As part of AVI CHAI’s mission to support sustainable Jewish education, in October 2010, The AVI CHAI Foundation began promoting experimentation with online and blended learning in Jewish day schools throughout North America. Their motivation in doing so was twofold: 1) to improve the quality of education by increasing individualized instruction and enabling students to develop skills and ways of thinking that are needed in the 21st century, and 2) to reduce the cost of education. To date, AVI CHAI has invested a total of $2.5 million in this area of work and has ambitious plans for continued programming.
Additionally, AVI CHAI launched an online survey, the first of its kind, during the 2011/12 school year to gather information about the depth and breadth of online course offerings throughout Jewish day schools in North America.
The Foundation has now released a baseline report on the state of online and blended learning in Jewish day schools during the 2011/12 school year. Among the findings:
Online course adoption is slow; and has occurred recently; impacting few students across Jewish schools. However, Internet use to access resources is prevalent across all schools.
While the clear majority of these schools use the Internet to access Judaic resources, to provide faculty professional development (83%), or for networking purposes (60%), less than one-quarter (23.4%) offer online courses to their students. Even among the few schools that do offer online courses, relatively few of their enrolled students are actually taking these courses. Almost two-thirds (63.4%) report that less than 10% of their students are enrolled in the online courses. The largest portion (34.5%) of those who do offer online courses say that only a handful of their students (defined as less than 5%) are enrolled in the online courses.