Source: IAITE Chanukah Conference
On the sixth day of Chanukah, the Israeli Association of Information Technologies in Education held a conference on 21st Century Skills – Miracles or Wonders. As the new National Plan for Making the Israel Education System Suitable for the 21st Century begins to roll out, a few hundred educators, administrators and educational technology experts gathered at the MOFET Institute in Tel Aviv to discuss ways of using technology to help students attain the skills they will need to live productively in the 21st century.
The conference presenters discussed theoretical, practical and visionary aspects of the topic.
Professor Chanan Yaniv of Calgary University in Canada and The Kibbutzim College discussed the new opportunities that advanced technology such as virtual worlds (Second Life) now allow us to create. These environments will allow students to learn in true constructivist paradigms. They will be able to use real – life like environments to investigate problems which they cannot investigate in real life. The meeting between great advances in technology and thinking about constructivist, exploratory, collaborative pedagogy allows for new opportunities for true educational change.
Dr. Rafi Davidson of the Kaye College presented a case study of students' perceptions of the role of the instructor in a 4th year online distance learning seminar course on a MOODLE LMS platform. The study aimed to characterize the work of the instructor in the online course, using alternative pedagogy as opposed to the traditional pedagogy prevalent in frontally taught courses. The instructor structured the course to include individual and collaborative learning based on Siemens' Connectivism. The students in the course utilized web 2.0 tools presented via the MOODLE platform. The characterization of the teachers' roles was carried out after analysis of the data collected by personal interviews of the students and content analysis of student dialogs and reflections of the students carried out on various instruments such as a collaborative wikis, online assignment collection, personal and group blogs, social networks, etc.
Among the teacher's roles perceived by the students:
- Designing a relevant, open learning environment
- Designing a rich environment which allows different learners to control their own learning, while feeling comfortable with the learning
- Encouraging the students to learn from each other and from others outside the course
- Designing scaffolded, supportive learning opportunities
- Teachimg the students to be autonomous learners
- Asking leading questions in response to students' questions, allowing the students to arrive at their own answers
- Serving as a model as learner and participant in the learning environment
- Encouraging the learner to dare to enter the unknown and to undertake learning adventures
- Being present when encouragement, and emotional support are needed
Two parallel sessions then followed, one dealing with elementary classes, the other with middle and high school classes.
Each session had presentations describing the implementation of programs which utilized educational technology to develop students' 21st century skills.
The closing plenary session heard Yoav Armoni of Ben Gurion University discuss Digital Youth and Learning in the Future and Sharon Greenberg of ORT Israel discuss preparing school principals for implementing the new educational technology program.
The conference program, abstracts and eventually the presentation slides (in Hebrew) are available on the conference website.