10 'smart' classrooms for capital

Hi-tech promotes student-teacher interaction.

As part of Jerusalem Education Week - being held next week at schools and other venues throughout the capital - the Jerusalem Municipality has unveiled plans for the opening of 10 new "smart classrooms" in schools around the city. The week is centered around Jerusalem Day, which will be marked on May 21, a day earlier than the Hebrew anniversary of 28 Iyar, which falls on Friday this year. With the participation of Hakol Hinuch, an organization that promotes education, the municipality will host various events focusing on education in Jerusalem and throughout the country, the smart classrooms being but one initiative. Smart classrooms are equipped with cutting-edge computer technology, that enhances pupils' ability to interact with their teachers. The teacher's workstation will include a hand-held computer and projector, on-line classes based on the pedagogical network of the Education Ministry and enable the use of the "interactive whiteboard," an electronic replacement for the chalkboard that uses the Internet and other hi-tech advances for lessons and interaction between the teacher and pupils. The whiteboard also allows the teacher a wide variety of options for teaching challenging subjects. Connecting to the whiteboard with a handheld computer allows for screening of all the relevant material for a lesson on the board itself. The software supplied with the interactive whiteboard allows the teacher to keep notes and annotations as an electronic file for later distribution, either on paper or through a number of electronic formats. Additionally, some interactive whiteboards allow teachers to record their instructions as digital video files and post the material for review by students at a later time. This would help students who are absent from school, struggling learners, and all students as they review for examinations. Studies that have been conducted in smart classrooms around the world have shown that pupil achievements significantly improve with the technological advances, and that the connection between pupil and teacher is enhanced. Teachers who already teach in smart classrooms have reported a rise in pupil motivation, better test scores, improved participation and more investment of time by pupils in their work. The wide array of material on hand in smart classrooms also allows the teacher to tailor the program for each pupil according to their abilities and needs. "The correct implementation of smart classrooms in educational institutions is the key to receiving the results we expect from the teachers," said Naomi Shai, manager of the technology division of the Jerusalem Education Administration (Manchi). "With this implementation, school principals in Jerusalem will also be able to develop personalized, detailed methods of teaching for their employees," she said. "As part of their training, the teachers will learn how to prepare interactive lessons and to utilize technological resources to improve their teaching methods. "The vision of Mayor Nir Barkat to see more smart rooms in his city's schools is welcomed by us," Shai continued. "We hope that as part of this technological advancement, teachers will be able to provide their pupils with a learning experience that improves their overall achievements in the classroom." A smart classroom model, complete with an interactive whiteboard, will be on display at the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha'uma) throughout Education Week, and teachers and pupils will demonstrate how such classes are conducted.