'Revolutionary' civics Web site launched

"When I became minister I set for myself the goal of strengthening and cultivating civics education," Education Minister Yuli Tamir explains.

civics site 224.88 (photo credit: Screenshot)
civics site 224.88
(photo credit: Screenshot)
The Education Ministry launched a revolutionary civics Web site this week to aid teachers and pupils, with features like a free digital civics textbook, updates with examples from everyday life, and video clips featuring former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak teaching about democracy. The easily navigable site (http://www.civics.org.il) was a joint project of the ministry, the Center for Educational Technology (CET) and the Citizen's Empowerment Center (CECI). "When I became minister I set for myself the goal of strengthening and cultivating civics education," Education Minister Yuli Tamir explained. "Launching the Web site is another central stage in instilling civics education among teachers and pupils in Israel. The site will support teaching and learning processes, which will be done in a dynamic and interactive way that will make them interesting, challenging, and thought provoking." The site also has separate sections for students, teachers and video. In the video section, Barak explains concepts in democratic theory. There are also two short films about the children of foreign workers and how they fear being deported, a film about Nelson Mandela and many others. In the section for pupils, there is an actualiya section with civics questions about current events. On Tuesday, there was a question about which rights conflicted in the attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor, as well as questions about a new German device which enables self euthanasia. There are also links to Ynet articles meant to be hints to help answer the questions. A source in the Education Ministry explained how the site enabled teachers to prepare better lessons and pupils to undertake assignments at home. "The site allows for individual learning in a technologically sophisticated framework. Teachers can assign homework through the site as well," he told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. For teachers, "the forum is very important to enable the exchange of ideas. There are also pedagogic tools, and not just articles. There is access to experts through the site as well," he said. The project is part of an overall policy by the ministry to incorporate modern technology into the classroom with the help of CET, the source said. In the near future, civics education will be moving from one point to two points in the matriculation exam framework, which represents a major shift, he said. The new curriculum will require a practical project, "and the site will be very useful to pupils in preparing it." There are also questions from previous civics exams available for pupil perusal. The site is intended for use by middle school and high school pupils, teachers, teaching instructors, civics educators, and the public, the ministry said at a press conference on Monday afternoon. "This is a groundbreaking project - the digital textbook is precedent-setting in civics education specifically and in the education system in Israel in general. It is free for all to use, as is the site and the database embedded in the site, which are the cornerstones of CET's philosophy," Gila Ben Har, the director-general of CET, said in a statement. Dora Kadisha of CECI noted that this was one of the projects her organization developed to encourage the flowering of a new generation in the 21 century "with values and a desire to strive for excellence."