As class is about to begin, I can hear the familiar music that lets me know we are technologically connected. I go to the TV, push in the videotape and press the record button. Suddenly I see my classmates as we unite to video conference together. They are in West Palm Beach, Florida; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Kansas and Miami, Florida. We greet each other with a “Shalom, Ma Ha inyanim?” (What’s up?) just before our professor in Cleveland lets us know that it’s time to work. We have so much to discuss in our two hours together.
HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
Technology and Jewish Education
Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion
Every once in a while new emerging technologies “rock our world” - personal computers entered the market in the 80’s, the internet sprang into action in the early 90’s - and just as our lives have changed, so has education. The educational world does not always embrace change enthusiastically, but it is inevitable that changes in the way teachers and students live will change the way schools educate. Computers and networks are now part of the classroom in public and private schools across the modern world, although even in Jewish day schools they are used more for the advancement of general studies than of Jewish studies.
In his profound book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam discusses how Americans’ “social capital”, i.e., the nature of and extent to which we relate to one another, has been progressively shrinking. The book’s title stems from research that has ascertained that while there are more Americans bowling today, they do so as individuals rather than within leagues. Isolation from human interaction has many effects. It undercuts our sense of democracy—the recognition that our society is composed of multiple ethnic and national groups and the importance of all of us being represented and heard by government. It affects our need and ability to empathize with those who are different from us and our opportunities for exchanging ideas and concerns, exposing ourselves to those who may disagree with us. Human interaction can even teach us a thing or two that is currently beyond our experience, and make us sensitive to the needs of our fellow citizens and human beings.
Once again, this issue of HaYidion will be one you will want to keep. Within it are cutting-edge articles discussing the very latest in technology-related topics. Not only does this issue inform you about methodologies, resources, practices and opportunities, but it also provides a moral and Jewish context in which to consider and evaluate the opportunities, challenges and risks that 21st century technology offers the Jewish educational world.
In the last thirty years major technological advances have formed the way we work and live. Three are:
The Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt Technology K-12 program at Donna Klein Jewish Academy has not only touched the lives of faculty and students alike, but has completely changed the way in which students are learning.
The internet is a wonderful source of information. With a few clicks, you can find a good restaurant, a medical diagnosis, Letterman’s Top Ten list from last night, or an essay on the history of Purim. But the internet is also full of dangers for the unwary; not just from the sexual or emotional predators we hear about, but from spiritual predators as well.