Israel’s education system looks set to receive another shot in the arm with innovative technology courtesy of Kadima Mada.
Nearly two years after it piloted Smart Classes in the Jewish State, World ORT’s operational arm in the Jewish State is trying out a British system in which teenagers use hand-held computers to record and assess the way they prepare a study project.
The system uses E-Scape (E-Solutions for Creative Assessment in Portfolio Environments) software developed over the past decade by academics at Goldsmiths, University of London and already widely used in England.
Kadima Mada is now leading the roll-out of Smart Classes across Israel through the $25 million Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative – and the interest already shown by officialdom in the new programme raises the prospect of it also being adopted nationally.
The Assessment in your Palm programme uses touch-screen technology to allow students to sketch and comment on ideas as they develop. Each group of three students using the system can dip into each other’s work-in-progress and comment on it. And their teacher can continuously assess their work on a website which stores the entire project as it unfolds so marks are given on methodology and creativity as well as the final outcome.
“Technology students have to document their design process whilst doing it but we find that most of the time they do it only after finishing the whole project in order to meet the assessment criteria,” said Kadima Mada Pedagogical Manager Dr Osnat Dagan.
“But it’s important to document things as they develop in order to allow for reflection, which is a vital part of the learning process. This is a very important programme. It develops high order thinking skills and allows you to evaluate and give feedback on processes in a way which is very easy and very friendly for both the teacher and the student.”
Because of her expertise in technology education, Dr Dagan was invited onto the evaluation panel for the British pilot six years ago while she was working for World ORT in London.
“Assuming that the pilot here in Israel will be as successful the system is expected to be adopted by the Ministry of Education in its assessment systems for the high school matriculation and for other external exams.”
The Kadima Mada pilot programme broadens the application of E-Scape from the original use in Technology studies to biology, ecology, economics, electronics, science, English, biotechnology, robotics and sociology.
Teachers from the schools participating in the pilot – Rogozin Junior High in Kiryat Ata, Nesher Senior High, Emek HaHula Junior High, Har VaGai Junior and Senior High Schools, and Sha’ar HaNegev Junior and Senior High Schools – came together at Nesher for an intensive two-day training seminar led by Kay Stables, Professor of Design Education and Head of the Design Department at Goldsmiths, who developed the system with Richard Kimbell, Professor of Technology Education at Goldsmiths and founder of the college’s Technology Education Research Unit (TERU).
“I think this is a really exciting project,” Professor Stables said. “The range of teachers and the range of subjects involved heightens the potential for how it can spread and how much we can learn through working in a different culture in different set-ups.”
The Mayor of Nesher, David Amar, attended a ceremony concluding the seminar.
“Kadima Mada are good people supported by wonderful donors and we have a team of teachers who willing to invest time and effort,” Mayor Amar said. “Together we need to take this opportunity to make the most of this new programme in order to help bridge the gap between the educational opportunities open to children in the periphery and their peers in the centre of the country.”
The Executive Director of Kadima Mada, Rony Kalinsky, thanked the mayor for attending.
“His presence bears witness to the cooperation between Nesher and Kadima Mada and to the importance attached to this cooperation,” Mr Kalinsky said. “This is a good project with a lot of potential. I’m sure it will bear fruit.”