JBlend Miami: A DJLN National-Local Community Partnership to Watch

| By Gary Hartstein, Director, DigitalJLearning Network

The DigitalJLearning Network of The Jewish Education Project, along with our partners at CAJE-Miami, is proud to announce the launch of Phase Two of an exciting partnership to support Jewish day schools in the Miami area. JBlend Miami has been in the works for the last two to three years. Originally dubbed “Blended and Online Learning Academy” – and later renamed by the teachers in the group – JBlend Miami is a community of educators from five Miami area Jewish day schools, coming together to learn about online and blended learning, and building capacity for change in their own schools.

Phase One of this multi-year program took place during the 2014-15 school year, and was focused on gathering information, assessing schools’ readiness, and preparing for the community work this fall. DJLN visited Miami twice during the last school year, meeting with teachers, administrators, and students from several Miami day schools. Working closely with our partners at CAJE, and local school leaders, the initial five schools were selected; educators from each school were chosen to participate.

The two-day launch took place September 2nd and 3rd, and was held at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. During our opening sessions, we worked together to learn about blended learning, and what separates it from basic technology integration. We looked at mastery learning, and how it differs from traditional time-based learning models. We also explored personalization of learning, one of the ultimate goals of a well-implemented blended learning program. Upcoming session topics will include choosing the best resources, strategically planning for a blended learning implementation, and managing and supporting blended learning in schools. Monthly face-to-face sessions are scheduled throughout the 2015-16 school year, along with online components. One of the highly anticipated highlights will be a two-day site visit tour in the spring to New York area Jewish day schools.

Part of what makes this partnership so exciting for us at DJLN is that the team from CAJE has an outstanding professional development system already in place to support the local schools. In many ways, this created conditions for a “perfect storm,” bringing CAJE’s PD expertise together with our experience supporting online and blended learning. We’re excited to welcome this group of Miami teachers and administrators into our national network of Jewish day school educators working with online and blended learning. We look forward to supporting this community of learners as it grows, and brings meaningful, sustainable change back to the schools.