As a newly minted “Technology Integration Educator” in my community, I’m struggling with the definition of my job title. What does the phrase “technology integration” really mean? How do we integrate technology? I can’t help but wonder if, when the overhead projector, or the radio, or even the blackboard for that matter, were introduced into the world of education, taskforces and positions were created to explore how to “integrate” these new technologies. I think not.
What may be unique about our time is that there are so many new learning curves for us to scale that many folks don’t know where to begin. We’re afraid, or are overwhelmed. Or both. To prevent the onset of this future shock, we create the idea of “integration”, of gradually weaning ourselves from the old so that we can embrace the new. Unfortunately, we may run the risk of prolonging this process: We might get so caught up in how we adapt and adopt innovations that we forget that we need to actually “do it”, and use the new technology. So how do we overcome this “fear of flying”? What do we really mean by “integration”?
Maybe by understanding the process of learning new skills, we can prepare ourselves better as we take the next steps. Thinking about how we learn helps us to understand that it doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. There’s a process, a pattern. Wendy Passer, in a piece posted here, describes the “Four Levels of Competence” – Unconscious, then Conscious Incompetence; followed by Unconscious Competence, then Conscious Competence. The idea, on one foot, is that we start out not knowing what we’re doing, and then go through a learning spectrum of being aware of, and at times overwhelmed by, our knowledge deficits. We might freeze, becoming ostriches with our heads in the sand. We then gradually gird our loins and learn the skill, thinking about how and what we are learning, and ultimately master the task so well that we stop thinking about what it is that we are doing, as it becomes second nature. For you visual folks, here is a graphic of the process I found at MindTools.com.
When we climb this ladder we create something new. What we learn becomes part of who we are and what we do. We are transforming the world and, therefore ourselves. We are integrating these new skills into the way we act, in AND on, the world.
So when we talk about “technology integration” we mean that we are integrating these new skills and approaching the art of teaching from a different direction. This type of integration is not merely incorporating new tech into pedagogy. It's something far more profound: it’s the act of weaving connections between the educational practitioner and sources of new skills that can transform how the educator interacts with material and the learner.
In the context of the literacies of the digital world (read Howard Rheingold’s Netsmart to learn more) a crucial component is collaboration. No longer is learning something that is performed by an isolated individual building a one-on-one relationship with content and the instructor. Today content is collective. Knowledge is built through collaboration with a crowd. No longer is there just one teacher -- there are many. By necessity, then, teaching is not just transmitting information, and thus educational uses of technology are not simply about transmission of information. Teaching is weaving strands between content and learners, all in the context of connected educational communities.
And that’s the point. Technology integration is taking new, ever-changing technology and seamlessly incorporating it strategically to aid in the construction of knowledge. The teacher becomes the learner; the learner becomes the teacher, and tools of the trade facilitate this process.
So getting back to our pedagogical fear factor. Learning new tech isn’t really hard. It’s just that we are so inundated with updates and new products that we get intimidated. We suffer from what I call “Technology Fatigue”. Too many emails. Too many tweets. Too many Facebook updates. And too many new widgets and gadgets. All of these “distractions” get in the way of our advancing the art of teaching and learning; preventing us from seeing the big picture. We need to get a handle on it, taking one step at a time. We build on what we already know. That’s the key - that’s how we help ourselves incorporate what we have experienced and will soon encounter in our craft. Rather than concentrating on the tool, let’s focus on what we want our students to learn and how we can help make that happen. That way we see the whole process in a less off-putting light. We’ll stop being afraid.
Integration then, means that the teacher is able to focus on the true goal of education: Not the subject matter and not the means. Technology is a tool that helps us to focus on what’s really important: on learning and the student.
In The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall, I found a great piece of text that says it all: "…we do not focus on the hammer or the nails, but on what we can build with the hammer and the value of what will transpire inside the space once we've created it". Technology integration means leveraging our knowledge of how we learn and develop our competence, applying it to how we train one another to achieve the real goal: Creating environments enabling our students to expand the frontiers of their competence.
Let’s Just Do It.
Peter Eckstein is the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth David (Conservative) in Palm Beach Gardens and is the Technology Integration Educator for the Friedman Commission for Jewish Education. As a volunteer, he currently sits on the Conservative movement’s Jewish Educators Assembly (JEA) national board and on the the Reform movement’s National Association of Temple Educators (NATE) Professional Development Committee. Peter has been participating in this summer's Social Media Successes for Jewish Educators webinar series produced by Darim Online. He tweets as @redmenace56 and blogs as The Fifth Child at http://jcastnetwork.org/5thchild
Thank you to Rabbi Hayim Herring for sharing his expertise with us on a webinar last week and on our online book group throughout the month of June, as we discuss his book, Tomorrow's Synagogue Today.
Over 50 people registered for our webinar to learn from Hayim and discuss the concepts he shared and their application to their congregational settings. We discussed the very tachlis details of who leads change and how, and big (and sometimes purposefully theoretical) questions like "will synagogues as we know them continue to exist in the next few decades"?
You can find the recording of the webinar and related resources shared during the webinar here.
Our online book group -- held in a Facebook Group -- continues, and we welcome you to join us! Current conversations have been around testing and piloting new ideas, what has changed in synagogue life in the last 10 years, and how do we retain a sense of sacred community while still being respectful of the desire for individualism and self-directedness? Come on over to the book group to respond, and/or to pose your own questions too!
I just received this press release from Congregation Beth Elohim. It filled me with such warmth and pride for this community's leadership that I just had to share. Congregation Beth Elohim recently won $250,000 in a social media driven online voting competition to help restore their historic building.
Upon Winning a Quarter Million Dollars in Online Competition, Brooklyn Synagogue makes $15k donation to neighboring Church
Partnership between synagogue and church lead to unprecedented gift; Two communities facing the burden of repairing collapsed ceilings find meaning in supporting each other; Community members respond with emotion and joy.
Brooklyn, NY – May 22, 2012 ---
On the heels of winning one of only four Amex Partners in Preservation grants of $250,000 in New York City, Senior Rabbi Andy Bachman of Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim announced today that Trustees of the Congregation have pledged $15,000 to Old First Reformed Church, their beloved neighbors and partners in building friendship and community in Park Slope.
The CBE gift to Old First is in recognition of its generous and continuing support for Congregation Beth Elohim over the years. Among many other gestures, Old First made its worship space available for several High Holiday services when CBEs Sanctuary ceiling collapsed. Old First also actively supported CBEs successful campaign to win the Amex Partners in Preservation grant. In an ironic twist, Old Firsts own ceiling collapsed earlier this year. Accordingly, CBEs gift to Old First will support their efforts to complete the necessary architectural studies for the preservation work its sanctuary demands.
In his announcement of this gift, Rabbi Bachman noted, “Each of our historic and sacred communities inhabit buildings made for a different era of religious life; and yet each of our communities understand the historical mandate to renew our relationships with our God and our community in every generation. As Simon the Righteous taught us in the Talmud, the world stands on three things: on Learning, on Worship, and on acts of Loving Kindness. May Congregation Beth Elohim and Old First Church thrive in these values and continue to bring goodness, kindness and peace to our world.”
Upon hearing the news, Reverend Dr. Daniel Meeter of Old First remarked that he was shocked, “Who does this kind of thing? So this is what love looks like, this hospitality, this generosity, this joining our lives together for better for worse."
How can we each be generous in our own ways today?
This is cross-posted from Miriam Brosseau's "Clips and Phrases" Tumbler.
Here’s the current state of a conversation about social media and Jewish values happening on my Facebook profile. What would you add?
Ok, everybody - favorite Jewish values and/or texts that could potentially relate to social media. And…go!
(Whaddya think, Anita Salzman Silvert, David Paskin, Rabbi Jason Miller, Elizabeth Wood, Carrie Bornstein, Arnie Samlan? Others?)
Elizabeth Wood Al Tifrosh min hatzibur - Do not separate yourself from the community (i.e. figure out always how to keep yourself connected!)
Irene Lehrer Sandalow Al Tifrosh Min Hatsibur. Social Media makes sure stay you connected to your community.
Miriam Brosseau Whoah, Elizabeth and Irene, you are totally on the same wavelength… and it’s a great call, thanks!
Isaac Shalev Emor me’at ve’aseh harbeh - say little and do lots - should be Twitter’s mission statement
Sara Shapiro-Plevan I’d say that “im ein ani li, mi li” and the rest of that mishna speaks beautifully to the fact that we are nodes in a larger network and not just in relationship with ourselves. Also, Pirke Avot ch. 6 talks about drawing close to colleagues and students, not separating one’s self from community, knowing and contributing to the knowledge of others, and sharpening others’ knowledge as well.
Carrie Bornstein Sara - you JUST beat me to it!
Carrie Bornstein If I am not for myself, who will be for me? (Have a voice in the online world - make your presence known.) If I am only for myself, what am I? (Engage your community - advocate on behalf of others) If not now, when? (Just do it – act in the moment.)
Anita Salzman Silvert I would add the whole Lashon Ha-rah issue. Just using some of the text in a little presentation on the jewish values found in “The Music Man” …think pick a little talk a little…!
Carrie Bornstein Eizeh hu chacham? HaLomed miKol Adam. Who is wise? The one who learns from all others.
Naomi Malka Da Lifnei Mi Ata Omed—be mindful of your values wherever you go and whatever you say in cyberspace.
Yehudit Batya Shrager The essence of tsniut is being independent of the good opinion of other people. (For the DL on tsniut read “Outside/Inside” by Gila Manolson.) In other words, know what to share and what to keep to yourself and do not define yourself based on how many “friends/followers” you have or how many people “like,” your status updates.
Phil Liff-Grieff malbin panav- it is important to remember that one’s words have serious ripples (sort of a riff on the lashon ha-ra thread….)
Arnie Samlan What about the whole concept of a minyan? That there is a tipping point at which enough human-social energy gathers.
Lisa Narodick Colton Wow, this is great. I’ll add tzimtzum — needing to contract oneself to make room for others to create. good for community guidelines — don’t be a conversation hog.
Larry Brown Excellent topic, Miriam! I believe Pirkei Avot says to find a Rabbi/Teacher and sit at his feet and study. The whole concept of the Oral Torah is that one cannot truly understand Torah simply by reading text, one must learn from others. That is why our ancestors were so reluctant to write it down. Interactive social media can be seen as another way of learning from others.
Paul Wieder Pirsumei Nisah— from Chanukah. Want everyone to know about a miracle? Put it in the window!
“Who is wise? The one who learns from all”- Pirkei Avot
Arba Kanfot— the idea that, while Jews are spread to the “four corners” of the world, we are united.
“A father who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.”— We are required to teach as well as learn, to pass on our knowledge.
Carrie Bornstein In case you haven’t seen it, this thread keeps reminding me of this: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node%2F90054
Stanley Mieses Kol Yisroel and Derech Eretz. There is no them….only us.
Geoffrey Mitelman I’d add that in our ever-more-interconnected world, g’milut chasadim and tikkun olam are becoming more and more synonymous.
Guest post from Rabbi Aaron Spiegel. This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving.
Synagogue 3000 just released a report entitled “Reform and Conservative Congregations: Different Strengths, Different Challenges.” The report could just as easily been entitled something like “Synagogues are Fading Into Obscurity,” but that would be a little too provocative. The data is clear; the institution best positioned to provide the full richness of Jewish life is becoming irrelevant for most American Jews. More disturbing is that our research shows some 70% of young Jewish adults, those between the ages of 23 and 39, have no connection to the established Jewish community (synagogues, Federation, JCC’s, etc.). While many in the Jewish world talk about Jewish continuity and protecting the future of American Judaism, most of the proposed solutions have had little effect. The good news is we’ve also learned that this majority of young Jews are very interested in Judaism, just not the way we’re offering it.
While most in the congregational world talk about outreach, Synagogue 3000 learned that this moniker has a negative connotation. Outreach says, albeit subtly, “I’m reaching out to you so you can come to me and have what I want to offer you.” The community, particularly those young, single Jews who are our potential future are saying, “no thanks.” Instead of outreach Synagogue 3000 changed the conversation to engagement. Learning from the church world and community organizing, Synagogue 3000 created Next Dor (dor is Hebrew for generation) – an engagement program. Participating synagogues agree to dedicate a staffer, most often a rabbi, whose primary job is to meet young Jews where they are – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. These engagement workers are charged with finding young Jews, be they in bars, coffee houses, local gyms, etc., and finding ways of engaging them in conversation to create relationships. Relationships create trust, which creates other relationships, which creates opportunity for real engaging conversations about life and what Judaism has to offer. One of the key points is that this engagement and these relationships are l’shma, for their own sake. Synagogue membership is not the goal – connecting Jews to Judaism is.
While the goal is engaging young Jews in Judaism, several of the Next Dor partner synagogues are discovering tangible benefits. Next Dor D.C., a project of Temple Micah was one of the first adopters. Rabbi Danny Zemel, a proponent of this engagement model before Next Dor existed, knew that Temple Micah needed to engage this unaffiliated and disaffected population. As a Next Dor pilot synagogue, Temple Micah hired Rabbi Esther Lederman as their engagement worker. A big part of Esther’s job is having one-on-one meetings with young Jews, usually in coffee shops. Now in its fourth year, Next Dor D.C. has gone from one-on-one meetings to regular Shabbat dinners at Esther’s home to annual free High Holy Day services for young adults, led by Esther and Michelle Citrin. The results – young Jewish adults are joining Temple Micah.
Some have dubbed this approach “relational Judaism” which seems something of an oxymoron. Judaism is at its essence (at least in my opinion) all about relationships. Unfortunately, congregations have focused on other things like supporting infrastructure, b’nai mitzvah training, and programming. More than the first two, the focus on programming is the irrelevance linchpin. Rather than engaging Jews in what’s important in their lives, synagogues program based on anecdotal information. When numbers fall the default synagogue response is to seek better programming rather than forming relationships with members, finding out what’s really important in their lives, and being responsive to their needs. Interestingly enough, while Synagogue 3000 envisioned the relational approach targeting young Jewish adults, the Next Dor communities are discovering it works with everyone.
Is your synagogue willing to form relationships with people who might not become members? Is your rabbi really willing to “be known” by synagogue members? What are your biggest obstacles to moving from a program-based community to relationship-based? Relationships, it’s all about the relationships!
Rabbi Aaron Spiegel is the CEO of Synagogue 3000. The report was the result of Synagogue 3000’s participation in FACT (Faith Communities Today), the largest and most comprehensive surveyor of faith communities in the United States.
This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving that Darim Online is curating to advance the communal conversation about relationship focused Jewish communities. Thanks to UJA Federation of New York for supporting our research and this blog series. Click here to see other related posts in the series.
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