Investment in Smart Classrooms in Israel Soars

World ORT is bringing 1000 interactive classes to schools in Israel’s peripheral communities.

The organization’s goal is to raise the standard of Israeli education and World ORT has now received a major boost with the Government’s commitment to help it expand its pioneering roll-out of ‘smart classrooms’ into a NIS 100 million ($27.5 million) project.

A further NIS 21.5 million ($5.9 million) has been set aside for their program to create six Centers of Excellence – three in the Galilee and three in the Negev – to provide enrichment activities for high-achieving students and help for other students to improve their results and broaden their skills.

Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee and Vice Prime Minister, Sylvan Shalom, made the announcement at ceremonies marking the installation of smart classrooms at a primary school in Rosh Pina and a high school in Tsfat, the latter’s new facilities funded with help from the Edmund J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.

Addressing the students among the crowds, Mr Shalom said: “The revolution we are leading today gives you the tools and the opportunity to fulfillyourselves. I’m a great believer in education as the key to success in life. Today, you are given this opportunity for progress, technological innovation that we don’t have even in the center of Israel.”

The students shared the Minister’s enthusiasm, with one telling him that the new Interactive Whiteboards were “a thousand times better” than the traditional boards.

More than 150 classes are already operating Interactive Whiteboards and associated technology under the first stage of the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative. Now, hundreds more will be installed in schools across Israel’s relatively under-resourced northern and southern regions.

Among the Jewish and non-Jewish communities selected to receive the smart classrooms in the Galilee are Kiryat Shmona, Tuba, Hazor HaGlilit, Nahariya, Ma’alot Tarshicha, Marom Galil, Ma’ar, Peki’in, Ma’ale Yosef, Shlomi, Akko, Abu Sna’an, Lower Galilee, Kfar Yassif, Karmiel , Sakhnin, Tiberias, Megiddo and Yokneam.

For the first time in these schools, teachers will have both the means and the training to integrate animation, sound, video, live web content and text into their lessons and to do so interactively. Students can participate by using laptops and interactive voting kits.

World ORT’s program involves the active participation of at least two-thirds of the schools’ teachers in the training courses for interactive teaching. The courses deliver 120 hours of training for every teacher over a two-year period, beginning prior to the technology’s installation so that educators can hit the ground running.

“The acceptance of World ORT’s vision for Israeli schools and the development of the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative into such a major force for change had been a fantastic achievement”, said World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer.

He continued, “World ORT believes in technological progress as a tool to improve daily life and the learning of skills. The establishment of interactive classes opens a wide range of educational options for both teachers and students enabling them to grow in a virtually connected world. This is an exemplary partnership between two government ministries. Add to that the commitment of local authorities, the generosity of Diaspora donors, particularly Seymour Schulich and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and the know-how of World ORT’s pedagogical teams and you have a project which raises education in the periphery to a completely new level.”