If until not so long ago there were some, particularly among the teachers, who were angered by the fact that the students are surfing in Facebook nonstop and claimed that the social network has taken over the classroom lessons, it seems that there are now those who have decided to take advantage of this tool to improve the studies.
The new instruction program, called "The Bible on Facebook", was developed by Dr. Ilan Abekasis and Shirley Natan-Yulzari, experts in Bible teaching from the Levinsky College of Education, and it is aimed at teaching the students the Bible profession by surfing in the social network.
Elijah's profile. 'Employer: God' (Facebook screenshot)
The team of experts recently opened "personal profiles" for most Biblical characters, which present information about the marital status, professions and habits of the Bible heroes, including Moses, Avshalom, Bathsheba, Calev, Abigail the wife of Nabal, and Joab.
The personal profile of Elijah, for example, notes that he is employed by God and that his main profession is to "root out the idolatry of King Ahab." The relationship status of Bathsheba says she is married to King David after he sent Uriah the Hittite to die in war. The profile of David's daughter, Tamar, says she's in a relationship with her brother Amnon, after he fell in love with her and brutally raped her.
As part of the new method and for the purpose of Bible studies, the students have abandoned the traditional classrooms with the blackboard and chalk for the computer labs. Each students has his or her own computer, and each time the "like" one of the characters, a window opens with an assignment related to the studying material, which combine links to songs and clips on YouTube.
'Enjoyable and different'
The project was introduced recently as a pilot in a Petah Tikva junior high, and has been very successful. The students, who were surprised by the idea, appear to be satisfied, at least according to a report submitted to the Levinsky College's management which included some of the pupils' comments.
"The Facebook project made me take an interest in the Bible. The lesson was very clear! And it was really fun!!" wrote one of the students. Another student added, "The lesson in the computer room was very enjoyable and different. It's a great idea which combined studies with fun and laughter."
Joab's profile. 'Didn't finish high school' (Facebook screenshot)
The schools Bible teachers expressed their satisfaction too, saying that the profiles and student tasks were prepared with an emphasis on the world of teenagers.
"There is no doubt that Facebook added a tangible layer to biblical characters and contributed significantly to increasing the student's enjoyment and desire to learn," one of the teachers said. "On the very first lesson the students showed great enthusiasm, and I realized that choosing Facebook as a method of teaching excites the students and places them in a better starting point for the lesson."
Another teacher added, "During the planning of the first lesson I had many fears because the students were eager to use Facebook for their personal needs. However, I was happy to feel that the children are interested and study attentively, and it raised my motivation to create additional lessons using Facebook."
The new study program was presented at a conference dealing with the education system in the 1st century, and according to Dr. Abekasis, following the success of the pilot classes, the college has been approached by teachers of different subjects who wish to adopt the method.
"This is an initiative aimed at evoking interest and motivation among the students, advancing creativity and basically enriching the Bible teachers' tool box," he explained.
"Facebook's strength," he adds, "is taking advantage of a platform which is already popular among the students, creating a Facebook profile for biblical characters and the students' connection to the different characters allows us to teach the Bible in a rich and diverse way.
"It's a known fact that the Bible subject suffers from bad PR and the choice of Facebook symbolizes the connection to the children's world."
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