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PAGE 8B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 2, 2013 Higher education institutions from across Jewish denominations part of new eLearning fellowship By Sean Savage JNS.org With the rise of numerous open online courses such as Khan Academy, Coursera, and other digital platforms, universities are feeling a greater need to embrace new technology as would-be stu- dents seek out more modern, effective ways to learn. To help the Jewish community adapt to the times, the new eLearn- ing Faculty Fellowship aims to cultivate creativity and col- laboration regarding the use of educational technology at higher education institutions across the denominational spectrum. The fellowship, run by Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), brings together faculty members at the Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative), Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), and Ye- shiva University (Orthodox). "I've always been interested in developing my own digital literacy and want to help my students learn responsible practices in and out of the classroom. The fellowship was a great opportunity to learn some new platforms on my own and bring that to my students," Dr. Barbara Mann, associate professor of Jewish Literature at the Jew- ish Theological Seminary, told JNS.org. Sponsored by major grants of $15 million to each par- ticipating institution as part of the Inter-Institutional eL- earning Collaborative of the Jim Joseph Foundation--a private foundation incorpo- rated in 2005 that has awarded more than $267 million, largely in the field of Jewish education--the fellowship began with its first cohort in early May. "The participants are ex- pected to practice using these tools and eventually develop an educational project that seeks to improve their teaching using technologies explored," Maurice Matiz, vice executive director and direc- tor of technology at CCNMTL, told JNS.org. Mann said that one of the projects that she will be work- ing on as part of the program is introducing blogging to her students. She sees this as an opportunity for her and her students to learn more about the powerful platform, as well as improve theirwriting skills. "Over the year the cohort will participate in five in- person sessions and five online [at-your-own-pace] sessions," Matiz said. As part of the ongoing course, the participants will be exposed to some of the leading experts and cutting- edge tools in educational technology. "The group, led by our edu- cational technologists, Dan Beeby and Tucker Harding, has already looked at a num- ber of annotation tools such as NB (http://nb.mit.edu) and AnnotateIt (http://annotateit. org/). The group has also been exposed to platforms such as Canvas, Wikispaces, and Google Docs," Matiz said. Ever since the rise of the per- sonal computer in the 1980s, educators have touted their belief that the use of technol- ogy in the classroom would revolutionize education. Yet some have questioned tech- nology's actual impact, given the enormous sums of money spent to bring laptops, tablets and other software tools into the classroom. According to a June 2013 report on education technology in The Economist, the latest innovations may finally bring about a revolution in education. "A number of big changes are coming at the same time: high-speed mobile networks, cheap tablet devices, the abil- ity to process huge amounts of data cheaply, sophisticated online gaming and adaptive- learning software," writes The Economist. For Jewish educators, the eLearning Faculty Fellowship seeks to create a collaborative environment among some of the premier Jewish institu- tions in the U.S., to learn and evaluate a variety of different educational technology tools that will help educators, stu- dents, and institutions stay ahead of the curve. "There is no doubt that technology is changing higher education," Matiz said. "We just hope to influ- ence the change to be on the side of student learning. That is, continually highlight the possibilities to improve cognitive gains rather than thinking of technology as simply a delivery system. The latter is important and necessary for dealing with scale and cost, but we must advocate the use of these technologies to engage, motivate, and inspire stu- dents, many of whom come to higher education already experienced at using ad- vanced technologies in their high schools." Parents as the heroes of their colIege- aged children Join us for a FREE Shabbat Dinner followed by our friendly Friday Night Shabbat service on August 23 at 6:15 pm. Open to all returning members, new members, and prospective members. Reserve your space - Call SOJC at 407-239-5444 Check out our website www.so|c.or g for information about our spectacular Shabbat Services, Religious School, Kadimah and USY youth programs, adult education opportunities, special kid's programming for the high holidays and we offer conversion classes! If you or someone you know is interested in converting to Judaism, ask Rabbi HiUel Skolnik about the conversion class that he will be teaching beginning August 14th. Class topics include: A trip though the Hebrew Bible Fundamental beliefs of Judaism History of the Jewish people Learning to Read Hebrew The Jewish Holidays Flow to bring Judaism into the home What it means to keep Kosher A trip to the Supermarket to find Kosher items Jewish Values Modern Jewish life in America and the world The liturgy and structure of our services Jewish Life Cycle Events The class meets Wednesday evenings from 7:30-9:30pm at the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, 11200 South Apopka Vineland Road Orlando, FL 32836. Cost of the class is $375 which includes all texts (does not include fee for using the mikvei, or ritual bath). For more information contact Rabbi Skolnik either by phone - 407-239-5444 - or by email - rabbi@sojc.org. By Hershey Novack JNS.org After endless shopping trips, anxious parents will soon deliver their children to college for the first time. Some will be cooped up with their soon-to-be-independent high school graduate for many hours on a road trip. Other families will fly. While the method of trans- portation may vary, one constant theme is the ap- prehension a parent may experience while bringing a college freshman to campus for the first time. It may be the students' first time away from home, and for parents, the feeling that "my little one is growing up" can be quite disconcerting. For many, this is their first child, and they arrive on campus with open eyes, voraciously absorbing all that the university offers, excited for their child's new opportunities. For some, this drop-off may have a hint of sadness: they are now empty nesters. As campus rabbi at Chabad at Washington University in St. Louis (Wash U), I have participated in many move- in days. I have observed nu- merous tender moments as parents bid farewell to their children after spending most of the day schlepping and unpacking. I have also seen an occasional awkward moment, as parents or students grapple with the realization that they are unready or unwilling to recognize the dynamics of their shifting roles. Fret not, parents. There is good news. In their recent book, "Gen- eration on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student" (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean wrote of college students: "When asked to name their heroes, [undergraduates] didn't cite celebrities or cor- porate, government, or social leaders. Less than one percent named people like Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, AI Gore, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, their teachers, or their professors. They dis- missed cultural heroes. [...]" "Instead, a majority (54 percent) of undergraduates named their parents as their heroes. In total, two-thirds (66 percent) cited a family member." The high regard that col- lege students have of their parents has increased dra- matically over the past 20 years. When a similar study was administered in 1993, about the same proportion of students admitted to having heroes, yet only 29 percent of them indicated that they saw their parents as their heroes. In their more recent study, the proportion nearly doubles. There are many reasons for this shift. Simplest is an increase in technologies that allow parents to be a phone call or text message away. Indeed, 41 percent of students admit to communicating with their parents once per day. Many students truly adore, respect and idolize their parents. Their values, experi- ences, and occasional cringe- worthy humor all provide a safe center around which young adults orbit. Parents are their sense of balance and their strength, even if they may seem to chafe at a parent's presence. College is when young people will attempt to de- fine themselves as emerg- ing adults. Just as they are maturing, the parent-child relationship will inevitably shift as well. The core values and beliefs instilled in them do not disappear in college. Quite the contrary, we often find students coming to our Chabad house for a Friday night Shabbat dinner or Rosh Hashanah services, as that is what their family did back at home. Many others choose to attend, as well, because they know it will make their par- ents--their heroes--proud. Rabbi Hershy Novack is be- ginning his 12th year direct- ing Chabad on Campus- Rohr Center for Jewish Life serving Washington University. He may be reached at rabbi@ chabadoncampus.org.