28 January 2009 Innovation Co-ordinators conclude first year’s training The teachers at the heart of World ORTs mission to raise the level of science and technology education in Israeli schools have concluded their first years training feeling invigorated and empowered. Each of the more than 30 schools participating in World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme have selected a teacher to be Innovation Co-ordinator, who leads the implementation of new science and technology initiatives such as the integration of ICT into the structure of their schools. These Innovation Co-ordinators attended a one-day session at the Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science recently to tie up the training and development they have been doing since the first seminar, a five-day event sponsored by the Moshinsky family, back in July. Since the July seminar, the Innovation Co-ordinators have been helping colleagues at their respective schools understand and use the educational technology being provided by World ORT from intelligent laboratories to Interactive White Boards, and computer-linked robotic kits to high-tech staff rooms (WOTECs World ORT Teaching Empowerment Centres). They have also been meeting virtually via videoconferencing and the Internet to develop study material for teachers in all the Kadima Mada schools to use with the advanced equipment which World ORT has been providing. The conclusion of this first stage of the Innovation Co-ordinators training has left participants feeling confident about their role in Kadima Mada. This training has enriched us in a multi-faceted way, which suits the interdisciplinary nature of the role we play, said Ruth Goren, Innovation Co-ordinator at the Shifman High School in Tirat HaCarmel. We feel trusted and that strengthens us and gives us space to implement change. Its important that we continue to receive this support as an important group within the system. And the training has deepened the teachers understanding of their new role, as Avner Ron, Innovation Co-ordinator at Hodayot Religious Youth Village, said. The role is about changing outlook and how we perceive teaching and how we practice teaching, Mr Ron said. We have to move from writing to a technology that is connected to science and research. The hardest thing is to lead this change in the daily framework. Anat Ezer, Innovation Co-ordinator at Misgav High School, added: One of the best things about this role is that we have become people who are dealing with pedagogy. Were in the centre of public debate within the school. Were dealing with questions ranging from how to use a new technological tool to appreciating the relevance of these tools to the pupils. The training so far had provided the Innovation Co-ordinators with leadership and other skills, a basis on which they could implement real change, Mr Ron said. Ms Ezer agreed, saying: Everything we have received from Kadima Mada obligates us to press forward; these are not gifts but a commitment, and its hard work. Whats been done until now is just the beginning and its important to continue in this framework. One of the highlights of the seminar was a session in which some of the participants gave presentations on their experiences and successes in introducing innovation in their respective schools. Among the presenters was Hussein Salami (pictured), Innovation Co-ordinator at the Druze Horfeish High School. World ORT provided 10 smart classes at the school since when Horfeish has raised the money to install a further nine. Himself a graduate of the school, Mr Salami served in the IDFs Education Corps, completed a computer science degree at ORT Braude College of Engineering, and is now head of Horfeish High Schools computer science department. A discussion on the way forward was initiated by Tali Beeri, who teaches at Kfar Blum, near the borders with Lebanon and Syria. We should have the courage to introduce innovative methods of study where the pupil produces the information himself and isnt directed by the teacher, where he will study independently actively and not passively, Ms Beeri said. Such study could be made possible by the advent of far reaching databases in the Internet and Mr Beeris comment resonated with Dr Miri Kersner, Head of the Davidson Institutes Department of Teacher Training and Professional Development. We need to go towards study that is centred on the pupil. In this seminar we have laid the foundation focusing on knowledge, technology and leadership. Now we need to continue to the next stage that will lead us into the 21st century, Dr Kersner said. Keynote speaker Professor Shlomo Beck, President of Kaye Teachers College in Beer Sheva and a member of the Kadima Mada Academic Advisory Council, commented: To what extent do we really expect a child to produce information To really progress we need to ask what is study in the eyes of the pupil, what is important for him to study. And the Head of the Davidson Institute, Dr Ariel Hyman, added: Todays high school students relate to things in a different way to us. We need to find the right balance between independent study and commitment to study. This is all food for thought at World ORT staff in Israel prepare to discuss with the Davidson Institute the nature of future training. However, the Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, said the performance of the Innovation Co-ordinators so far has been impressive. They are ordinary members of staff at their schools, they dont have any authority, so they must know how to fulfil their role by consensus, Mr Kalinsky said. Because of the training they are able to show their colleagues new things, such as how to work with the Internet, new ways of teaching with new technology. The proof of the trainings value was the fact that the Innovation Co-ordinators attended all of the sessions, he added. These schools are not run by World ORT, we cant compel people to attend these training sessions, he said. If the training was not good they would not come. Now, after a year working together, I can see how we could not work without them. Their role within the schools is very important for World ORT; they are like our representatives, not just for the organisation but for our mission. They can make a great success of our efforts.