In a recent Forward piece titled “Digital Learners Can’t Do It On Their Own,” guest writer Barry Joseph argues that digital media helps children pursue their own learning, and that they can only do so with help and guidance from adults. Joseph, who directs the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids, Inc., writes, part:

I can sympathize with the instinct to critique the time today’s youth devote to digital media, as well as the instinct to see it as separate from their education. But all this does is reinforce the gap between school subjects and students’ real lives. The opposite approach, however, is no better. We shouldn’t presume that inviting the digital into our learning environments requires us to fade into the background. Doing so plays into the myth of the self-directed learner.

Yes, digital media can support youth to form deep engagement and pursue their own learning. The danger comes in presuming that if only the well-intentioned but old-fashioned adults would get out of the way and let the computer work its magic, a million minds would blossom. But this is not the time for us to admit defeat. In fact, now is the time for us to claim our unique role in the new learning ecologies of the digital age.

Michael Goldberg, publisher & editor-in-chief of URJ Books and Music, responded to Joseph’s points in the comment section of the original piece. He writes:

We at the URJ couldn’t agree more with Barry Joseph. Kids today need both traditional and online curricula that are integrated and where adults can guide the learning process using both tools.

This is the thinking that led us to create Mitkadem Digital, an online companion to the URJ’s Hebrew curriculum. Not only is Mitkadem Digital created to appeal to the various learning skills and styles of students, but it is made to give educators the ability to customize the program to better suit their needs. The Mitkadem learning management system allows teachers and educators to track student progress, upload their own lessons, and manage their classrooms online.

Online Jewish learning should not exist in a vacuum, but with the guidance of professional and inspiring educators.

Mitkadem Digital launched this week, available through URJ Books and Music. This interactive, fully supported online component of Mitkadem, a five-year Hebrew curriculum for religious school students, explores grammar, vocabulary, and Jewish values through the lens of prayer. It’s self-paced and child-centered approach allows each student to achieve according to his or her own ability and helps teachers feel capable of administering this program to all different kinds of learners, identifying those students who need additional help or are more advanced. Learn more about Mitakdem Digital and see purchasing options. You can even download an introductory webinar to get a feel for the program.

Barry Joseph is right: Digital learners can’t do it alone, and we’re thrilled to introduce Mitakdem Digital to help!