It’s Time for Education’ – Harnessing Social Media in Support of Strengthening Mathematics and Science Excellence in Middle Schools – 2019/2020
The largest online education community in Israel will focus on mathematics and science teachers in middle schools and develop a sense of pride in their professionalism and affiliations.
Established in 2014, “It’s Time for Education” (Higia Zman Chinuch), the digital arm of the foundation, grew to become the largest online educational community in Israel. We created it to ignite discourse around our efforts in high school, to encourage potential career-changers to become teachers, and to focus public attention on quality teaching, especially in mathematics and the sciences. We used it to introduce new pedagogic concepts, such as growth mindset, grit, clinical teaching and personalized learning, and recently added a podcast “Listening to Education”, enabling our audience to not only read the content, but also listen to it.
The heart of “It’s Time for Education” is an online magazine, which provides a platform for teachers to share their practice with the professional community and the public. Today, the magazine has 47,000 followers on Facebook and 45,000 subscribers to its weekly newsletter. The number of readers has steadily grown along the years, however in the past year, the number of visitors to the Homepage decreased from 150,000 to 125,000 visitors. We can only speculate what caused this decline, which may relate to changes in information consumption preferences and in Facebook’s dissemination algorithms.
In preparation towards our new effort in middle schools, we closely examined the potential of “It’s Time for Education”. Some audiences will obviously remain, whereas others will leave. However, a designated effort will need to be executed, in order to attract mathematics and science teachers from middle schools. We will have to encourage them to be more open and to share with each other, to engage in professional discourse, and to develop a sense of pride in their professionalism and affiliations. We will do this through direct targeting and by collaborating with online teacher groups.
While turning the wheel of “It’s Time for Education” towards middle school, we noticed that today’s audience has a slightly different preference in the way it interacts with information on social media. As part of a general trend, they seem to favor rich visual content, mostly through short video clips and infographics. Therefore, in the coming year, as we move middle school teachers to the center stage, we will also increase the development of visual content in the magazine. This effort will include a series of best teaching practices, video-blogging by middle school teachers, teacher’s video op-eds, storytelling workshops, and short clips on outstanding academic articles.
In order to do so, we will need to use a fitting technological infrastructure, which will support the visual content and its dissemination. In addition, we will make a designated effort to engage Arab teachers, with help from a digital media expert from the Arab society. Arab teachers today are hardly exposed and engaged in the magazine, reflecting the larger need to unleash an untapped potential for excellence in mathematics and the sciences in Arab schools. To do so, we will use the technological infrastructure to support the visual content in the Arabic language, and translate articles to Arabic.
It is expected that all these activities will lead to an increase of 40% in website visitors and 15% in Facebook subscribers, and an increase in monthly engagement from 6,700 to 7,750 responses average. We will expand the writer community from 200 to 250, with the majority of the new members being middle school teachers, including from the Arab society.
* The text presented above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation Board / Grant 333