Learning to use Technology in Education, at the Israeli way

Last week, we started the International Seminar Education for Technology and the use of ICT in Education. This full-time course is taking place at the Aharon Ofri Center - METC in Ramat Rachel. Its purpose is to share the Israeli know-how in the areas of education and technology with teachers, head masters, public servants, and other relevant actors in the education field with educator coming from developing countries.

Our group of participants is definitely diverse. We are 24 people of more than 10 nationalities, ages ranging from the 20s to the 60s, and the professions are very varied too: we have professors, public servants, managers, economists, engineers, among others. What we all have in common is our experience in the educational field and the desire to generate great changes in our own countries.

The first week has given us a quick look at how the educational education system in Israel works and its purpose to improve the learning and preparation of its students for the future through the use of technological tools. These days we have been part of a learning process totally different from the one we knew: engaging, interactive, collaborative, and that develops the students' 21st century skills. Below, some of the things that have surprised us the most and that we want to take back to our countries.

One of the best experience this week was a noteworthy professional visit to "ElOmaria Primary School", a school of the Arab sector in Israel, located in a city called Tira. It's one of the oldest schools in the country, founded 1926, and we were surprised with the technological advance they have. It means a lot of thing; for example: every student of the school learn Robotics, and the most surprising part is that they start in second grade.


We had a chance to attend several lessons and saw how the ICT is implemented in the educational process. For example, in the lesson of Math children could solve mathematical problems using learning computer program in their notebooks and then check their knowledge with the computers. In the lesson of English, students practiced their vocabulary skills with the help of tablets. Children, who attended extra-curricular activities presented their projects with technological elements. We were impressed how much ICT is used at this school. We are grateful to the Principal and teachers of this school for the warm welcome and sharing.

Other of the most relevant experiences for us this week was the Computational Thinking workshop that allowed us not only to discover the importance and value of this concept in basic education schools, but also allowed us to experience with our own hands the process of understanding and discovering the way computers think and work. During the day, we learned how to program objects with Scratch and how to design basic applications using App Inventor, failing and finding solutions all the same time.

In this way, we learned about computational thinking through our own experience. It helps us to realize that it is not only useful for our students to learn this type of concepts to improve their technical skills, but rather to develop their life skills, and in this way they can solve problems, gain independence, manage failures positively and thus, be more successful in the future.

What do we take away from this week? Much respect for the way Israel is using technology to boost the educational level. A lot of learning to take to our countries. And above all, a lot of work to start experimenting with new models and ways of doing things back home. Again, thank you very much METC - MASHAV for this transformative learning experience.

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