Education and Distance Learning
The term “distance learning” was familiar to us even before the Corona crisis, but in this era, the concept took on a new meaning and seemed to be a teaching method that the education system sought to implement even earlier, and no doubt a method that will remain long after the threat of COVID19 passes from the world.
Due to the history of the State of Israel, which includes wars and security incidents, it was expected that the system would be able to cope in an emergency situation. Although the Israeli education system conducts distance learning exercises from time to time, in readiness for a time when it may be needed for any reason, the real-time results were far from satisfactory. The operational and technological difficulties, together with general unpreparedness, were met by students and parents who had difficulty adapting. The result was a tangled mess that resulted in teachers, students, and parents being tied to screens for an unfamiliar routine, which included surfing between several systems and little actual learning.
In discussions with teachers and educators, parents and students, a number of key challenges were found in the distance learning platform:
The technological challenge
The technological difficulty affected teachers, parents, and students alike, with unfamiliar and fault-ridden digital systems. Some teachers displayed low technological capabilities and needed help themselves and were struggling without the ability and tools to get technical support. Parents found themselves facing connection failures again and again and would simply give up.
Creating an adapted curriculum
In frontal learning, a variety of tools, learning configurations, and technologies are used to create an enriching and achievable curriculum, which will provide children with the databases of knowledge and life skills they need. In distance learning and the limited technological format created, many educational institutions decided to allocate resources to core subjects only, in learning processes that require mainly repetition and practice, and which present substantial difficulties in creating effective or new learning. This leads to disconnection from the existing curriculum without providing any promising alternatives.
Creating an educational and social interaction
Schools and educational frameworks are intended for learning, but no less important is the existence of social interactions, integration, and the acquisition of tools for conducting oneself in social frameworks. All of these lose their power sitting in front of the computer at home. The possibility of silencing an entire class at the push of a button may be every teacher’s dream to create a quiet and a learning atmosphere, but it is a delusion as silence does not guarantee that the student is quiet and attentive. Moreover, it also eliminates the possibility of responding, asking freely, and having a natural discussion. Of course, the break times, enrichment classes, and social activities that were canceled during distance learning also created the social disconnect that directly affected learning motivation.
Distance Learning Post COVID-19
The gradual return to routine and the reopening of kindergartens and schools have not negated distance learning, and it can be said that the opposite is true. The need for advanced technological tools that correspond with the needs of the field has become clearer than ever. It is clear that whether it is a recurrent outbreak of the virus or for other reasons, Israeli students need an effective, experiential and fun distance learning system that will address the challenges we face.
MIC, Municipal Innovation Center, presents technological solutions in education, some of which are already implemented in Israel, and provides a solution to the needs of distance learning and improving the education infrastructure in general.
Amongst the solutions, you will discover the “class me” system that operates on a mobile platform, using an application that enables both educational and social communication in the palm of every student. The virtual space in the app allows direct communication with professional teachers, integration of classes on a variety of topics, access to individual support at an affordable cost, discussions, and enrichment in virtual classes, tools for teachers and principals to analyze the level of study and create advanced curricula and more. The system operates successfully in leading educational institutions in the United States and in one hundred and fifty schools in Israel.
As part of the desire to adapt the education system to the twenty-first century, both at the technological level and at the content level, another example presented at the center is “Eton.News”, designed to establish a true journalistic process among students and connect them to the media, providing tools for research and critical thinking, promoting creativity and developing writing skills, for teamwork and other important tools. The app works while creating a two-way interface between students and the local authority and allows students to research what is happening in the city and even publish columns and articles on local media channels.
The Municipal Innovation Center helps local authorities incorporate advanced technological tools in education and is a leading mediation agent between local authorities and the arena of technological innovation.