Tech Rav
Discussions of Jewish EdTech

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doctoral Dissertation on Educational Technology

One of my goals this summer is to (finally) write my doctoral proposal. I am working on an EDD from Yeshiva University's Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. While my general area of research will be educational technology (of course) I am still trying to narrow this down to a particular topic that both interests me and is doable. Currently, I am leaning towards researching student participation in online discussions forums like the Frisch School Wiki that I have described in previous posts. I am collecting my articles for my Lit Review using Refworks and have exported the 50 most recently added/changed sources into an RSS feed which should appear below. Please follow my Twitter feed as I will be tweeting my short (140 characters or less) comments on these articles as I read and reflect. I welcome your comments about other articles and/or areas of research that I should pursue.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

New Online Talmud – Tzurot hadaf with OCR –

The following notification was sent to me by Rabbi Shalom Berger of Lookjed who received it from Rabbi Dr. Moshe J. Yeres:

*New Online Talmud – Tzurot hadaf with OCR – of interest for Talmud
Full Talmud Tzurot hadaf with OCR scanning of all text is now available at . While the full text of the Shas has been
available until now as either jpg graphics at e-daf or
as text format at snunit and machon
mamre , this is first time the full
Shas is available in a tzurot hadaf form which is actually scanned in OCR
text. For the Talmud educator, this means that a full clear tzurot hadaf of
Vilna page of Talmud can be projected on a screen (or smartboard) to class
in a form which they can relate to (Vilna Shas page). The teacher can then
block and copy parts of text into Word for further class analysis and
example. This can be done for any text found on the daf including
commentaries, mesoret hashas etc. It seems like this should be a helpful and
easily accessible tool for educators teaching Talmud. More about this online
Shas and its features at .

Friday, June 05, 2009

Frisch School Wiki

Just posted on Lookjed:

Dear Shalom and List:

In this past edition of Jewish Educational Leadership, I wrote an article with my colleague Tikvah Wiener about the Frisch School Identity Wiki that we started this year. Our intention was to create an online community to connect our 9th grade teachers and students throughout various curriculum areas focusing on the theme of Identity. I wanted to quickly share a few results from our wiki experiment.

I am happy to report that this project was an unbridled success. We had almost 180 students and over a dozen teachers participate with over 1500 moderated discussions on various pages on topics like Leadership, Civic Responsibility, and Return to Zion all flowing naturally from the lessons in various departments and subject areas.

In their postings, students reflected on ideas in class and posted content including articles, links, pictures, and videos. For example, there was a fascinating discussion about the Rav's article on the Korach's Rebellion in which 2 different classes commented on the ideas put forth by Rav Soloveitcheik as well as posting comments on each other and on the other class' postings. There were discussions on the role of Modern Orthodoxy today using an article by Michael Broyde, and discussions on civic responsibility using updated versions of cases we were studying in Gemara Bava Kamma. These are just a few of the fascinating discussions on the wiki.

Towards the end of the year as a culminating assignment, many students created their own wiki pages where they posted multi-media materials integrating ideas that they learned from various subjects this year that affected their sense of identity. Through the wiki, we were able to create an academic "Facebook" where students used every Web 2.0 tool available in a mature and sophisticated way to think, discuss, and reflect. I hope to follow up in the future with qualitative research about the nature of these online discussions.

Next year, Tikvah and I plan to expand to a 10th grade wiki on the theme of Discovery in addition to the 9th Grade Identity Wiki so that we can gradually involve more of the school in this safe online environment. I am also reaching out to a school in Israel which I hope to include in the Wiki as well so that we can have a common learning space between students from different schools across the globe. If you would like to take a look at the Frisch Wiki, it can be found at This is a password protected wiki for the security of our students so please contact me if you would like a username and password to view the wiki.
Kol Tuv,

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Twitter in the Classroom

I just wrote the following query to Lookjed, the Jewish Educators discussion group on using Twitter in the classroom. You can follow the discussion thread here: Lookjed Archive. I will post updates as responses come in.

Dear Shalom and List:

I just watched the following intriguing video by a professor at University of Texas at Dallas about using Twitter in the classroom for students to instantly post answers to teachers questions (using their cell phones or personal laptop) that are projected to the front of the room: []. I have been using Twitter to follow fellow educators and learn about what's new in the classroom but I never thought of using it with my students. It brings back fond memories of my days in Nehama Leibowitz's class when she would ask questions and require every student to write their answer on scrap paper. I always thought this was impractical in a Yeshiva High School class with over 20 students but with students "Tweeting" their answers it can be done instantaneously. Even the 140 character limit on Twitter can be a benefit since it forces students to be short and succinct in their answer rather than over fluffy and indirect.

My question is do any educators on this list have experience using Twitter or similar Web 2.0 tools in the classroom? Also, do any educators have classroom experience using cellphones as an educational tool rather than disciplining students for cellphone use as is the norm in most schools?

I welcome your responses.

Kol Tuv,