Both day schools and afternoon schools have come to the conclusion that including distance learning in their curriculum can enhance lessons, result in increased learning, offer differential learning opportunities to different types of learners and free the classroom teacher to allow her to engage and assist individual students as needed.
Throughout the country public and private schools are including elearning paradigms in their learning strategies. In-school online learning generally involves blended learning in which the material is presented online in a variety of interactive forms and the classroom teacher supports the learning by providing individualized instruction and feedback. Entire school districts are purchasing tablets for their entire student bodies and training the teachers to work with the students as the students manage their own learning and progress at their own levels.
For small Jewish day schools and complementary congregational schools, elearning has an additional benefit. Through creative uses of distance learning options schools can combine classes, reduce supplemental staffing and cut their costs.
One example involves a recent JETS class that was conducted at the Kadima high school in St. Louis Missouri. Kadima is a new school and the classes are still small. The school includes both boys and girls but the classes are separate.
This fall JETS facilitated an online history class for Kadima's 10th grade students. The boys' class and the girls' class each studied in their own classrooms but were connected simultaneously to the teacher, Ms. Smadar Goldstein, who met with the students via a video-conferencing system that enabled her to see both classrooms as she taught.
Ms. Goldstein used the Haiku Learning Management System to present the material, give assignments, provide feedback and conduct evaluations. The school benefitted financially by being able to run two history classes for the price of one.
As elearning becomes more integrated into Jewish day schools and afternoon enrichment programs, JETS sees that these types of projects will become more and more prevalent.