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B’nai B’rth Demonstrates Long-distance Teaching of Hebrew Classes

The ability of a Hebrew teacher, physically present in a classroom, to instruct simultaneously other classrooms anywhere in the nation, was demonstrated today by the B’nai B’rith Commission on Adult Jewish Education.

An instructor in Chicago and four “pupils” in a Waldorf-Astoria salon where the commission was holding its annual meeting, simulated a B’nai B’rith experimental teaching course that is now in progress under a $7, 500 grant from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Dr. David Weinstein, president of the Chicago College of Jewish Studies, lecturing from a classroom in the school, gave 20 minutes of instruction in elementary Hebrew to the sample class in New York, using modern electronics to bridge, easily and comfortably, the 900 miles separating them.

Instructor and students spoke with each other through “Tele-Lecture,” an intercity system of communications that, for teaching purposes, all but put them in the same room. Dr. Weinstein used an “electronic blackboard,” jotting Hebrew words and letters on a translucent scroll that were instantaneously projected on a screen in the make-shift classroom in New York, to illustrate his teaching points.

These are the pioneering techniques B’nai B’rith is using for its ten-week experiment of Hebrew instruction to three widely-separated classrooms– one of 60 adult students who meet in the Chicago school with Dr. Weinstein present, and two others in Grand Rapids and East Lansing, Mich., each of 40 students. The three-unit class meets each Thursday evening.

Members of the B’nai B’rith commission, in a discussion of the project, regarded approvingly its potential for providing expert instruction in organized adult Jewish study, particularly in small communities where teachers are not easily available. B’nai B’rith has already linked as many as 14 cities for long-distance lectures and discusssions.

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare awarded B’nai B’rith the grant because of its interest in determining the effectiveness of long-distance teaching in mathematics, languages and other subjects in which written instruction is essential.

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