AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.

How Funders Can Shape the Future of Technology in Jewish Classrooms

Posted by: RachelAbrahams

December 26, 2013

By: Rachel Mohl Abrahams
Recently I was pleased to present on a Jewish Funders Network webinar entitled, “The Education Evolution: Learn How Funders Can Shape the Future of Technology in Jewish Classrooms.” It addressed how the field of educational technology is ripe for collaboration between funders of all areas of Jewish education. I represented AVI CHAI, which funds in the day school arena, alongside Devin Schain and Sarah Steinberg, representing Shalom Learning, an initiative to enhance the traditional Hebrew School model through the use of technology.
Educational technology is an exciting area: it’s a new and developing field which is constantly changing. Moreover, because it is an emerging field, there are a myriad of funding opportunities.  In whichever niche of education a funder may be interested in, there is some connection to ed tech; for example: curriculum development, teacher training, supporting individual schools, educational entrepreneurs/product development for Jewish Studies, and university education.  In fact, ed tech is relevant to all students, in all settings.
Additionally, there are many opportunities for work cross-setting. For instance, content, products, and teacher training developed for the day school market could all be adapted – or even developed in parallel – for use in congregational settings, and vice versa. For the last two years, AVI CHAI worked with PELIE (unfortunately no longer in existence), a funding body in supplementary school education. Each funded a group of participants from our respective milieus to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, the premier forum for ed tech professional development which attracts more than 18,000 participants each year. While we were there, we ran activities for our groups together, as well as for each group separately. We also partnered with PELIE to run two regional ed tech conferences (Kadima), out of the belief that, if we were both training educators about ed tech and social media, there was no reason to train them separately. Other areas ripe for collaboration cross-platform include content development: for instance, high school students in Hebrew high school could take some of the same courses as certain Jewish day school students. AVI CHAI is now thinking about universities developing Jewish Studies courses for undergraduates that high school students in Jewish day schools could also take advantage of. Those courses could be available to Jewish high school students in other settings as well. There are so many opportunities for the cross-pollination of interests.
I’d like to share the slides from the webinar. They provide a brief overview of trends in educational technology, as well as of AVI CHAI’s work in this area. You can learn more about DigitalJLearning, a network for established Jewish day schools who are experimenting with implementing online/blended learning (a project of the Jewish Education Project) here; and more about BOLD (Blending Online Learning in Day Schools), which supports established day schools making deeper dives into becoming blended learning schools (co-funded with the Affordable Jewish Education Project and the Kohelet Foundation) here.

Rachel Mohl Abrahams is Senior Program Officer at The AVI CHAI Foundation.

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