Doing the beyond. An Introduction to the Eitan Institute
Eitan Institute (www.eitan.ac.il) is not for profit educational and research organization supported by Eitan capital.
Original author: Ehud Heller
Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of Israel, wrote in his “Order of the day” while serving as the commander of the Etzel on 1947: “First, ask your soul, whether you’re right — or not. If your idea is not right — do not start; …; But if you believe you’re right; …; then do not ask what are the chances of victory; do not look who are walking behind you; …; Go forward! Do not give up”.
Doing the beyond is to boldly go where no man has gone before, to believe nothing is impossible, to try and look beyond what is obvious today and inspire others to work as one, without fear, in order to make the beyond happen today. This is Eitan. Hello!
Eitan stands for Educational Information Technology Research Institute, a not for profit (best known in Hebrew as “MALKAR”), academically-oriented organization. Our mission is to search, research and develop new ways on how to make students learn better, how to help teachers to be more productive and everyone everywhere to be part of a lifelong community of innovators. The unique characteristic of Eitan lies in its DNA as a young and visionary initiative, with the ability to adapt to changes in order to create real impact on the environment, education and society.
During our 18 years of operation and with the help of many sponsors and caring volunteers, we established hundreds of interactive online and free to use courses and content systems in Hebrew. Our huge experience was driven by and drove much of the research, as Eitan was a pioneer on investigating the implementation of theories such as constructivism and constructionism and predicting the rise of the semantic web, social networks, mobile, video and humanistic computing interfaces, as part of learning environments that empower the learner and significantly improve teaching and assessment.
The multi-disciplinary applied research conducted at Eitan focuses on identifying and classifying the many constraints and challenges of the different actors that prevents technology from playing a significant role in learning and teaching. Our belief is that technology holds the key elements in fulfilling our long time quest to help people understand and perform better in their lives. Change cannot come solely from above, as a directive, or from the ground, as a stochastic process. Any change happening must take into consideration the motivational psychological and sociological mechanisms, as technology as a tool, will stay as a tool, without proper understanding of the philosophy of the application and of the development.
Today, the institute is engaged in building a state of the art experimental open framework for project acceleration, as a new perception for integrating students funding programs, project management and progressive pedagogies. This initiative is part of a long run thesis on how we might generate a new learning ecology in education systems.
Eitan was conceived by Ehud Heller in 1999, as a project workshop within the department of mathematics and computer science at Bar-Ilan University, under the direct supervision of Dr. Ariel Frank, who served as the deputy chairperson. In 2000, Eitan became an academic unit within the IUCC, Inter-University Computation Center, and on 2004 was established as a standalone association.
At her peek, the workshop operated hundreds of students who conducted their final year programming project, that where back then, first of their kind in Israel, developing interactive online courses in Hebrew, teaching various subjects on science, programming, networking and more, for the greater good of students and the general public. More than 400 large scale projects developed during the years by self-motivated students, who wanted to do something with a meaning, from Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, Technion and Inter-Disciplinary Center (IDC) College. In addition, Eitan in-house programmers develop one of the first full feature digital video station management platform together with the Ono academic college and a Digital Library for IT standards, in cooperation with the Israeli Standards Institute.
Do with us
“I WANT YOU FOR U.S ARMY” is a famous Uncle Sam poster from 1917 by J. M. Flagg. “Any great artist came out from here?” as the interviewer as an omnivores critic, trying to bring crumbs to his hungry audience. The teacher heard what he said and the words proceeded slowly into her brain and became great anger. “We do not educate artists here, we educate people!” The struggle over education is a struggle on the humanistic image of our society. True, many give their promise, many try to fulfill, so many ideas, and yet so many failures.
The notorious 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, well described the gap between the ones who accept the reality as it is and the ones who inspire to change it, when he wrote that “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see”. Actually, the paradox, as Voltaire saw it, is that common sense is not so common, only after the newly to arrive genius hits the invisible — to many — target, suddenly everyone sees it and, usually, saying, ohm that is obvious….
We can’t hit the target alone, we can see it, but not hit it. Even the greatest invention of all and best ideas will stay closed in the drawer if the right and daring people are not present. “I WANT YOU FOR EITAN”, yes, you, we need you all to help us, cooperate with us, only together we will be able to succeed in our quest for a better future, not only for our children at school, but for all of us.