Interactive education revolution launched in Israel


08 February 2008 Interactive education revolution launched in Israel World ORT in partnership with the Ministry of Education, local authorities and Kadima Mada schools has planted the seed of an education revolution in Israel with the introduction of smart classes at the Kadoorie Youth Village. The creation of 10 smart classes at each of six selected junior high, and high schools each featuring interactive white boards (IWBs) linked to laptop computers and connected to World ORTs international videoconferencing network constitutes Phase 5 of our Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, which was launched one year ago to raise the level of science and technology education in Israel. Until now, the IWBs, which replace the traditional chalk and talk approach, have been introduced to only 27 Israeli schools and then in only one classroom each. Ultimately, World ORT aims to bring this cutting edge, interactive technology to all the Kadima Mada schools in more than 30 municipalities. Today is a revolution and I dont use the word revolution lightly, said the Minister of Education, Professor Yuli Tamir, who inaugurated the smart class at Kadoorie this week. Today were taking the first step in the process that will bring Israeli schools into the 21st century. It was a sign that schools were catching up with childrens use of technology, added Professor Tamir, who went on to thank World ORT for its partnership with her Ministry and municipalities in implementing Kadima Mada. Professor Tamir invoked the name of one of Kadoories most famous graduates, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was known for his passionate commitment to education. People ask me what Yitzhak Rabin would say about the education system in Israel today. I think that if he was with me today, in Kadoorie, he would be very pleased as I am. In addition to Kadoorie, smart classes will be introduced at Shifman School at Tirat HaCarmel, Shaar HaNegev High School, Horfesh High School, Beer Shevas Makif Aleph High School, and Misgav High School in the Galilee. The investment means that between one-quarter and one-third of each schools classrooms will be turned over to the new technology. Each class will feature an IWB attached to the teachers computer and an LCD projector, a laser printer, teaching software and wireless network. Each school will be provided with 32 laptops enough for two classes that can be supplied to classes as and when needed thanks to the wireless connections. The schools with smart classes will also be linked to World ORTs videoconferencing network which will eventually link the Israeli schools with ORT institutions in Russia, Argentina, Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Italy, Uruguay and others. World ORT has experience with smart class technology in its schools around the world including ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg, which last year won Russias highest award for innovation and excellence in education. The Mayor of Lower Galilee, Moti Dotan, welcomed guests including mayors and principals from Tirat HaCarmel, Horfesh and Shaar HaNegev, whose schools will soon benefit from similar smart classes to Kadoorie. He said World ORT was an important organisation, whose contributions over the past 128 years to Jewish people around the world were not widely known. Its the responsibility of everybody present to change this situation because of the extreme importance of the connections between the Diaspora and the citizens of Israel. World ORT contributes practically and outstandingly to make sure this relationship is strong, Mayor Dotan said. Kadoorie Principal Hillel Hilman said the inauguration ceremony at his school was symbolic of the good that Kadima Mada was bringing to all Israelis. We have Muslims, Arabs, Sudanese refugees and Jews learning here, Mr Hilman said. Our students are a microcosm of Israeli society. Mr Hilman was among many who praised the efficiency of the small, dedicated team at the World ORT Representative Office in Israel which has been implementing Kadima Mada. Guests at the ceremony sat in on a chemistry lesson to see a white board in use. Teacher Dalit Avigad told them: I am really excited by this. This technology allows the style of education in Israel to be relevant to this generation of students and provides an improvement both technically and in content. I expect this to make learning more experimental and, therefore, more significant. I also expect students grades to improve. One of her 11th grade students, Maya Buganah, said the IWB made the exchange and presentation of information much more efficient and convenient. Digital results from a laboratory experiment, for example, can be fed instantaneously into a computer and shown live on the white board where it can be manipulated. The technology does not replace the central role of personal contact between teacher and student, Maya said. But it makes studying much more efficient because everything the teacher wants to give us can go directly into our laptops. Its more inspiring and interesting and its also fun! Among the guests was Terry Azose, a member of ORT Americas Executive Committee. This is so inspiring, Mrs Azose said. We see the hope in the childrens faces and we know that the Science Journey project is beyond belief. You have to see it to fully appreciate the depth and expanse of it. Its important for our supporters to come to Israel to observe for themselves what Science Journey is doing because once they do they will support it even more. The Chair of ORT Americas Executive Committee, Shelley Fagel, added: This has been a very special day for what is a phenomenal programme. The fact that the Minister of Education took time out of her busy schedule to be here speaks volumes. Its very rewarding to see what we have been able to accomplish. World ORT Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg said there was good reason for the excitement felt at the launch of Kadima Madas fifth phase. Ive never seen something whereby you can draw people into the class this way, Dr de Gunzburg said of the IWB technology. Its a new way of teaching, whether for science, history or other subjects. Were building on the remarkable progress that weve made over the past year. This is a tribute to partnership: World ORT, which is able to bring money and pedagogical expertise, the Ministry of Education, which has the political clout and the municipalities which have responsibility for education. Its a partnership that really works. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said the aim was to bring the smart class technology to all schools in the Kadima Mada programme. This is a very important step in the development of the Kadima Mada project in Israel, Mr Singer said. But this is just the first step in the gradual introduction of this technology. Installing the equipment is straightforward; the challenge is to implement this new style of teaching. The schools in each new step will learn from the experience of those preceding them. The Mayor of Shaar HaNegev, Alon Schuster, whose municipality is under daily rocket fire from Gaza, told the ceremony that the smart class technology would be 100 times more important in his area than in other parts of Israel because of the enormously beneficial effect such demonstrations of support bring to local residents. Both Mayor Schuster and Arie Fargun, the Mayor of Tirat HaCarmel, thanked World ORT for its support and the Ministry of Education for its involvement in developing the Kadima Mada partnership. And the Mayor of Horfesh, Rekad Kheredin, said he looked forward to the installation of the smart classes in his town because of the contribution they will make to overcoming the challenges that Druze students face in the education system.