Shavua Tov! I hope everyone who is on vacation has been enjoying it. YU 2.0 has been hopping with activity, and I hope you take some time to check out some of the new posts and resources shared. As many of you are aware, the North American Jewish Day School Conference recently convened in Atlanta. While I was unfortunately not able to attend, I was able to follow along on the Twitter stream, and I also heard first hand from participants who were excited to extend the connections into the ‘real world’ that had been forged online on YU 2.0 and the other YU CoP’s.
One of the items discussed at the NAJDS Conference was the upcoming Digital Learning Day, taking place this Thursday, February 1st. The idea behind this event is to encourage, on a national level, educators to experiment with more digitial/web 2.0 tools into their classroom instruction. For more info, visit the Digital Learning Day website, or follow the discussion on Twitter by searching the hashtag #DLDay.
#EdTech Round Up
Apple’s Big Announcement
The EdTech world has been abuzz with Apple’s big “iBooks” announcement, and its potential for reinventing the school textbook. Apple’s announcement that they were getting into the textbook business, using the iPad as a platform to deliver interactive textbooks that can be continuously updated and are priced at the low price of $14.95, has many educational stakeholders salivating.
So what does Apple’s announcement mean? Check out The Ultimate Guide To Apple’s New Education Initiative on Edudemic for a full and comprehensive summary. To be sure, there are questions and concerns. The fact that iBooks are limited to the not-inexpensive iPad is a scary proposition for day schools that are already struggling with financial concerns, and for parents that are already paying high tuition fees. And educators have observed that Apple’s electronic textbooks are hardly transformational, amounting to nothing more than delivering the same old content curriculum in a bright and shiny package (“Apple’s Un-Revolutionary iBooks: Using tomorrow’s technology to tea...”). But that does not change the fact that for many, Apple’s involvement signals that a viable e-textbook solution is on the horizon (“This Is How Apple Changes Education, Forever”).
Of particular interest to Jewish educators are the textbook authoring tools that Apple has also provided, as this means that iPad textbooks should be able to be created for Judaic Studies content as well.
Check out this excellent post by Dr. Eliezer Jones on the topic on YU 2.0: “iBooks 2 announced! Great for Education; Game Changer for Jewish ed....” If this announcement by Apple has caused you to start imagining all sorts of incredible applications for Judaic Studies, please share your ideas in the comments or in your own blog post! For more info on iPads in Jewish schools, check out this recent New York Jewish Week article: “Trying Not to Smash the Tablets.”
Changes in the Way Students Work
As current trends, both in the overall EdTech world as well in educational in general, change the way our classrooms work and operate, it is also of course changing the way our students learn and work. A recent post on MindShift (“Redefining ‘Cheating’ With Homework”) talks about the collaborative nature of today’s students, and looks at a new web site, Slader, which uses a “Peer to Peer” model of students helping one another with math homework (for now – the site is looking to expand to other subjects as well). The site has an option for paying a fee to get help on math problems, but students can also accrue credits by offering their own expertise to help other students. The post raises some interesting questions on where to draw the line between cheating and collaboration. In 2012, is the sentiment that “if your students can Google the answer to your question, maybe you should rethink the question,” an accurate one?
Speaking of the way students work, many educators feel that it is important to teach students internet research skills from a young age. Check out this post from Eduotopia (“Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level”) by Mary Beth Hertz, which discusses some of her experiences teaching internet research skills to 3rd graders, including some helpful grade appropriate resources.
The Value of the PLN
Social media (including blogs, twitter, and the like) is a rich source of continuous professional development. But it can often be overwhelming. Check out this post from the popular “Free Technology for Teachers” site, appropriately titled “How Do You Keep Up With All This?”, which talks about ways to use RSS readers to keep track of new blog posts that are of interest to you.
On YU 2.0
Fear of Tech? Stew Greenberg shared a tongue in cheek (but quite powerful) video from Edmodo in a blog post entitled: “How to cope with colleagues who are reluctant to embrace technolog...
Blogging: Interested in learning about incorporating blogging into your classroom? Check out these two recent posts on the topic: “Blogging to Assess Understanding in Halacha,” by Ariella Allen, and “Blogs in language arts,” by Shelley Lawrence.
The Value of a PLN: Meir Wexler recently blogged about some of the rich connections that he has made with fellow educators through his online interactions, especially through Twitter and the Jewish Education Twitter Chat #JEDCHAT. The post is entitled “From So. Flo. to San Fran. - The Impact of a PLN,” and it talks about his recent experiences delivering a presentation to congregational educators in California via Skype, on project based learning.
Speaking of #JEDCHAT, the weekly Twitter chat meets at 9 pm EST every Wednesday night, and is open to all. It recently got some great press in the Washington Post, as it was included in an article written about how teachers are increasingly turning to Twitter and Twitter chats for professional development and support (“Teachers take to Twitter to improve craft and commiserate”). Check out the #JEDCHAT blog for more discussions on the value of a PLN.
Khan Academy: Laurence Scheindlin has a very comprehensive two part post on Khan Academy (Part 1, Part 2). His discussion looks at what Khan Academy does, its strengths and weaknesses, and what other alternatives may exist.
Stay tuned for some exciting announcements about upcoming YU 2.0 Webinars.
Meanwhile, check out some upcoming webinars hosted by other YU CoP’s:
YU HS Chinuch: Teaching How the Mesorah of Torah Sheba'al Pe Works. January 31st, 8:45 PM EST
Presented by Rabbi Kenny Schiowitz. This will be a presentation of a source based approach for teaching how the Oral Law works. People often struggle with questions like: How do we know that God gave an Oral Law? How do we know that we have it right (did you ever hear of the game of telephone)? What if we are not doing what God wanted? Why are there so many disputes in the Talmud? Doesn't that prove that we don't really know the truth? I will present traditional sources that engage these questions and offer inspiring ways of thinking about them. There will also be time for questions and discussions about this topic. Click HERE for more info.
YU eLearning: Online & Blended Learning in Jewish Day Schools. February 1, 12:00 PM EST
In honor of the first annual Digital Learning Day on February 1st, the YU School Partnership will be hosting a live webinar facilitated by Dr. Eliezer Jones, YU School Partnership's Educational Technology Specialist along with Esther Feldman, The Lookstein Center for Jewish education's Director of Information Technology and Financial Services and Smadar Goldstein, Founder and Director of JETS - Jerusalem EdTech Solutions. These three experts in the field of Jewish online education will be discussing this emerging field, best practices and experiences from the field. They will also be answering questions from participants about online and blended learning as well as answering questions submitted earlier by those unable to participate during the live session. Click HERE for more info.
As always, remember that the strength of our CoP lies in all of the wonderful resources and thoughts on Jewish EdTech that you can share! It may be "obvious to you," but it's "amazing to others!"