HOT TOPIC: Should traditional Jewish learning be augmented by technology?

Alison Westermann


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

Hundreds of years ago, Jews passed down the wisdom of their ancestors in the same way they received it – rote memorization that had them repeating phrases chanted by their teachers.  Did they internalize the lessons any better “back then” than our students (who learn in typically more progressive settings) do today?  What can we learn from the methods (i.e., chevruta – partner study) that have been handed down to us through the ages?  What strengths and what weaknesses do those models possess, and how can they be augmented by the newest technologies that exist in the secular educational world?

Furthermore, how do (and how should) Jewish educators go about incorporating technology into Jewish educational settings without diverting the focus from the content?  Our world presents all sorts of new media, but they are simply new ways to interact with the same information that we’ve passed on for thousands of years!  To what extent should we be concerned with “keeping up with” new technology and incorporating it into our Jewish educational settings, and how do we know when to draw the line and say, “Enough is enough!”

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