Sunday, September 22, 2013

Keeping on Top of Things

During the recent JEDLAB-JETS online gathering, participants discussed the need for a centralized web presence where Jewish educators will be able to reference the available tools that make online education interactive and engaging.

JEDLAB was created in April 2013 to serve as a network for Jewish educators. JEDLAB members "meet" virtually on the JEDLAB Facebook page to discuss, debate, trade information and exchange ideas to make Jewish education a more challenging and engaging environment for teachers and students.

Throughout the years various Internet websites, forums and web presences representing brick-and-mortar centers have been established. These online spaces were designed to provide teachers with relevant teaching materials to improve their online classroom. A quick perusal of these sources, however, indicates that the sites were built years ago. The information was collected by a center staff member who posted the links and then forgot about the webpage. These resources haven't been updated in years has results in broken links and outdated information.

More distressing, even, these sites don't include the options for Learning Management Systems, virtual blackboards, Wikis and other web tools that form the core of today's elearning classroom. The world of online education is changing almost weekly and the existing lists of resources -- even those that were posted three, four or five years ago, haven't kept up.

When JEDLAB and JETS met on September 16th 2013 to discuss the continuing evolution of Jewish elearning, participants foremost expressed their desire for a centralized inventory of Internet tools which would provide teachers with the guidance that they need to access relevant, state-of-the-art etools. In keeping with the interactive nature of Web 2.0, the registry was envisioned as a collaborative effort. Group members will work together to create such a catalog and will then meet in webinars and PD encounter sessions. During these sessions participants will learn to use new tools and crowdsource on ways in which the tools can be used effectively in the Jewish classroom.     

Tikva Wiener of the Frisch Real School volunteered to begin to collect the information and create a realtime web presence on the RealSchool website. In conjunction with this list Jerusalem EdTech Solutions will be running a series of webinars as well as a year-long course of collaborative interactive design which will help Jewish educators facilitate the use of these tools in their classrooms. Presenters and moderators for these sessions include some of the most important and vibrant voices in the field of 21st century Jewish elearning including Tikvah Wiener of RealSchool and Smadar Goldstein of JETS.

Both the year-long PD course and the webinars are scheduled to begin in November 2013. Signup is via each course's webpage.  

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