What is more important for a Jewish informational web site – being on the first page of Google search results or having credible, high quality content? Is the Internet just another tool in the arsenal of educators, or does it fundamentally change the way in which learning takes place and the power relationships between students and teachers? Is online learning over-hyped, or is it the future of Jewish education? These were some of the questions discussed at the first New York FutureTense Roundtable session held last week.
Developed by PresenTense, the FutureTense Roundtable convenes a diverse group of young Jewish pioneers, or “disruptors”, to talk about what is to come in a specific field. The goal of FutureTense is to provoke and spread new thinking about key issues affecting the future of Jewish life, to enable innovators to share best practices, as well as to provide participants with specific ideas to bring back to their work in the community. For this New York-based cycle of the Roundtable, PresentTense is partnering with JESNA’s Lippman Kanfer Institute: An Action-Oriented Think Tank for Innovation in Jewish Learning and Engagement, which is serving as host and facilitator of the sessions.
This year’s Roundtable consists of a series of sessions focusing on the changing landscape of Jewish education. The two dozen participants in the Roundtable work in a variety of settings and arenas in the Jewish community, and with populations that include children, teens, young adults, educators and the community at large. Each session opens with brief presentations from three of the participants with particular interest and expertise in the theme for the evening – in this case, the impact and future of online Jewish learning. Kicking off this first session were Daniel Septimus from MyJewishLearning.com, Caren Levine from Darim Online and Etheoreal and Russel Neiss, a co-developer of Media Midrash, a new online resource for educators. To keep the conversation going between the face to face discussions, the FutureTense group has a private blog.
Future sessions will focus on Jewish learning in the context of service and social justice, through arts and culture, in emerging spiritual communities, and in conjunction with new forms of community building on and off line.
For more information about FutureTense in New York, feel free to contact Monica Rozenfeld at Mrozenfeld@jesna.org.