Cell Aviv - Tel Aviv in cellular mobile technologies for lifewide learning, Israel: Finalist of Innovative Teaching and Learning Award 2022
Community Learning and Living History
Anyone who has ever organised a school trip will know that transporting young people from outside the confines and systems of school into the real world is challenging - even for half a day's picnic in the park or museum visit. So, the networking, collaboration, logistics, bureaucracy and goodwill needed for the ‘Cell Aviv’ project was really pushing the limits. A group of teachers and developers, led by Refaella, embodies a collaborative approach. She explains that the aim of the project is to “break the walls of the classroom and to meet the community in open spaces. To learn history from the people who made history, And above all, to challenge the students' natural imagination and curiosity, because who among us would not want a pair of "’wonder glasses’, that would allow him to look at the peeling walls of an old building and experience for a brief moment the vibrant life that once existed there.” This is learning outside the textbook. Two schools were involved in the project, Amal High Tech Peres School Tel Aviv since 2013 (former Shevach moffet), and Onn School for students affected by cerebral palsy and complex disabilities. The students are middle and high school age but for the projects they mixed across the two schools and across the age and ability ranges. Student groups to explore different places around the city and investigate the historical, cultural, geographical and living reality of their environment.
Cell-Aviv then offers information to tourists, who choose a route from a database and enjoy a variety of historical, geographical and cultural content, directly to their cell phone. The technology side to the project is as innovative as the community collaboration. Instead of people being ‘users’ they became participants. Creators and curators, using gaming as the motivation. Shani tells us that “each student has the opportunity to create a mini site (station) that is integrated into a larger multi-layered interactive map.” The interfaces are interchangeable and change according to the user profile, so one participant doesn't necessarily see the same content. For example, they can create a route, but they could also be in a scavenger hunt or scoring during a game.
The multidisciplinary approach means the project is linked to the curriculum across many topics. As well as history, there are opportunities for work in citizenship, literature bible studies, Arts and more.
One of the best and early successes was the resources they created at the The Sharona complex which is an area in central Tel Aviv. The student teams planned and built materials for stations along the route, such as interactive posters and videos of interviews with key people who could elaborate on the history. They call it "the secret history of sarona." For example, they interviewed the granddaughter of the Jewish pharmacist Izidor Mamlok, who is a pharmacist herself, and learned the story of the only Jewish pharmacist in the German Templar colony in Sharona. The students from Onn School translated the materials into sign language and appropriate visuals to ensure they were accessible.
Another story about an old German settlement and a special operation involving Soviet military radar. The students interviewed former lieutenant colonel Nehemiah Dagan, who led the hijacking of the Soviet radar from Egypt using helicopters during a war (1969), an operation that was entirely planned at the air intelligence unit in Sharona, today known as a designer Judaica shop.... A tourist can come along, use a QR code, and experience exactly what they created.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTDoYYaozeo&ab_channel=ShevachMoffet
As well as learning about local history or about how to create a QR code, the methodology encourages studnets to develop soft skills. For example, at the start, explains Sigal, working in a hybrid group meant that some of the students from Peres school were nervous about working with children from the special school. “But they realised they were very much the same and learned about how to communicate in different ways.”
A journey for everyone
Location based learning can have a powerful effect on young people, motivating and driving them. They own the content. They found stories that were relevant for them. For example, they are now
doing a project on the periphery of Tel Aviv in Tel Cabir. There are plans to destroy Panorama Centre and build a central bus station, and the children living in this neighbourhood are protesting, and including the area as one of the stations.
The students from the special school, Anat explains, “are not used to going outside and being treated like a regular student. So when they collaborated with others they felt proud of themselves.”
The students were so motivated that, Sigal adds, “at the beginning they were doing it for studying, to get good marks. But after a year they had become so committed to the project that sometimes they would come in at break times.”
Sigal explains that she feels the project has also benefited her own development as a teacher. She finds the work exciting and different. “I'm doing a journey together with my students. We started at one point and we're not sure where we're going exactly. We know the way, but we don't know exactly the results - it's an adventure.”
World Class The project has become a model and an inspiration for the Amal-educational network, and it was the basis for a bilingual MOOC "Life Wide Learning", produced by a team of Amal teachers. Through this MOOC, every teacher in the world can learn how to implement a similar project in their school, using mobile learning. Also, it has been recognised by UNESCO as a model of best practice for mobile learning and showcased at BETT. It seems this award is well deserved, and such is the quality and scope of the project that it is now available online for every teacher in the world. Learning outside the classroom has been made into a reality.
Refaella also has a ‘technology dream’ this she's hoping Shani will help her with. She would like to actually see history as it happened, so that when someone looks at an ancient building they can actually hear the voices and see what the people who lived there were like. Shani says that there are no miracle glasses yet, but adding a layer of augmented reality is already possible..... We hope she will achieve her dream and as she tells us about the “free hand and flexibility” they have within the
School management and the city, her colleagues add that “she can open any door, both augmented and real!”
The main platform used for the project is the Wandering Ltd location-based learning environment, in addition, students use a range of collaborative software, including Padlet, Thing link (interactive pictures), Canva infographic, Emaze presentations, Movie Editors, etc
To know more: https://cell-aviv.org/