.

Updated: Jul. 05, 2017
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