First training seminar for Kadima Mada innovators


18 July 2008 First training seminar for Kadima Mada innovators World ORT has delighted its partners in Israel by the speedy and efficient way with which it has introduced new, modern teaching technology at schools participating in its Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. Now, with the inaugural World ORT Forum for Innovation Leaders established by the Moshinsky family, the focus has switched to training teachers how to use the high-tech equipment with efficiency and imagination. Each of the more than 30 Kadima Mada schools have selected a teacher as an Innovation Leader, among whose tasks it is to lead the implementation of new science and technology initiatives such as the integration of ICT into the structure of their schools. It was these Innovation Leaders who have attended the five-day Seminar at the Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science. This is a milestone in the implementation of Kadima Mada, said World ORT Research and Development Coordinator Dr Yakov Ronkin. It was a positive and productive leap forward in the development of leadership skills among Innovation Leaders so that they will return to their schools and initiate different projects and lead their colleagues towards improving standards of science and technology education and the more efficient use of modern educational technology that we are providing. World ORT has provided dozens of schools across the country with some of the best educational technology available over the past 18 months including intelligent laboratories in which students use computer-linked sensors to record and tabulate results of experiments, extraordinarily versatile Interactive White Boards (IWBs) which replace the old chalk and talk approach, and fully equipped, high-tech staff rooms (WOTECs World ORT Teaching Empowerment Centres). Our commitment to raising educational standards in, and opening opportunities for, disadvantaged communities means that we have to take the long view, said World ORT Director General Robert Singer. In order for our investment in technology to bear fruit we must also invest in the professional development of those using it so that the whole pedagogical structure evolves. The Seminar is only the first step in World ORTs formal process of bringing teaching staff up to speed with the rapidly changing tools at their disposal. The Seminars academic programme, which was provided by the Weizmann Institutes Department of Science Teaching, focused on three main areas: wide-ranging practical workshops to enable participants to become fully familiar with the use of the equipment provided by World ORT, utilising new programmes and integrating distance learning technology; lectures by Weizmann Institute scientists on different areas of current scientific research; and pedagogic workshops examining, among other things, the use of computers and the Internet in class, ways of increasing students motivation and the practical learning of ideas. A particular challenge faced by us in organising this seminar was the variety of teachers participating in terms of their disciplinary backgrounds, the differences in character of their schools, and their ethnic backgrounds, Dr Ronkin said. However, Dr Anat Shayovits, Pedagogical Manager at World ORTs Representative Office in Israel, said that this challenge was surmounted in two ways: by having the participants work together on a common subject, i.e. technology in education, and by working in smaller groups which allowed them to relate what they were learning to their own fields of expertise. We encourage cooperation between the Kadima Mada schools, Dr Shayovits said. A spin-off benefit of the Seminar is that such cooperation is enhanced. A wider benefit of this whole process is that, because the Kadima Mada programme benefits a wide range of non-Jewish as well as Jewish schools, we are helping Israeli communities to transcend their differences. Among the participants was Diab Soued, a teacher in the Arab town of Shfaram, near Haifa. World ORT has fulfilled my wish of bringing new technology to my community, Mr Soued said. Now this Seminar has given me the pedagogical tools to use the equipment fully and to bring more innovation to my school using my own initiative. Tali Beeri, who teaches at Kfar Blum, near the borders with Lebanon and Syria, praised the winning team of World ORT and the Weizmann Institute of Science I have gained a lot from this combination, she said. At the Seminars closing ceremony, Professor Batsheva Eilon, the Head of Science Teaching at the Weizmann Institute, cautioned participants to pace themselves for the task ahead. Making change is a big challenge, Professor Eilon said. You must be patient and not try to force change but to allow it to permeate. And Dr Chana Vinik, the Head of the Science and Technology Department at the Ministry of Education told the teachers: You are pioneers; you are creating the role of Innovation Leader. We will learn from you how to do this. Next years Seminar is due to take place in Mexico for Spanish-speaking teachers.