The TEC Center Vision
Innovation in Leading Change through Multicultural Cooperative Online Learning and Teaching
Groundbreaking and Pioneering Programs in Israeli Education
As is well known, Israeli society is in a constant state of tension, which is only growing worse as conflicts between and among the various sectors come into starker relief. The secular Jewish sector, the religious Jewish sector, and the various parts of the Arab sector experience conflicts that become more serious, or less, depending on social and political developments in the Middle East. In the Israeli school system, the various sectors are completely segregated from one another: students in the secular Jewish, religious Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Bedouin and Druze sectors never have a real opportunity to meet and get to know one another, in depth and over time, or to study with students of other sectors in an institutionalized, cooperative fashion. In order to provide a response to the deepening chasms in society, the TEC Center initiated and developed a social and educational project designed to create a multi-sectorial discourse. It is the first project in Israel developed for multicultural cooperative learning in the different sectors of Israeli society, using computers and advanced technologies, providing a real possibility of narrowing the gaps and overcoming the physical barriers so as to generate long-term human encounters, while also respecting the differences between the students. The online learning becomes a shared journey of personal and multicultural acquaintance. Therein lie the project’s pioneering spirit and innovative approach.
Fostering Respect and Accepting the Other
The goal of the Center for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity is to assimilate the model of online cooperative learning in the school system in Israel, to change preconceptions, prejudices, negative opinions and stereotypes that affect Arabs and Jews, and religious and secular Jews in Israel, from an early age. The program’s goal is to develop inter-cultural relations in cyberspace, create relationships between teachers, students and young children in the school system, and start a discussion leading to understanding between the different cultures in Israel’s divided society. All those involved in the project hope that, through the encounter with The Other, and by generating an inter-religious and inter-cultural discussion, participants will feel that they are part of the same community – citizens of a state in which conflicts become challenges, quarrels become discussions between equals, and feelings of alienation become a sense of togetherness, on the way to a better, more democratic, pluralistic and tolerant society.
The TEC Model: Building Trust through Online Collaborative Learning
The educational model was developed at the TEC Center by three visionary women leading change in the Israeli educational system and representing three different sectors: Dr. Miri Sheinfeld, Dr. Elaine Hoter and Dr. Asma Ganaim. The model is designed to establish trust and relationships by cooperative learning of small multicultural groups, and is built on incremental progress: from online communication that ensures an equal platform for all, to an experiential face-to-face encounter. In the TEC4SCHOOLS Program, children from all the sectors meet weekly throughout the school year, in a safe social network developed at the Center and constructed especially for the program, in order to generate a dialog on multicultural topics relevant to their lives and to introduce them to The Other. The intimate encounter in the small group setting allows the formation of trust among the participants. The apex of the cooperative learning process is the face-to- face meeting, when the children host their learning partners at one of the participating schools. In order to implement the program and guide the children into a positive, educational dialog, the teachers are trained in cultural diversity and experience for themselves the process of getting to know the other and building trust with colleagues who teach in the other sectors. The TEC model is currently in the process of being integrated in several other countries, with the goal of promoting a multicultural dialog among children from different cultures. During the cooperative learning, both in the Program for the Future Generation of Educators and the Elementary School program, participants study the traditional texts of their heritage, as well as the traditional texts of the members of other religions and cultures. They are introduced to the common denominators of the different religions on selected topics, such as attitudes to the other, to the elderly and to music in various groups, while taking a human and emotional view of the other, and taking account of the differences and the similarities between them. The students learn to see the face of the other and to acknowledge that seeing the face of the other gives one the power to enrich oneself.
TEC’s Virtual Island
In order to deepen TEC’s learning processes and strengthen their relevance in the technological era, the Center enlisted educators, designers and virtual reality experts to create an additional virtual learning space TEC Island, where participants meet one another as avatars (virtual figures), and together learn about the different religions and cultures in Israel. Different games, structures, activities, missions and educational contents focused on cultural diversity in Israel have all been assimilated into this space.