created at: 2011-05-20Everyone’s talking about innovation and entrepreneurship these days in Jewish Education. 

We find ourselves in an age when traditional institutions are being challenged by a generation of Young Turks, ready to throw out the status quo and rethink the landscape of how we teach and engage our children.  Jewish Education a la 1950, or 1990, or even 2005, is no longer adequate- a new generation of digital natives and iPhone users needs something that looks and feels different.

Prozdor has not been spared by this evolution.  We celebrate the anecdotes and pictures of the old Hebrew College building on Hawes Street and the teachers from the Old Country as cherished memories.  We remember the four-day-a-week intensive Hebrew program and the natural progression from Prozdor studies to studies at Hebrew Teacher’s College.  We also remember the Prozdor of the 1990s, stuck in between two worlds- a world of Jewish Education of our parents’ generation and one that was crying out for change…

… but all of this is now a memory.

Prozdor now stands at a crossroads.  While it would be easy to keep the model which has been used for almost a decade, rooted in electives, Hebrew language, and required core classes, we enter 2011 with a mandate for change yet again.  Prozdor as a school that would maintain the status quo is not sufficient- and change is coming, if it’s not already here.  Our complete overhaul of Hebrew language instruction and our Makor program for 6th and 7th grades are two prime examples of new thinking, but ones which are still rooted in a brick-and-mortar educational milieu.  We need to be identifying new markets and thinking strategically about how to reach a broader audience than the teens who come to us from our partner synagogues and programs.

All of this provides the context for the official launch of Prozdor @ Home this fall.

Online learning is a tool that has been under-utilized in Jewish supplementary education… if it’s been utilized at all.  Jewish Education, which usually lags behind best practices in general education, was slow to integrate technology and teaching and slow to jump on the bandwagon of distance learning.  Now, with the steady expansion on online resources for teachers and college and graduate programs for Jewish professionals, the time has come for a new market to embrace this new portal for engagement and learning- teens.

Prozdor @ Home is the logical next step.  Offering semester-long courses for academic credit (even college credit), our online classes will offer access to the same high-level instruction and teachers that are the hallmark of our regular program.  Classes in topics as diverse as Jewish business ethics, Israel, art, genealogy, and ethics are being developed on the highly-interactive Schoology platform and will be offered to teens around the world beginning in mid-September.  Schoology looks and feels a lot like the social media tools that our teens (and even we adults) are used to, and the interface of learning resources and user-friendly features will be a recipe for successful teen engagement.

Enrollment for Prozdor @ Home will be open beginning August 29, 2011, and courses will begin in September.  For more information, please contact David List at dlist@hebrewcollege.edu

For students in Greater Boston, enrollment is also open for Prozdor’s 2011-2 year, which begins on Sunday, September 18.  Please contact the Prozdor office at 617-559-8800 for more information on registration.

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