The escalation in rocket and missile attacks at southern Israel over the weekend caused the education system in the region to shut down, leaving school principals scrambling and looking for ways to keep the students up to speed with the curriculum.
One solution that was found involves online studying. Such a model has been adopted by the Naot Lin school in Be’er Sheva, headed by Ilona Sakaju.
Sakaju told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that her school was aware of the possibility that an escalation in terror attacks could prevent the students from physically coming to the classrooms, and prepared itself in advance for an online learning environment. She explained that the school’s students attend classes through internet message boards, where they can respond to questions and receive guidance from their teachers.
In order to implement the online learning system, Sakaju explained, each teacher prepares a lesson plan ahead of time and posts it on the forums. She added that even in ‘normal’ times, the school runs the message boards on a regular basis, with each classroom having an interactive board and a computer. As such, students can continue their studies after school hours by holding discussions on the message boards, integrating their parents into the lesson etc.
She explained that every week, the school’s staff posts assignments on the internet forums for the students to complete. The students complete the assignments and share their answers with their peers through the forum.
Sakaju said that even schools that are not as computerized as hers can hold classes even during times of emergency, through telephone contact between students and teachers, as well as by photocopying sheets and having parents distribute them among the students. She noted, however, that due to the harsh reality in which southern Israel’s residents must live, most shools today are well-equipped for computerized learning.
Sakaju noted that students tell each other, using Facebook and other methods, once a new lesson has been posted on the forum. The rest of the students receive a phone call notifying them that an online class is taking place.
She dismissed the idea that the new computerized schools will bring with them a new era in which there will no longer be a need for physical school buildings.
“We cannot give up on a teacher giving personal attention and direction to students, face-to-face,” Sakaju said. “There’s nothing that can ever be a substitute for an intimate private conversation to explain the learning material.”
She further noted that now that all the knowledge and information is available on the internet, having a student in a classroom with a teacher is all the more important, since the student must be taught how to learn using all the information available to him. This, Sakaju said, can only be provided to a student by a teacher in a classroom setting.