By: Rachel Mohl Abrahams
Earlier this month at the iJED conference, AVI CHAI hosted a café that was devoted to online and blended learning. Throughout the conference, attendees could come in and have a cup of coffee, relax, network with colleagues and find out more about online/blended learning from the iJED Cafe vendors and presenters.
For those of you who could not be there, we now share a roundup of the various panels and presentations:
We began with a session on “Getting Started with Blended Learning.” Rather than explain blended learning in a frontal manner, Gary Hartstein of the DigitalJLearning Network and Dr. Eliezer Jones of the YU School Partnership led an exploration of what blended learning entails in a format that modeled a blended station rotation classroom. You can watch how they introduced this interactive exercise here (and at right). You can also watch a short video interview with the DigitalJLearning Network, which helps Jewish day schools integrate online and blended learning into their classroom environments.
To dive deeper into what blended learning actually looks like in today’s Jewish day schools, the café hosted two panels with school leaders who are on the front lines in implementing blended learning in their schools. The first, entitled “What It Takes to Be BOLD,” was comprised of three heads of school from BOLD Day Schools, established Jewish day schools implementing blended learning in their classrooms. The project, funded by the Affordable Jewish Education Project, the Kohelet Foundation and AVI CHAI, launched this past fall. You can hear the leaders of Magen David Yeshiva High School, The Moriah School, and Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey speak about the initiative here (and above), and you can learn more about BOLD Day Schools at www.bolddayschools.org.
The second panel hosted educators from new day schools which use blended learning as their primary model of education. Leaders from The Binah School in Sharon, MA; Yeshiva High Tech in Los Angeles, Yeshivat He’Atid in Teaneck, NJ and Westchester Torah Academy answered many questions from the audience about their educational and financial models. See an excerpt here (and at right).
Participants also had the opportunity to hear about some new and exciting initiatives in the area of Judaic Studies online resource development and delivery.
The Lookstein Center announced the establishment of The Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy, an online school that provides Judaic Studies courses for middle and high school. Chana German, Director of the Academy, explains the project in this short clip (and at right). Gemara Berura just launched a new blended learning platform for the study of Talmud. Coming off their work on Whack-a-Haman, Jewish Interactive showcased the various applications they have created and is currently looking for schools who want to partner on creating 21st century learning experiences in Judaic Studies. Mekorot is testing its new blended learning courses and is looking for pilot schools. We also heard from Aleph Beta Jerusalem Online University, Behrman House’s Online Learning Center and Thumbprint.
There is a flurry of activity in this new educational arena, and AVI CHAI was pleased to see that many school leaders at the conference were interested in the café offerings. If you want to learn more about AVI CHAI’s work in this area, you can listen to an interview I gave at the conference (March 3 show, starting at 18:30 minutes), and feel free to email me with any follow-up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Mohl Abrahams is Senior Program Officer at The AVI CHAI Foundation.