Jewish eLearning Fellowship Brings Together Institutions From Across Denominations

July 26, 2013 9:10 am 0 comments

From left to right: Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Yeshiva University, all in New York City. The institutions are all part of the new Jewish eLearning Faculty Fellowship. Photo: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – With the rise of numerous open online courses such as Khan Academy, Coursera, and other digital platforms, universities are feeling a greater need to embrace new technology as would-be students seek out more modern, effective ways to learn. To help the Jewish community adapt to the times, the new eLearning Faculty Fellowship aims to cultivate creativity and collaboration regarding the use of educational technology at higher education institutions across the denominational spectrum.

The fellowship, run by Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), brings together faculty members at the Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative), Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), and Yeshiva University (Orthodox).

“I’ve always been interested in developing my own digital literacy and want to help my students learn responsible practices in and out of the classroom. The fellowship was a great opportunity to learn some new platforms on my own and bring that to my students,” Dr. Barbara Mann, associate professor of Jewish Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary, told JNS.org.

Sponsored by major grants of $15 million to each participating institution as part of the Inter-Institutional eLearning Collaborative of the Jim Joseph Foundation—a private foundation incorporated in 2005 that has awarded more than $267 million, largely in the field of Jewish education—the fellowship began with its first cohort in early May.

“The participants are expected to practice using these tools and eventually develop an educational project that seeks to improve their teaching using technologies explored,” Maurice Matiz, vice executive director and director of technology at CCNMTL, told JNS.org.

Mann said that one of the projects that she will be working on as part of the program is introducing blogging to her students. She sees this as an opportunity for her and her students to learn more about the powerful platform, as well as improve their writing skills.

“Over the year the cohort will participate in five in-person sessions and five online [at-your-own-pace] sessions,” Matiz said.

As part of the ongoing course, the participants will be exposed to some of the leading experts and cutting-edge tools in educational technology.

“The group, led by our educational technologists, Dan Beeby and Tucker Harding, has already looked at a number of annotation tools such as NB (http://nb.mit.edu) and AnnotateIt (http://annotateit.org/). The group has also been exposed to platforms such as Canvas, Wikispaces, and Google Docs,” Matiz said.

Ever since the rise of the personal computer in the 1980s, educators have touted their belief that the use of technology in the classroom would revolutionize education. Yet some have questioned technology’s actual impact, given the enormous sums of money spent to bring laptops, tablets and other software tools into the classroom. According to a June 2013 report on online education technology in The Economist, the latest innovations may finally bring about a revolution in education.

“A number of big changes are coming at the same time: high-speed mobile networks, cheap tablet devices, the ability to process huge amounts of data cheaply, sophisticated online gaming and adaptive-learning software,” writes The Economist.

For Jewish educators, the eLearning Faculty Fellowship seeks to create a collaborative environment among some of the premier Jewish institutions in the U.S., to learn and evaluate a variety of different educational technology tools that will help educators, students, and institutions stay ahead of the curve.

“There is no doubt that technology is changing higher education,” Matiz said. “We just hope to influence the change to be on the side of student learning. That is, continually highlight the possibilities to improve cognitive gains rather than thinking of technology as simply a delivery system. The latter is important and necessary for dealing with scale and cost, but we must advocate the use of these technologies to engage, motivate, and inspire students, many of whom come to higher education already experienced at using advanced technologies in their high schools.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.