Mercava, a nonprofit educational technology platform and incubator, will be launching a summer campaign to introduce formal and informal Jewish educators across North America to the organization’s new line of interactive Jewish books and invite them to co-design the upcoming digital lessons product line in advance of the 2014–15 school year.
Rather than producing its own content, Mercava serves as “the technology team for the Jewish world,” providing Jewish educators with the technology platform, media resources, and talent they require to produce irresistible learning experiences.
“From the outset, our mission has been to bring together the world’s top talent from the fields of technology, entertainment, and education in order to empower Jewish educators around the globe to create cutting-edge digital learning experiences for students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” said Yehuda Moshe, co-founder and CEO of Mercava.
“Though we plan to offer an online marketplace of interactive books, lessons, media, apps, and games in the future, our initial focus has been the development of interactive versions of the books that have been requested consistently by Jewish educators across the globe. Listening and being fully responsive to the needs of educators has always been our top priority and will continue to shape our priorities moving forward.”
The organization’s summer campaign aims to ensure that as many educators as possible add Mercava’s interactive texts to their toolkits before the next school year.
“For generations, Jewish educators have been searching for ways to engage their students in Torah study and make the texts relatable to students of varied ages and abilities. Our online interactive books are crowd-sourced masterpieces—including the input of over 100 educators and scholars—that are so intuitive, fun, and easy to use that even the most timid or disinterested students will be drawn to the magic of the experience,” added Moshe.
For example, Mercava’s interactive Talmud incorporates elements that personalize the experience and make the text more approachable, including the ability to change the text’s Hebrew fonts and access phrase-by-phrase translations as well as vowels, punctuation, and elucidation.
“To optimize the experience, all of our interactive titles also include a feature that allows students to add notes, questions, or personal commentary that can be associated with specific words and phrases. Those notes are then accessible from one central workspace for easy review,” explained Ariel Isaacson, Mercava’s chief technology officer.
“Over the next several months, we will be adding a ‘social’ component to the notes feature, giving students the ability to share their notes with others and allowing educators to review the students’ notes, affording the teachers an important glimpse into their students’ thought processes.”
By the end of July, Mercava will also roll out a ‘live interaction’ feature, which will allow students to learn in real-time with anyone else in the world on the Mercava platform. The live feature will create dynamic international classrooms that will empower educators to guide their students’ learning experiences, including the ability to highlight specific texts and turn pages.
Over the course of the next year, Mercava will continue to develop “the Lesson Builder,” a media toolkit that will allow the international community of Mercava users—teachers and students—to leverage each other’s knowledge and resources to create interactive and visual lessons for every subject area and grade level throughout Jewish education with built-in progress tracking and reporting tools. In addition, 500 other interactive books are also currently in production.
Mercava (www.themercava.com) is a nonprofit organization that is bringing together the world’s top talent in technology, entertainment, and education to empower Jewish educators around the globe to create digital educational experiences that are not only relatable but irresistible to students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Leveraging Mercava’s unique resources, including cutting-edge technologies and a deep pool of professional talent, both formal and informal educators are bringing Jewish education to life through interactive books, lessons, media, apps, films, and games.
Responding to widespread demand, Mercava’s initial focus is the development of interactive versions of the books most often used by Jewish educators. Fully interactive versions of the Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, Talmud Bavli, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, Aruch HaShulchan, and Mesilat Yesharim are already in use by thousands of students across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and 500 additional titles are currently in production. v