TAU Inaugurates Online Education Program in Ein Gedi
TAU launched a new online education program with the Tamar Regional Council last month that will enable local high school pupils to enroll in digital TAU courses remotely as a step toward university preparedness. At the end of the semester, they will be allowed to attend final exams for the courses on the TAU campus and earn university credits.
This project is the second "Academic City" inaugurated by TAU Online – Innovative Learning Center, following the launch of a pilot framework in the southern Israeli city of Dimona earlier this year.
In both cities, local teachers will be trained in state-of-the-art pedagogical methods used by TAU Online. They will also learn how to lead courses and moderate group learning in the framework of online education.
The ultimate goal of the Academic City program is to make higher education accessible to more young people in Israel's periphery.
“Now, all of Israel can be next to TAU – that's the idea of the Academic City," said TAU President Joseph Klafter at the inauguration ceremony at Ein Gedi’s high school. He called the partnership with the Tamar Regional Council “natural,” thanks to the strong ties already developed with the opening of TAU’s Porter Dead Sea Research Institute for Life under Extreme Conditions at Masada in 2016.
“What's unique about this program is that you're making the future accessible to our students in the present,“ said Tamar Regional Council Head Dov Litvinoff.
Ein Gedi high school principal Ben Ereli, who has enthusiastically embraced the project, added that this was an “amazing opportunity to build a different academic world together…[beyond] the Dead Sea, to really create a different educational model.”
In addition to promoting academic learning among high school students, the TAU Online program aims to redress a fundamental disparity in Israel’s standardized university entrance tests (SATs). These tend to favor well-off students from the center of the country who generally can afford costly preparatory courses that boost results, while their counterparts in Israel’s less privileged areas cannot. Under a pioneering TAU admissions system, high grades in TAU Online courses can now replace SATs altogether.
Yuval Shraibman, director of TAU online, called the program a game-changer because it makes university-level courses part of the regular school curriculum for students throughout Israel.