The Visit of the Delegation from Germany to The MOFET Institute
The Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor maintains a framework for an exchange of knowledge with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany (BMBF). It is in this framework that a delegation from Germany, whose members are involved in the issue of Quality Assurance in various fields, visited Israel. Because of its unique standing as a center for professional development, The MOFET Institute was included in the delegation’s itinerary.
The visit to MOFET, on November 12, 2012, commenced with the introduction of the participants, most of whom were linked in one way or another to technological education in schools, colleges, and teacher education.
Dr. Michal Golan, head of The MOFET Institute, presented the various settings that have been developed at the Institute for the purpose of developing the teacher educators, namely, writing, research, collegial encounters, the School for Professional Specialization, and the International Channel. She also presented the support settings, namely, the Communication Center, the Information Center, and the portals.
Dr. Sara Ziv, founder of the Institute and currently head of the International Channel, went on to explain that a rich and complex system such as this was not created in a single day, and recounted her personal story to demonstrate the process of establishing and developing the Institute. Dr. Ziv stressed the fact that the MOFET model can be applied in various disciplines, and used the case of setting up the International Channel as an example in order to explain the stage of examining the field and identifying the needs as well as the stage of preparing the program.
Later on, the guests met Prof. Ya’akov Kedem, head of the Academic Management specialization. Prof. Kedem came to The MOFET Institute from the field of industry and business, and in his talk, he included examples of tools borrowed from those fields and adapted to the needs of higher education. In most institutions of higher education, there are no systematic tools for examining quality, and Prof. Kedem suggested several areas that the institutions are required to examine: for instance, leadership, planning, personnel, clients (are the students clients?), and social involvement. Usually, institutions of higher education have made do with measuring the extent of the students’ satisfaction; this is not quality control.
Mr. Ami Salant, head information specialist at MOFET, presented the Information Center and the challenge posed by the need to be at the cutting edge and at the same time to deal with the flood of information. He used the metaphor of refineries in order to demonstrate the process of refining new ideas and examining their contribution.
Ms. Penny Barsimantov, coordinator of MOFET’s international portals, demonstrated the portal as a platform for professional development. She related to it as a tool that assists research and as a factor that encourages those who use it to seek additional sources and to expand their knowledge. The portal is characterized by an attempt to create a community, to generate a global dialogue, and also, among other things, to mediate between writers and respondents.
Prof. Shlomo Back explained the unique place of the teacher education system within the higher education system in Israel. He described a process that he was leading at MOFET when a decision was taken to prepare for a process of quality control within the teacher education system. As opposed to the process that was instigated in the universities, the colleges of education decided to think and plan together. To this end, a group of 30 representatives from the colleges was convened. A workshop format was utilized to clarify the importance of relating to the process of quality control. Most of the work focused on the question of what must be asked. For instance: What place does theory occupy in the preparation for a practical profession that was created out of experience? What is the connection among the various departments in the college? Is there a coherent, integrative program for nurturing the teacher?
For example, in the secondary school mathematics teacher education program, the students must have a mastery not only of math but also of the didactics of mathematics teaching and of the psychology of the age group they are about to teach. A training program that takes these and additional components into account must be built collaboratively, with a structured dialogue that is based on the vision of what it means “to be a good teacher”. Needless to say, the question arises of how a program whose partners (teachers of mathematics, education, psychology, the people in the “field”) speak different languages can be evaluated. Prof. Back indicated that the process has not yet been completed, and approval for its implementation is still pending.
The guests had many questions about the structure of teacher education in Israel and the way teachers should be trained today. Preliminary ideas for cooperation were offered, and we hope that we will be able to develop them.