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Kamrat : The Story of a Virtual Multicultural Learning Community in Israel - part 2

A preparatory meeting of headmasters, teachers, supervisors and project directors

Though the Kamrat project is essentially about on-line co-learning, there were several meetings in person as well; a preparatory meeting in order for coordinators and headmasters to get deeply involved in the program and to get acquainted with its principles, bi-monthly meetings in the schools, each week in another school, run by Ithamar and Salah, and a final meeting for all the participating members in Ulpan Akiva.

The preparatory meeting was the first in this list of meetings in person. It was held in Ulpan Akiva in Nov.1999.

The following invitation was sent by TelHi Networks and Ulpan Akiva to the schools' supervisors, headmasters and teachers.

Re: Participating in the Kamrat on line learning community

The Kamrat project, a multicultural, bi-lingual on-line learning community is a joint venture of the TelHi Networks and Ulpan Akiva.
The project aims at creating a model for an- on going learning dialog between Jewish and Arab schools via a closed network in Hebrew and face to face meetings.
The first stage of the program will include only two participating schools: one Jewish school and one Arab school about 25 students from each school will participate in the first stage of the project in each school a teacher will be assigned to serve as program coordinator.

The first meeting will take place in Ulpan Akiva on 5/10/99

Sincerely
Prof. Edna Aphek,Telhi Networks
Ephraim Lapid Ulpan Akiva


A word about the closed network

We decided to use two different communication tools, both computer based.
The first for rudimentary gathering of information and for on- going dialog between the participants, and the second, once all the material has been collected - the internet.
The first tool, was a closed network in Hebrew, run by TelHi Networks, using the FirstClass software outdated 2.6 version.
Unfortunately there are no good intranets in Hebrew and though the SoftArc Firstclass software in Hebrew doesn't contain many much-desired features it still is, quite a good "intranet" in Hebrew.

All participants were connected to the aforementioned "intranet" from school and those who had an internet connection at home could also access the Hebrew network from home.

All the work done by the participants, including on going interactions, was recorded on the TelHi closed intranet.

Deciding upon forums

As I have already mentioned, my vision was that of getting people to know other people as human beings, having much in common.
We shunned away from any political issues, and resorted to what one could term as "community informatics" .
We, myself and Ithamar, who later on together with Salah from Ulpan Akiva, ran the project, decided on five forums on which the entire Kamrat program was to focus: symbols and costumes, objects passed from parents to children, folktales, sayings and proverbs, and feasts and quizzes about famous people in the history of the participating groups.

In both participating schools a teacher was assigned to head the project and to work with the multiage, ungraded group on finding and uploading information regarding the aforementioned five areas to the intranet. It was this intranet, where the two very much apart segments of Israeli society met almost on a daily basis.

In addition to the above forums a designated forum for the coordinators and the group leaders in each school was opened. In this forum the entire process of the creation and formation of Kamrat, was recorded, by Ithamar from the TelHi Networks, and Salah from Ulpan Akiva.

Work inside the schools

As mentioned above in each of the participating schools a group of 25 students from 7-9 was chosen to take part in the project. Participating learners were divided into groups of 5. Each group was responsible for one forum.
Members of the group worked using the tools of cooperative learning.
The students met with their teacher once a week for two hours.
Every other week they also met with Ithamar and Salah.
The meeting between the two groups, the Arab Israeli group and the Jewish Israeli group, was until May, only a virtual one, via the closed network.

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