Tech-i-ya 2.1

Adrian Durlester

So what does it mean to be a 21st century educator? This wiki on the 21st Century Teacher, highlighted by the good folks over at Edutopia  helps you to discover the answer. It appears on Edutopia, in their feature “Twenty Tidbits for New Teachers,” which is a worthwhile read for experienced teachers as well. Another tip on the site which I highly endorse is their recommendation thsat teachers star bloggin. It is an incredibly useful tool for professional and personal reflection as an educator.

In addition to Google+ and Edmodo, which I’ve mentioned in previous articles, there’s a lot of buzz around a new service, Collaborize Classroom. It’s yet another effort to incorporate social media tools into the classroom, and so far the feedback has been pretty positive.

iPads were last year’s hottest item that teachers wanted to use in the classroom. This year, it looks like the success of the iPad has actually proven to be a boon for Apple’s biggest rival in this arena, the Android-based tablet a some colleges and school districts are beginning programs that utilize them. The iPads in Education blog is a great place to see how these powerful tablets are being integrated into education. Tablets offer a particularly interesting potential for radically changing textbooks as we know them, enabling a true real-time 2D (and even 3D) form of hyper-texting,  the idea that gave birth to the world-wide web. Besides, let’s face it-how can we possibly resist the idea that “tablets,” something from the very start of Judaism, may become the future of Judaism as well? Seems somehow apropos.

Looking for some quick feedback from your first days of school (from parents and students) try Quickie Q (now known as QuestionPress, or Answer Garden  two of the latest response systems. Answer Garden, in particular, is for quick, no frills responses. You can always fall back on my previous suggestion of Poll Everywhere. It’s still my favorite and among the most versatile and customizable of the response tools available.

Seems only apropos that a site was developed to facilitate the use of Twitter in education, and here it is: Twiducate – It was developed by teachers for teachers and is free.

In my previous Tech-i-ya, I promised some follow-up on Google+. At this time, it still hasn’t been incorporated into Google Apps for Education, and with the school year just underway, there haven’t been many reports. I’m following the topic very closely and hope to bring you more information on how Google+ (as well as Edmodo and Collaborize Classroom) are being used in education.

I’ve administered and worked in enough supplementary religious schools to know that truly being able to utilize and incorporate the level of technology that’s required for many (if not most) of the tools I’ve suggested Tech-i-ya is a challenge. I’m also coming rapidly to the conclusion that it is a challenge that we must overcome. Technology is no panacea, it is not a solution, it is a tool that we can no longer afford to ignore, or postpone incorporating into our methodologies and pedagogy. I fully understand and appreciate the concerns that many Jewish educators have about the way that the use of social media, and the society it is creating collides or is in conflict with what they believe are certain core values and ethics in Judaism. My belief is that technology is a tool that we can use, better even co-opt in service to our higher ethical purposes. In addition, if we believe that aspects of the technology and social media are in conflict with core Jewish values, do we not have an obligation to actively engage in the use of technology and social media to help our students and future generations recognize the need for balance, and ethical and moral guidance in the use and application of these technologies? If we are merely oppositional, I do not believe we can succeed. Even in the more observant communities we are seeing the trends-witness the concept of “half-Shabbos” being kept by many teens (see “For Many Orthodox Teens, ‘Half Shabbos’ Is A Way Of Life.”

Friends, we’re getting better, but we are still woefully behind the integration of technology and social media into Jewish education. There are many reasons, and I am not here to point fingers. I am here to point the way to possible paths to help all of us catch up.

As you start using technology tools in your work, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Do you have a favorite online resource that might be unknown to others, or simply one that’s so useful you want to share it anyway to be sure as many people as possible know about it? I’d love to help you share the love. Need more information, some hand-holding, some translation of techo-jargon? You can reach me at my contact points for my Technology in Jewish Education consulting work: e-mail Twitter: @yoeitzdrian I also blog and tweet as @migdalorguy and @havanashira.

Adrian A. Durlester (aka MigdalorGuy or Yoeitzdrian)