19 May 2006 Wingate Seminar examines the use of video conferencing in education The seventh annual Wingate Seminar draws to a close today in London. Fifteen senior educators from ORT schools, centres and affiliated colleges in Israel, France, America, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Russia and South Africa have spent a week together exploring the use of video conferencing in education. The seminar Video Conferencing, Education Sans Frontieres is sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Charitable Foundation. The opening of the seminar featured a live, simultaneous video link between seminar participants and ORT colleagues in Strasbourg, St Petersburg and Buenos Aires. There was also a taped message of support from Roger Wingate, who voiced his enthusiasm for the tremendous possibilities opened up by video conferencing technology. Video conferencing brings ORT together. Clockwise from top left: Gerard Mamou and Claude Sabbah, ORT Strasbourg, Baruj Zaidenknop and Jonas Paiuk, ORT Argentina, Wingate Seminar participants, and Avi Ganon, World ORT Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia. World ORTs Head of Education and Technology, Dr Gaby Meyassed, said the seminar would investigate the capacity of ORT schools around the world to engage effectively with video conferencing technology. The technology is not new, Dr Meyassed said, but its use in education has now come of age as communications networks and increased bandwidths have become more available and affordable. The technology adds a vital dimension to long distance learning with schools able to bring overseas experts and historical sites into the classroom interactively. However, we dont know to what extent teaching via video conferencing in effective and easy to use, Dr Meyassed added. That is what were going to try to discover during this seminar through live experience, case studies and lectures by experts. World ORT Director General Robert Singer and Head of Education and Technology Dr Gaby Meyassed. Among the invited experts who have addressed the seminar are Alison Walker, a teaching and learning advisor with the Welsh Video Network; Russ Colbert, Global Education Market Manager with Polycom; Semadar Goldstein and Marc Rosenberg of Bar Ilan Universitys Lookstein Centre for Diaspora Studies; Andrew Campbell, Interactive Video Distance Learning Coordinator for COSI Toledo; Jo Hunt of the Imperial War Museum; Steve Beckley, Regional Support Manager for Tandberg; and teacher Mike Griffith. Five presentations have also been given by seminar participants Gabriel Rosa of ORT Uruguay, Yossi Israeli of ORT Operations USA, Andrey Semenov, Alexander Zak and Vayl Kondrashov of ORT CIS, Olivier Heidman of ORT France, and Dr Eli Eisenberg of ORT Israel. The seminar has also opened its doors to British observers who stand to benefit from the lectures and workshops: Elian Korenfeld of Friends of Bar Ilan University, education consultant Dr Gaby Goldstein, Daniel Marcus, Head of Jewish Studies at Yavneh College, and Pamela Hartog and Gaby Ruppin of the Leo Baeck Institute. British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman told seminar participants that he had embraced technology in his working life and argued that advances in telecommunications meant video conferencing was now a practical option. Video conferencing will also mean a reduction in the need for air travel and so can help the environment, Mr Goldman said. ORT is grasping the nettle early in this process of adopting video conferencing. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said there was no overestimating the importance of the Wingate Seminar as well as World ORTs other international learning opportunities such as the Hatter Technology Seminar. The closure of ORTs Central Training Institute in Anieres, Switzerland, in the 1980s was seen by some as the loss of our family silver, Mr Singer said. But thanks to the generosity and commitment of the Wingate family, this seminar brings back to ORT a system through which professionals from different countries can speak together. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish educational and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.