Tech Rav
Discussions of Jewish EdTech

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Student centered, technology assisted, cooperative learning at MIT

The January 13, 2009, NY Times article, At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard, By SARA RIMER, describes how MIT has replaced its required freshman Physics course which was given in a large lecture hall, with a smaller student centered course in a technology enhanced classroom. In the new course, students learn in groups around computer terminals with the professor acting more as the "guide on the side" by giving short tutorials and reviewing difficult concepts as students work through problems. The article claims that as a result of this revamped introductory course attendance is up while the failure rate has gone down.

My question is how this can be applied to the elementary and high school setting. Is such an approach best only for the sciences or can it work equally well in other General and Judaic Studies courses? What experiences have you had with successfully (or unsuccessfully) implementing such courses in a Yeshiva day school? I have strong opinions about this type of approach but I would like to hear from others in the field. I welcome your constructive feedback.

You can follow this discussion, which I also posted on the Jewish Educator's Bulletin Board, Lookjed, at,17604,17604#msg-17604.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The First Web 2.0 War

As the Israeli air strikes on Hamas in Gaza continue and the ground offensive has begun, Israel is fighting the war on another front, the war of public opinion. This is nothing new. Hasbara has been important since Israel's inception over 60 years ago and it is an area where American Jews can do a great deal to help. For years, individual Jews have used Web 2.0 tools like blogging to watch the way Israel is covered by the media.

In the current war. there have even been groups springing up on Facebook, most notably, "I Support the Israel Defense Forces In Preventing Terror Attacks From Gaza” which currently boasts 46,161 members and counting. You can read about this group in Gaza Wars — On Facebook. However, even this group, started by IDF veteran Joel Leyden is still the work of interested civilians and not officially sanctioned by the Israeli Defense Forces.

What is new is the effort by the IDF to officially use these Web 2.0 tools to get their message out. The Israeli army recognizes that in the 2006 campaign, Israel lost the media war and this shortened the time Israel had to fight on the ground. In the current conflict, the IDF is using every tool at its disposal to win the war of public opinion. With this in mind, Israel has opened a new front in their media campaign, Web 2.0. I believe this is the first time an army has organized a coordinated media campaign using sites like YouTube and blogging. Through these sites, Israel can get out its message unflitered by the often slanted world media. These sites also speak the language of the younger generation who will much quicker turn to YouTube for information than read a newspaper or even watch the news on TV.

The IDF has launched a channel on the video-sharing website YouTube - The videos on this site illustrate the tremendous care and precision that our defense forces have taken to target terrorists while minimizing civilian casualties and assisting humanitarian aid. The IDF has launched a Blog or what they call a Vlog because of its use of video diaries by IDF spokespeople. You can visit the IDF's new blog - - for news and other multimedia content.

Kol Hakavod to ZAHAL and Kol Kavod to the Israeli Defense Forces' Spokesperson's Unit for fighting the campaign of world opinion on Web 2.0!