From high school classroom to virtual university
High school students in Dimona will take online courses at Tel Aviv University as part of the "Academic City" program
The city of Dimona and Tel Aviv University are launching a new and unique program for academic cooperation. The program, which connects high schools in Dimona directly with TAU, will allow students to take a regular class at their school and then do both a regular exam at their high school and an exam at Tel Aviv University. The latter will give students academic credit, the kind awarded for any university class, and will count towards their degree, whether they choose to study at TAU or a different university.
Mr. Yuval Shraibman, founder and director of the Innovative Learning Center at TAU, stressed that the cooperation is a wonderful example of leveraging the new tools of the digital age, which allow for the removal of barriers and creation of new opportunities that are accessible to everyone.
Another role for the teaching staff
The city of Dimona’s high school teachers will now have another vital role to play as part of the "Academic City" program. They will be the ones who actually teach the academic courses to high school students, and their traditional role will go from "teaching knowledge" to "developing learning skills”, helping students develop tools and skills for success. Teachers who take part in the innovative program will be able to choose which online course they want to teach their students, from a range of courses approved by the Ministry of Education. Every high school student will be able to take his or her first steps in the world of academia, acquire advanced learning skills, develop a sense of academic competence, all without leaving the city or even his or her regular classroom.
In addition, it was also agreed that as part of the cooperation between TAU and the municipality of Dimona, every school in the city will have a new “academic classroom” where the classes will be held, and it will be designed and equipped according to the 21st century “learning spaces” and in a way that suits the new teaching model.
Continuing to narrow gaps
Prof. Yaron Oz, the rector of Tel Aviv University, emphasized that the program in Dimona is an example of a combined effort on the university’s part to identify talent not only through common tools like matriculation exams and the psychometric test, but also by nurturing talent individually, not just through teaching knowledge.
Prof. Joseph Klepter, president of Tel Aviv University, noted that the "Academic City" program will help narrow gaps between the center and the periphery of Israel, and develop a sense of academic competence among students who are geographically distant from the leading academic institutions. "The program is another aspect of the groundbreaking process TAU has initiated, in addition to opening a new admission track for applicants, based on success in online courses, without the need for a psychometric test."
The Mayor of Dimona, Mr. Benny Biton, thanked the president of Tel Aviv University for his welcome initiative and his willingness to turn Dimona into the first academic city in Israel. "This is a fundamental change in the educational landscape. This means that any student who wishes to do so will be able to study at a university level," said Mr. Biton. “This project has taken the city of Dimona forward in giant leaps.” Mr. Biton expressed the hope that the cooperation between Dimona and Tel Aviv University would expand into other educational subjects as well.