Israel develops online platform to teach high school students about the Holocaust
Educators focus on technology and interactivity as Yad Vashem opens new Holocaust remembrance education center at IDF training campus
Israel is about to launch a new online platform to teach the history of the Holocaust to high school students.
The Ministry of Education, with the help of the Center for Educational Technology, has developed an innovative new curriculum that will be implemented at the start of the next school year for secondary school students in grades 10 and 11.
Amos Raban, professor of digital history at the Ministry of Education, helped develop the program, which combines digital pedagogy, independent learning and alternative forms of assessment.
“Developing skills is more important than having more knowledge; it’s more skill-based than content-based,” Raban told The Media Line. “We have a flipped classroom approach because it’s essentially the alternative to front-end teaching.”
Raban, who also teaches digital pedagogy at Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts in Tel Aviv, said he is currently training teachers to use the Diamond 3.0 Hybrid History platform.
Rather than relying on textbooks to learn about the Holocaust, the materials are all available online, along with images, videos, infographics, and assignments.
“Everything is digital, we even have a YouTube channel that offers instructional videos for different skills,” Raban explained. “If you want to know how to decipher a primary source [in history]we have a video that explains how to read it.
The Ministry of Education encourages students not only to be passive consumers of educational content, but also to actively produce it. For example, students will be encouraged to create videos and upload them online, not just read or write about what they have learned.
Additionally, teachers will include digital media such as videos and podcasts in tests and assignments. Exams will be open-book rather than focusing on memorization.
“I talk to educators in the United States and it’s very rare — including a lot of digital media in exams and assignments,” Raban said.
The ministry also collaborated with the Ghetto Fighters House, a museum in northern Israel that commemorates Jewish heroes of the Holocaust. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry filmed the entire museum in a 360 degree video to create a virtual tour.
“In one of our units, we included a self-guided tour of the museum,” he said. “Students can simply ‘walk around’ the museum; there is no noise and no school buses.
Besides the House of Ghetto Fighters, the online platform also includes content for a new museum set to open in Latrun and will be dedicated to Jewish soldiers who fought the Nazis during World War II. Educators have also collaborated with Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, as well as Holocaust museums in Europe and the United States.
“If you don’t understand how culture evolves, you’re going to lose the ability to pass on the memory to new generations,” Raban said of the new program. “We want them to read books, but the culture is changing. Let’s use smartphones to read, but not only to read but also to create. Change is when you use the new culture to retain the memory that is important to you.
Yad Vashem has also taken a more interactive approach to teaching about the Holocaust.
Ahead of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins at sundown Wednesday, Yad Vashem on Monday opened a new educational center called “Before My Very Eyes” at the Israel Defense Forces Ariel Sharon training campus. in the Negev.
The center offers interactive exhibition spaces specially designed to spark discussion and encourage thought. Yad Vashem, located in Jerusalem, regularly hosts groups of IDF soldiers for tours and other educational activities.
The Negev Education Center offers a very different experience from a regular museum visit, according to Yad Vashem spokesperson Simmy Allen.
“The program in the south can be conducive to inspiring the group to dialogue, unlike here [at Yad Vashem]where we bring the chronological order of the Holocaust and how the Jewish experience was during World War II,” he said.
The exhibits presented present different types of traditional environments during the war, such as a synagogue or a Jewish house. There are also places where visitors can sit and chat.
“It’s very interactive. You have these subject-built classrooms and there are educators who can work with you — all within the military base,” said Richelle Budd Caplan, director of international relations and projects at the International School of Yad Vashem Holocaust Studies, at The Media Line.
The younger generation continues to show an interest in learning more about the history of the Holocaust, she said, but the way they do so has changed in recent years.
“Young people are interested in searching for themselves on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok,” Budd Caplan said. “Some of them are inappropriate and some of them are very appropriate. If you look at the Yad Vashem website, you will see that there are films, including animated films – where you didn’t have that 10 years ago. All emphasis is on personal stories and accuracy.