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Using Technology to Teach Talmud and Tora​h She’Baal Peh


Course Description:

 This course is largely “hands-on” with the goal of learning various technological tools for teaching Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh. The course will focus on both specialized Talmudic applications and free Web 2.0 tools for furthering communication, collaboration, constructivist and project-based learning, and the creation of compelling course content. Some examples of web-based tools that will be utilized include webquests, blogs, wikis, voicethread, Google Apps for Education, and PollEverywhere. Examples of Jewish Studies applications used include Bar Ilan Responsa and Gemara Berura. The application of advanced presentation tools like Smart Notebook, PowerPoint, and Prezi to Talmud instruction will be discussed. The usefulness of cutting-edge technology models like the Khan Academy for Talmud instruction will be debated. By the end of this course, participants should have created a number of project-based mini-learning assignments as well as one larger project to share with their colleagues and students.
 

Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this course, the learner will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate facility in using Web 2.0 communication and collaboration tools for student discussion and knowledge sharing in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh.
  2. Design and facilitate asynchronous discussion forums, audio and video group conversations, and opportunities for real-time student response that promote student interaction, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh.
  3. Utilize specialized Jewish Studies databases and web resources to further student research in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh.
  4. Divide and classify the Mishna and Talmud into their component parts and connect the various units of the Talmudic discussion using text mapping and flow charting tools available in word processing applications, concept mapping software, and specialized Jewish Studies applications.
  5. Create compelling course content in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh using various technological tools.
  6. Construct engaging projects utilizing various technologies to help students develop in-depth knowledge and important skills in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh.

Specific Course Requirements:

  1. Basic knowledge of the Jewish Holy Scriptures and Jewish literature.
  2. Ability to create basic word processing documents and presentations.
  3. You will need to create a Google account and accounts with other free Web 2.0 services for this course.   

Hardware and Software Requirements:

  1. Windows XP or a Mac with an Intel processor, or a comparable Linux based machine should be adequate.
  2. You should be running Chrome, Chromium, or Firefox web browsers (all free installs) for this course. 

Assessment and Grading:

  1. Weekly forum assignments after each lesson (30% of the grade).
  2. Mini project-based learning assignments after many lessons (30% of the grade).
  3. A term project utilizing a number of tools learned over the course of the semester to create a rich Talmudic or Torah She-Baal Peh instructional unit for students (40% of the grade).

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction – We will try to get to know each other in this online community in order to create a collaborative and mutually supportive learning environment. Our curricular focus will be on the rational for using educational technology in Jewish Studies.
  2. Web 2.0 Tools: Blogs and Wikis- In this lesson, we will learn how to use blogs and wikis for student communication, collaboration, and as a platform for asynchronous online discussion forums in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh. The pros and cons of blogs vs. wikis will be discussed. Specific Jewish Studies examples will be presented.
  3. Asynchronous Online Discussion Forums- In this lesson, we will discuss the advantages of creating online discussion forum to promote student interaction, debate, reflection, and critical thinking skills in Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh and present best practices for facilitating meaningful discussions.
  4. Voicethread for Reading Assignments- In this lesson, we will learn about Voicethread, an online tool to promote audio and video conversations and discuss its application to promote reading skills in Mishna and Talmud.
  5. Real-Time Student Response Systems- In this lesson, we will discuss the use of real-time student response systems which teachers can utilize to get instant student feedback using smartphones as a formative assessment and to facilitate 100% classroom participation. Applications to Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh will be discussed.
  6. Text Mapping Tools for Mishna- In this lesson, Mishnayos Beruros, a new tool in Gemara Berura’s technology supported Tamudic Learning methodology will be presented together with word processing based alternatives to this program. Strategies for creating student centered Mishna learning activities will be presented as well.
  7. Dividing, Classifying, and Connecting a Talmudic Sugya- This lesson is a continuation of the previous week and presents Gemara Berura’s skills based approach to learning a unit of Talmud with database tools, textmaps, and flowcharts. Other word processing  and cognitive mapping alternatives to Gemara Berura will also be discussed. Strategies for creating student centered Talmud worksheets will be presented as well.
  8. Creating Compelling Course Content- In this lesson, we will learn how to create compelling course content for Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh using presentation tools like Google Docs, PowerPoint, Prezi, and Smart Notebook. Research based best practices for presentations will be presented.
  9. Engaging Project-Based Learning- In this lesson, we will learn the theory and practice of using project based learning and think of its application to Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh projects. At this point, we will also begin to create our own term projects using various tools that were learned over the course of the semester.  
  10. The Khan Academy Model: To Flip or Not to Flip- In this lesson, we will present the Khan Academy model of using technology to “flip the classroom”. We will debate the value of this model, discuss whether it promotes project based learning, and present specific Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh examples of its use.
  11. Using Jewish Studies Databases and web resources for Student Projects- In this lesson, we will discuss the use of the web-based Bar Ilan Responsa project as well as other freely available online web resources for student research in Talmud and Torah She-Baal Peh.
  12. Google Apps for Education for Student Projects- In this lesson, we will learn how to use Google Apps for Education like Google Docs, Presentation, and Forms to collaboratively create meaningful Talmud and Torah She-Baal Peh assignments.
  13. WebQuests to support Project Based Learning- In this lesson we will learn about the webquest which is one model for Internet based Project Based Learning and we will see examples of WebQuests for Talmud and Torah She’Baal Peh.
  14. Presentation of Term Projects- In this lesson, as a summation of the course, students will post their completed projects incorporating themes throughout the course and give constructive feedback to others on the various strategies utilized for teaching Talmud utilized throughout the semester.
 Course Developer - Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, Pittinsky@gmail.com

 Lecturer