March 19, 2020

Technion Goes Virtual

For the first time in Technion’s history, the semester opened with a comprehensive program of distance teaching and learning.

The spring semester at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology opened on schedule – Wednesday, March 18, 2020 – with a comprehensive program of distance teaching and learning. This is in accordance with the updated guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the Council for Higher Education following the spread of COVID-19.

Technion has long been investing in the development and promotion of innovative digital teaching technologies. This has included both implementation and the training of faculty members in novel teaching methods for distance and hybrid learning (which combines frontal teaching with distance learning). Now, as a result of the spread of COVID-19, all Technion faculties are prepared for distance teaching and learning. In the past days, faculty members have undergone refresher training.

“We opened the semester with online courses and distance learning for thousands of students from home,” said Dean of Undergraduate Studies Prof. Hossam Haick. “We believe that with teamwork, and the efforts of our faculty members, we will provide digital learning extensively. We conducted intensive equipment testing with the participation of dozens of lecturers and some 2,000 students, to identify and fix glitches and to improve technical preparation for the opening of the semester.”

“In recent weeks we have put a lot of effort into building the technological infrastructure and carry out the necessary training,” wrote Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan to faculty and students. “However, transferring all instruction to online teaching is a major challenge. Its implementation during normal times would have been spread over a long period with numerous testing. The rapid proliferation of the Coronavirus left us with little time, and so there may still be glitches. We are confident that you understand this and that your cooperation will help correct any issues that may arise.”

“The online learning program is led by the Center for Promotion of Learning and Teaching headed by Dr. Abigail Barzilai,” said Senior Executive Vice President Prof. Oded Rabinovitch. “The Center, the faculty, the adjunct staff, and all relevant departments at Technion are working day and night to help us get through this challenging period and return quickly to a conventional teaching and learning routine. The students, under the courageous and wise leadership of the Students Association, are our true partners as we embark on this complex program together.”

In recent years, the Technion has introduced innovative technologies for distance teaching and learning, including:
A. Synchronous learning based on live broadcast of lectures, tutorials and meetings using the Zoom app.
B. Asynchronous learning based on pre-recorded lectures, the MOODLE learning management system, accessibility of digital materials via the Panopto system, shared access of documents and materials, and discussion forums. Hundreds of videotaped courses and lessons are available online.
C. Integrated synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Dr. Aviv Censor of the Faculty of Mathematics at Technion is Israel’s leading online lecturer. Following the move to distance learning in the days of Corona, Censor filmed a special training video that has already received thousands of views. For the video click here.

Remote Learning at the Technion