eLearning Faculty Fellowship Launched by HUC-JIR, JTS and YU

To cultivate creativity and knowledge-sharing surrounding the effective use of educational technology in Jewish higher education, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) have launched an inter-institutional eLearning Faculty Fellowship. On May 7th, the twenty faculty members of Cohort 1 participated in the first of five live sessions to learn strategies, tools, and approaches for using educational technologies to improve student engagement and learning. All five live sessions and five additional online workshops will be created and led by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) at Columbia University.

The eLearning Faculty Fellowship is part of the Inter-Institutional eLearning Collaborative, which is itself a component of the Education Initiative – three major grants of $15 million each to HUC-JIR, JTS, and YU from the Jim Joseph Foundation to support graduate programs of Jewish education. The grants began in 2009. The Collaborative is designed to provide a framework for inter-institutional cooperation and to increase the number of faculty engaged in conversation and joint projects. A second cohort of fellows will begin next year.

In designing a cohesive curriculum for the Fellowship, material was adapted from seminars on teaching with technology that CCNMTL currently offers to Columbia faculty.

“We worked very closely with the institutions to develop a specific program based on our expertise in education, pedagogy, and technology,” says Maurice Matiz, Vice Executive Director and Director of Technology for CCNMTL. “Our approach is to elicit Fellow participation around a specific educational topic at the live sessions. These prompted discussions will lead to first-hand experience with technologies that enable and facilitate student engagement and learning. They will have the opportunity to explore how these tools can enhance existing courses, how curriculum can be adapted for online or hybrid courses, and how to constantly review the efficacy of tools for their courses.”

In the five online sessions, faculty will be provided with some deeper and asynchronous opportunities to further explore the tools, techniques, and strategies examined in the live sessions. CCNMTL will also host two “showcase” events per year where Fellows can share ongoing projects with each other and with other members of their institutions, who will be invited to attend. The Fellowship will culminate in a significant educational technology project that each Fellow will design and implement in his/her own teaching with the support of his/her home institution.

As a component of the Inter-Institutional eLearning Collaborative, the Fellowship is designed to impact the universities far beyond the 20 members of each Cohort. The “Open Collaborative,” as it is called, will include a website that is open to any faculty and academic staff at the three institutions to share resources and pose questions to CCNMTL staff members who will create and administer this site. Additionally, along with other activities, there will be three mifgashim-gatherings per year open to all faculty and staff. Held at each of the three NY campuses, each gathering will focus on a specific, current and engaging topic related to eLearning.

Additional information, including a listing of the Faculty Fellowship participants from all three institutions can be found here.

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