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October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
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Tradition And Technology: E-learning In Jewish Day Schools

Students in Israel get computers to assist in their schoolwork.

Students in Israel get computers to assist in their schoolwork.
Photo Credit: Tal Shahar/HANDOUT/Flash 90

The course began with an overview of the destruction of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash and the political and nationalistic aspirations of some of the various Jewish groups of the era. Using online polls, research tools and shared documents, the students are able to review the historical background of the era, examine the decisions that the Jews were forced to make, and apply their knowledge to today’s land for peace controversy.

The course has gone on to cover a wide range of additional subjects that are as pertinent to the present day as they were to the Jews of previous centuries. The topics include acculturation and assimilation, law and morality, universalism and particularism, Intellectual openness, creating a modern Jewish army, Jewish medical ethics, and democracy.

 One of the most innovative aspects of the E-learning course involves the students’ ability to create their own projects and share them with their peers. Students work on their own projects while simultaneously reviewing the work of their peers. This adds to each participant’s overall understanding of the subjects under discussion.

Last November the yeshiva invited parents to a meeting at which they were introduced to the E-learning class in which their children were participating. Parents were able to observe how the students are enjoying a highly effective classroom environment that promotes their understanding of complex issues. Everyone came away highly impressed.

“The way you’re learning is unbelievable,” said one attendee. “Taking what you’re good at – modern technology, chat rooms, discussion forums – and turning it into online educational experiences is something I never could have done and yet you clearly are learning so much.”

Editor’s Note: For more information on the Jewish Educators Awards click here.

About the Author: Laurie Rappeport lives in Safed, Israel. She is an online Israel and Jewish studies educator for JETS Israel and works with the Jewish Educators Awards (http://www.jewisheducatorawards.org) to increase the visibility of online education in the Jewish educational landscape.

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