Warsaw Teachers Learn the Art of Online Instruction …. Online!
R. Stan Peerless, JETS
The challenge of reviving the remnants of Central and Eastern European Jewish communities has been taken on in recent decades by the Lauder Foundation. The Foundation has developed a network of Jewish day schools to service the primary centers of Jewish population. Yet, an additional challenge has emerged in recent years – how to reach the considerable number of Jewish students who live outside of larger population centers?
The Lauder Foundation believes that the solution to this challenge lies in modern technology that enables distance learning through the use of easily accessible computer conferencing platforms. The Foundation recently embarked on an experimental program designed to train teachers in the Lauder Morasha School in Warsaw to acquire the skills of online teaching. The goal of the program is to empower the Lauder Morasha School staff to teach students in remote areas through distance learning programs that include both Jewish and general studies. How do these Polish teachers learn about online teaching? Of course, they themselves are engaged in online learning.
In establishing the program, the Lauder Foundation consulted with JETS (Jerusalem Ed Tech Solutions), a Jerusalem based Judaic distance and online learning provider. JETS conducts a similar program called JconnecT which enables students in smaller Jewish communities throughout North America to learn about Judaism together in the same virtual classroom on Sunday mornings. Seven Lauder Morasha teachers participated in a series of webinars conducted by JETS director, Smadar Goldstein, to learn how they can implement the JconnecT model in their locale. In the first few webinars, Smadar guided the Polish teachers through the use of the Elluminate computer conferencing platform and a variety of online learning tools that facilitate student engagement, enhanced student oral and written response, foster cooperative learning, and facilitate authentic assessment. After observing best practices modeled by Smadar, the participants practiced using the tools in their own lesson preparation. In subsequent webinars, the Polish teachers, who have already begun their online teaching, have had the opportunity to deal with their actual questions and concerns by sharing and discussing their online successes and challenges with Smadar and each other. As Smadar puts it, "Our goal is to create an online professional learning community that can provide knowledge, skills, and ongoing support for these budding online teachers."
The Lauder Morasha teachers have expressed their satisfaction with their own learning process.
I learned the ‘how to’s’ of being a successful online teacher!
I’m excited to do all these activities with my students!
I think that my success are smiling faces of my students singing with me and that they can say something in hebrew it's only few words but on the other side they'are only 6 year old :)
My students and I really liked the icebreakers! It helps create an online community. I didn’t think we’d be able to, but we did! They said they can’t wait for the next session...thank you!
Online learning has indeed made the world a smaller place. Teachers in Warsaw can now impact on students in remote parts of Poland, with a little help from their colleague in Jerusalem.
1. Restart your computer. A tech guy once told me ‘it’s like erasing the board. You want to start each session with a ‘clean slate.’ Restarting your computer knocks out any kinks in the system. 2. Use a USB headset. It gets rid of echoes and background noise. Can you use a non-USB headset? Sure. But then you’ll have echoes and background noise. 3. Shut off all downloads and programs that you aren’t using in your session. Make sure other computers used in the house also aren’t involved in heavy downloads during your session. If you’re internet is really rocky, shut off all other computers from the internet. 4. Upgrade your bandwidth to the highest you can afford. This will involve spending some time on the phone with your phone and internet companies. Annoying, but vital. 5. Use wired, instead of wireless, whenever possible. You will have a much better connection. 6. Setting:
a) Lighting. Use bright lights next to you (but out of sight of the camera), not overhead lights.
b) Background Noise: get rid of barking dogs, noisy fans and loud ringtones. Silence your phones, ask your kids to keep quiet. This is a class and should be treated as such!
7. Use different browsers. For example, if Chrome has problems, use Firefox. You’re not married to your browser. It’s ok to change. Browsers: Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, 8. Get a Testing Partner:
a) Platforms and Links: Always test your platform and links before class WITH SOMEONE ELSE. Among your peers, please find a testing partner, or consult if you have access to a local tech person in your school, shul or community. Any voki, scribblar, voicethread or other tool that you plan on using in your class should be tested ahead of time.
b) ideas: Bounce ideas off of a testing partner or practice an activity and gather feedback. Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions, or to bounce ideas off of! Smadar@jetsisrael.com
9. Setting up your ‘classroom’: Just like you (sometimes) get to school early to do your photocopying, or set up your Smartboard or bulletin board, log on to your platform early - at least 30 min before your session! Set up your PPT, links, whiteboards, and whatever else you need.
Keep a list of the links you plan on using in your class open on a Word or Google Doc as backup.
Some benefits of setting up your online classroom is that a) you (probably) don’t share it with too many people, or perhaps anyone at all! b) you can set up your room way ahead of time if you know that will coming in at the last minute. Can a class be successful without previous set up time and lots of planning? Probably. But save that card for emergencies. They will happen! 10. Saving Resources. Chances are, you are investing lots of time into preparing your lessons. Multi-media needs to be saved and bookmarked as well as word documents in files and folders. Where do you save videos, clips, commercials, etc, that you use during your lessons? There are a few suggestions out there. Do what works for you.
Create a Delicious or Diigo Account (online social bookmarking)
Save educational and favorite videos on YouTube playlists.
Create a wiki and save them all there. JETS will be creating a wiki for us to stay in touch and we will certainly have a RESOURCES page.
Check the Online Teaching Haiku and add your own resources to the Tech Toolkit block.
save them in a Google Doc or Spreadsheet
FOR ELLUMINATE USERS ONLY: Do before using an Elluminate session: Clearing Java: A tech support person at Blackboard Collaborate Elluminate recommends that this action be done before beginning a session to avoid getting thrown out of a webinar. To clear the Java cache, you will need to select Start > Control Panel. Change the 'View By' option to 'Small Icons'. Double click the Java icon, this will bring up the Java Control Panel. Select Settings under Temporary Internet Files, then select Delete Files. Make sure all the boxes are checked, and select OK. Restart your computer.
The research suggests that distance and online learning programs offer a variety of potential benefits that include:
·Enhancing curricular offerings;
·Engaging personnel that are well trained pedagogically and have subject matter expertise;
·Enhancing student learning through increased engagement, individualization, and differentiation; and
·Expanding the students' learning environment.
For this reason, the use of distance and online learning in public education has exploded in the last several years. The attached paper surveys the research on this phenomenon and suggests that now is the time for Jewish day schools and complementary schools to reap the benefits of these new technologies. It also provides suggestions for maximizing the success of distance and on-line learning.
Modern technology has changed the way in which students learn and has simultaneously provided new venues for effectively delivering educational services. Distance and online learning have the potential to significantly enhance Jewish education if properly employed. Read more …