Twelve months ago, if you would have told me that digital learning was a cost-effective educational model, I wouldn't have believed it.
After having entered the world of online education I've come to see and appreciate the advantages that distance learning offers, including financial savings.
The debate over whether to include elearning in the Jewish classroom seems to have passed. It's not a subject of discussion anymore -- in all but the most Ultra-Orthodox schools, computer online learning has found its niche.
Digital learning opportunities allow students to explore information highways that they may not have been able to access otherwise. Students who are at different levels can work on the same material, each at his or her own level. Families can take vacations during the school year as the children keep current with the material via Internet access.
Interestingly enough, the technology also allows Jewish day schools to help control their costs while not only maintaining their status quo but actually improving the education.
Technology allows schools to enhance their programs while keeping their eye on the bottom financial line. The savings in teaching staff, support staff, administrative staff and hard copy books and other materials may be modest but they add up, preventing tuition in many elearning schools from rising.
In addition, many educators note that the schools' technology doesn't only prepare the students for the future, it meets them "where they're at," since even elementary school children today are extremely technologically adept and expect that their classroom experience will engage them in a challenging and interactive manner that meets their needs and expectations.
In his report Steering your Jewish Day School Toward FinancialSustainability in an Unstable Economy Sacha Litman of Measuring Success, in partnership with PEJE, gives another reason that Jewish day schools should increase the elearning component of the curriculum. "Have a clear understanding about how your school's value is perceived by current and prospective parents" Litman writes. Today's parents expect that their child's education will consist of all possible tools that will ensure the child's ultimate scholastic success. If a parent feels that the school is "behind the times" or isn't keeping up with the educational advances of the 21st century, that parent might very well not enroll the child or remove the child from the school, taking that tuition with him.
In today's world of Jewish day school education, making a school cost-effective involves thinking "outside of the box." Digital learning is one such alternative.