The TEC4SCHOOLS Program
An Innovative Program by the TEC Center for Social Change through Multicultural Cooperative Online Learning and Teaching.
The Center for Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity has come together with the Kibbutzim College of Education and the Ministry of Education to create an inter-religious, inter-cultural discourse between all parts of Israel’s multicultural society. Currently, the TEC4SCHOOLS Program is the most comprehensive program in Israel for multi-cultural education, involving more than 100 schools and over 3,000 children.
TEC4SCHOOLS: A Groundbreaking and Pioneering Program in Israeli Education
Israeli society is in a constant state of tension, which is only amplified as conflicts amongst Israel’s various sectors become more frequent. The secular Jewish sector, the religious Jewish sector, and the various parts of the Arab sector experience conflicts that oscillate 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. There are very few opportunities to develop relationships with students from other sectors or study with students from other sectors in an institutionalized, cooperative fashion. In order to provide a response to the deepening chasms in Israeli society, the TEC Center and the Ministry of Education initiated a social and educational project designed to create multi-sectorial discourse. It is the first program in Israel developed for multicultural cooperative learning in the different sectors of Israeli society. Using advanced technologies, TEC4SCHOOLS provides a platform to narrow gaps and overcome barriers facing cross-sector relationships with the overall goal of creating positive, long-term student-to-student encounters that respect the unique differences between the students. The online learning, facilitated by specially trained teachers, becomes a shared journey of personal and multicultural relationship building and growth.
The TEC4SCHOOLS Vision: Fostering Respect and Accepting the Other
The TEC Center’s goal is to assimilate the model of online cooperative learning in the school system 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, connect 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, one day, when the children who participated in the program grow up, they will, when meeting "The Other," feel 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 of the TEC Center was developed 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 in small multicultural groups (each group consists of six children from three different sectors), and is built on incremental progress: from online communication that ensures an equal platform for all, to an experiential face-to-face encounter. The children meet weekly throughout the school year, in a safe social network developed 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 children. The apex of the cooperative learning process is the face-to-face meeting, when the children host their study 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, the students study the traditional texts of their heritage as well as the traditional texts of the children of other religions and cultures. They are introduced to the common denominators of the different religions on selected topics, such as the attitude 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 the TEC4SCHOOLS’ learning processes and strengthen the relevance of the message in the context of 21st century content, the Center has enlisted educators, designers and virtual reality experts to create an additional virtual learning space: "TEC Island," where the children meet one another as avatars and learn together about the different religions and cultures of Israel. Different games, structures, activities and educational contents focused on cultural diversity in Israel have all been assimilated into this space.
The program also includes a research component that indicates that the students' experiences in the program in the 2015-2016 school year have already led to a significant decrease in the students’ negative opinions regarding other cultural groups.
“LIFE SHARING” PROGRAM
The 21st century is characterized by access to information and communications and exposure to world cultures, but also by tensions and stigmatization among different cultures. Consequently, considering the multicultural reality in schools in Israel, we see an obligation to train the next generation in tolerance and mutual respect through innovative, meaningful educational processes, using a variety of technological platforms. The proposed program includes the assimilation of educational processes based on human values and on a heritage of mutual respect, familiarization with other cultures, openness, communication and advanced technological skills. The program will show that it is possible to employ today’s technological reality in order to encourage communication among pupils from different cultures, and to deepen their familiarity with the culture of “the other": to find the shared universal values alongside the unique values of each culture. This innovative model of online teaching and learning enables topical contacts to be made among participants in a safe environment regardless of stereotypes and external appearances, and enables participants to focus more on reciprocal learning and enrichment processes while holding a meaningful dialogue. In a culturally diverse society such as Israel, which is also characterized by tensions between cultures, a unique model is needed, based on know-how and successful experience, with the aim of leading the educational communities towards a more enlightened future. The TEC model is the only one that integrates meaningful collaborative teaching and learning and develops debate based on mutual respect, which is essential for a multicultural society such as Israel. TEC teaches values and cultural diversity in advanced educational environments.
Teachers – the number of places during the 2015-16 school year is limited to 6 teachers from each school.
The objectives of the program
to train teachers to develop and lead school-wide initiatives in a multicultural online environment; to expose teachers to content that promotes learning in a global environment; to develop empathy and tolerance towards diverse cultures; to develop and cultivate meaningful collaborative teaching and learning; to develop teaching and learning skills according to the TEC model (a model for developing collaboration); to train teachers to continue multicultural and online collaborative activities in innovative environments after completing the program.
We are proposing to implement a unique program that promotes meaningful collaborative teaching and learning in an advanced culturally-diverse environment, with the aim of promoting education based on values of innovation, openness, collaboration and mutual respect. The program is based on a unique academic model – the TEC model, which has been publicized in various academic journals and is recognized by many international conferences. The model ensures gradual progress in a number of educational and learning dimensions: independent and collaborative teaching and learning; significant innovative pedagogy; familiarity and openness with the culture of “the other” while presenting one’s own culture; internalization of human values and mutual respect. The teachers in this program receive training in the operation of models and tools for collaborative online learning in a multicultural environment and acquire advanced information and communication skills.
The courses are thirty hours each. The courses are recognized by New Horizon and are intended for teachers at all levels; it is an online course for online collaborative teaching and learning in a multicultural environment. The course will take place in a synchronous and asynchronous online format and will be taught by expert and experienced lecturers in this field, based on the TEC model. During each stage, the teachers learn about a model and acquire tools in the field of online collaborative teaching, in order to develop and present classes using a collaborative approach and to design assignments for pupils using the models and tools acquired during the course. A face-to-face classroom course for meaningful teaching according to the TEC model: a concentrated course (3 days), during which teachers will learn about the TEC model and be introduced to similar programs. Collaborations with other schools are developed during the course, so that every three schools constitute a cluster in which teachers will develop and implement a joint program together. During the course, discussions will be held on the program’s opportunities and challenges; participants will become familiar with and gain practical experience in using the teachers’ learning environments and in operating in networks; the teachers receive constructive evaluations throughout the process of learning and implementing the model. social, educational and multicultural and developing online acquaintances.
Content of continuing education classes for teachers
The course content will be developed by experts in the TEC model and in online collaborative teaching. The course will be open to the general public after the program is completed. The selected teaching and learning environments and the course content will be conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The lecturers, developers and operators of the courses are experts from the various sectors and speak all three languages.