Thursday, April 21, 2011

Answers to Open the Door

Peter Eckstein is one of my favorite colleagues. Not only is he a professional and a deep thinker, but he likes the Grateful Dead so much that Terrapin is part of his e-mail address! He called me recently to talk over some ideas about using technology in our work - it was one of several calls he had with a bunch of colleagues. Hopefully you received an invitation to the survey from JESNA or some other source, but if not, click here. This is the beginning of a conversation. For all of our sakes, I hope you will join in! Here is his post about this from his blog, The Fifth Child. (His blog is definitely worth following!) 

Pesach is a time for questions.

So, in the spirit of the season, I would like to ask you some. I’ll start with one: How do Jewish educators learn to use 21st century educational technology in the Jewish classroom? This will lead to a few more. What follows is a survey with 15 questions (an auspicious number for Pesach). The goal of this short (5-8 minutes) questionnaire is to find some answers to the question of how and what we learn.

My friend and colleague Barry Gruber recently posted a piece about the smorgasbord of opportunities to learn what the ‘net provides. He’s right – it truly is a blessing. I wonder if this cornucopia is so bountiful that there will be many who, like the 4th child, will be so intimidated by all the resources available that they will be daunted by the act of beginning to learn. They won’t know where to start. They won’t know what to ask. If this is the case, what should we do about it?

Ergo the survey. This is an independent project to explore the nature of on-line Jewish professional development related to the utilization of educational technology. It’s focus is to find out how we Jewish educators learn about these new tools, where we learn from, and if we need to make these learning opportunities more accessible. I'm hoping that this information will help shape the way Jewish educators can easily learn more about the use of digital tools in their classrooms.

Teaching is leading. We educators create an environment for our students to construct their knowledge base. The tools that are being developed today and tomorrow empower us to achieve this goal. The complicated part is that we need to learn how to use them. There’s the rub. What’s the best way for the educators, who can’t go to conferences or don’t have local resources provided by central agencies, to learn how to take the next step into the world of digital Jewish learning?

Questions. There are many. And the answers may lead us to an understanding of what we can do to build a solid base of Jewish educators who can comfortably engage their students, speaking a common language. This is why I’m asking you all to take part in this adventure.

I must thank Jonathan Woocher and Rebecca Leshin of the Lippman Kanfer Institute for supporting this project and providing the platform to make it possible. I also want to acknowledge the many educators in the Jewish cloud who have contributed ideas to help create this survey. There are too many to mention by name, but I do want to thank you all for you assistance.

So please click here to access this professional development survey. Answers can be signposts leading us in the direction of creating Jewish futures for our students. We just need to start with the questions. Together let’s find the answers.

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