A few days ago, my daughter turned one. While celebrating her birthday with friends and family, the discussion turned to how nice it will be preparing for the moment when she begins to ask such fun questions as ‘why is water wet’ and ‘how can ants sleep’. My husband suggested, “it would be great if we could buy a book with all these questions collected together and answered.” Then, I remember how when I was a child there was in fact such a book, it was called “Pochemuchka.” It was a sort of encyclopedia filled with knowledge for children, where someone could find the answers to almost any question.
The conversation turned towards the composition of all of our bookshelves, and we soon realized that one category of books that was prevalent in our childhood has lost all relevance in today’s world, a world in which knowledge is easily accessed within seconds of searching the Internet. No longer do we need 20 volumes of encyclopedias weighing down our shelves, books that require opening specific alphabetized volumes and searching through thousands of irrelevant words to find the term we are interested in.
Sometimes, I feel as if we have forgotten, or, rather, we don’t even imagine what new opportunities we have today thanks to the Internet.
In an interview with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk argued that today’s human has actually become a cyborg (short for cybernetic organism, or a scifi robot that combines both mechanical and biological principles.) Elon Musk claims that, today, our smartphones have become an extension of our bodies.
While difficult to imagine, to some extent this fact is true. Today, it is difficult for us to imagine how to get from point A to point B without planning our route on a map in our smartphones, or how to bake a pie without following instructions, filled with photos, from a culinary website, or even how to check the meaning of an unfamiliar word without typing it into Google.
Is the new reality a challenge for us as educators? Sure. We, the educators, and our students are physically acclimated to being online at all times. It has become quite clear that commanding students to place their phones in a box at the entrance of the classroom is far from optimal. Besides the fact that we are in the habit of regularly checking our phones, the presence of the smartphone in our lives has an effect on our skills at, and method of, perceiving information, concentrating, and learning.
What do we do?
There are many answers to the challenge of incorporating the Internet into the classroom.
For one thing, you can use ready-made resources that already exist on the Internet.
- A great example of an online resource would be the Yandex.Tutorial project, offering teachers already developed learning materials – more than 45,000 free math problems and Russian-language assignment for students in grades one through five.
- Another example is the 1968.digital project that introduces students to history in a unique interactive manner.
- In the Post-Science project, students can watch short videos from scientists dedicated to various scientific fields.
- Meanwhile, the website of the Booknik project can provide teachers with quizzes dedicated to all the holidays of the Jewish calendar.
We don’t have to only rely on ready-made resources, especially as there are not as many resources related to Judaism, but we can also integrate modern technology into our lessons ourselves using “helpers” that have been developed for anyone to use!
If you want to take a conceptual look and introduction to gaming and interactive technologies, check out the Game Design course prepared for the JES – Jewish Educators School by Leonid Rosenhaus.
- Using the Kahoot website, you can create interactive polls and quizzes for your class. These tools are an excellent way to test knowledge skills, or get students excited at the beginning of a lesson.
- At Prezi.com, you can prepare beautiful, unusual presentations to help visualize your speech.
- You can use online message boards to divide students into work groups and expand group work outside of the lesson.
- Prepare beautiful and stylish handouts and infographics using Canva, where you will find hundreds of ready-made designs for any purpose.
I especially would like to draw your attention to the Granatum.Solutions platform, which opens up almost limitless possibilities for creating virtual lessons, and provides both technical and methodological services, including for Jewish subject matter. This platform is great because it allows people in different parts of the world to participate in a program at the same time,and in turn, enables us to arrange joint lessons.
There are those who see a threat to natural development from the implementation of technology in the educational process. However, this is incorrect.
Maria Montessori, doctor, teacher, scientist and founder of the Montessori method, lived in the first half of the 20th century, and saw in her child an extremely important function to the development of civilization. In her book, The Absorbent Mind, she writes:
“Therefore, today, a child should be considered as a connecting link between different eras of history, different levels of civilization.”
She writes further:
“Nevertheless, in this inert creature there is an all-encompassing force, a human creative entity that forces him to form a man of his time, a man of his civilization. And in this ability to absorb, that which he possesses, he follows the laws of growth, which are universal for all mankind. ”
If you follow the logic of Maria Montessori, the child will develop according to the universal, inherent laws of growth, becoming “a man of his place and time.”
Today’s time is impossible without technology, which will develop more rapidly and faster. Therefore, not only is it in our power, but also in our interests, to try to keep up with them in order to remain relevant for our students.