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Finishing our second Virtual Course – An experience of teaching and learning in the 21st century

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow”


On the last 16.08.2017, we had the last encounter of our second virtual course
“A dialogue on Learning & Teaching Strategies in the 21st Century”, a unique initiative develop by the Mashav Educational Training Center (METC - Ofri Center) together with the Department of ICT in Israel’s Ministry of Education.


We truly believe at the METC (Ofri Center) that we cannot continue educating the children of today –the 21st century- as we use to educate in the past. We need to adapt our Education to the needs of the present and to the possible challenges of tomorrow.


This virtual course, tried to do exactly that: It tried to develop a rich dialogue on how to adapt our teaching & learning processes to the 21st century; it tried to create a space where a variety of digital tools and innovative pedagogies can be exposed; and it tried to allow our alumni to experience a 21st century educational process that integrate technology as an essential tool in every teaching, learning and pedagogical interactions.


For me personally, it was a great educational experience, were we -educators from all over the world- met and continue to develop the learning community of the METC alumni. As one of the people that worked behind the scenes, I would like to share with you some thoughts regarding 3 aspects, which in my perspective were very enriching during this virtual course and in some way summarize the experience.



Shared Knowledge, Collaborative Learning & Skills development… Experiencing 21st century educational practices


Following the words written above, I believe that this course focused on many elements that are important for the needs of education today and are part of the variety of approaches that deals with adapting education to the 21st century:

Collaborative Learning and Shared Knowledge:
During this virtual course, a variety of educational models, theories and pedagogies were presented. The learning process included a variety of interactions and dialogues that allowed each participant to bring his/her own context and personal opinion, developing a shared knowledge that was built in a collaborative process. For example, during the course many topics included open questions and statements given to the participants, in which they had to refer to them using shared documents. This documents created a constant interaction between all the participants (every participant can see & interact with the answers given by others), and allow to build a shared knowledge on the topic through the personal knowledge of each participant. 

Exposure to information and development of a variety of skills: As written above, during this virtual course a variety of educational models, theories and pedagogies were presented in a dynamic approach that used a variety of tools and presented a variety of exercises that required from the participants the use of different skills (ICT, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, etc).  

Innovative Pedagogies: We believe that of the key elements that need to be adapted to the needs of the students of today and to the context of the 21 st century is the Pedagogy. Following this idea, this virtual course presented a variety of innovative pedagogies that in some way bring an answer to this challenges, that aim to engage students, that are effective in dealing with an heterogenic classroom, that give teachers tools for the integration of technology, that are effective for large classroom, etc.



Adapting and enriching the professional development of educators


I believe that this virtual course created a unique opportunity for professional development of METC alumni as lecturers, as teachers, as policy makers and as educators in general. In this regards, I believe there is a couple of main topics developed by this course:

Life-long learning:
This virtual course created a platform through which we had the chance to keep learning together with our METC alumni. Many experts around the world speaks about the crucial importance of lifelong learning for educators. In my opinion, this course allow us to continue learning through a multicultural dialogue that allowed a constant interaction between the previous knowledge of each participant, their own and unique context and the knowledge & theories brought by the facilitator and lecturer of the course.


Technology in the service of Pedagogy: One of the most challenging changes for Education in general and for educators and teachers specifically is the integration of technology and ICT in the educational process. This Virtual course allowed our alumni to experience an educational process that is based on the integration of technology & ICT, where most of the exercises and tasks done during the course used a variety of digital tools… and more importantly, this course tried to give an example of how a variety of ICT & technological tools can be used in order to serve different pedagogical and educational goals (like developing a rich dialogue between students, improving collaboration & join work, developing critical thinking capacity, etc.).

Enriching our Learning Community: I believe that this virtual course reinforced the importance of the METC alumni community as a learning community. The richness and meaningfulness of the course was based mainly on the learning interactions that were developed between the participants from the different countries, including the facilitator of the course. I believe that it is accurate to say that the learning community had a crucial importance in the learning process that developed in this virtual course. And I believe this was a great example of the meaningful learning process that can be develop through a community of learning (including of course peer-learning in a community of teachers).

 

 

Learning by doing – Hands On approach

Learning ICT by using it: As it was presented in the paragraph above, this course allowed the participants to learn how to integrate ICT in Education by using it and experiencing an educational process that integrates ICT. 

Connecting theory and practice – learning by doing: This virtual course included a learning process in which each participant was required to take the learned topics and knowledge formed in the course and implementing it in their own educational reality. For example, after presenting a topic in the course and having a rich dialogue on it, usually the participants were asked to prepare an activity or a lesson on it, implementing the new knowledge acquired. After doing this activity in their real classroom with their students, they were asked to share their experiences and their reflection on this implementation. This is an example of a learning process held in the virtual course, which included learning by doing, by experimenting. 



I believe this was a unique and meaningful learning experience, and I hope it was equally meaningful in the eyes of our alumni that participated in the course… In these days, the participants of the course are working on their final projects, and we want to wish them a lot of success for the implementation of their projects!


After finishing the second virtual course, we believe it present an opportunity to develop a much needed channel that allow us to keep learning together with our alumni around the world.


We hope to keep innovating together and we look forward to the next initiatives!

 

Ariel Cegla

Training Development Officer – METC