The Ministry of Education defines digital integrated learning as “a strategy that enables continuity of learning (teaching/learning/assessment anywhere and anytime) by adjusting to personalized learning (personalization), experiential learning and the development of knowledge, skills and values”. No other definitions were found.
Constitution and laws: Israel has no written constitution. Instead, there is a system of basic laws and rights which are viewed with semi-constitutional status. The Eleven Basic Laws deal with two main issues: the powers of the governing bodies and basic human rights.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2017 Digital Israel National Initiative: The National Digital Program of the Government of Israel aims to leverage the digital potential for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel socially, economically and educationally. The program promoted the transition to digital products such as a remote system of free tutoring lessons. One of the key areas to be addressed includes adapting digital skills in the education system, academia and the labor force to the modern employment market. This meant that class lessons should integrate the use of computer applications, smart Internet use and dedicated programs to learn programming. According to this document, the Ministry of Education was also developing a strategic digital program that will include initiatives such as: Improving the quality of learning and teaching with tools suitable for the digital age while developing digital learning environments, digital content, and sharing content and programs between teachers and teachers’ professional development. The program will also aim to promote management competencies in the education system, which will integrate the use of information management systems.
The Director General's Circular 2015 / 7 (b) from March 2000 called for the inclusion of ICT in the curriculum. This was followed by the committee's recommendations for defining ICT policy in the education system in December 2002. This policy defines computer skills and information handling as part of the basic skills which are required of every elementary school graduate in Israel.
The 2010-11 National ICT Program, Adapting the educational system to the 21st Century, is the main framework for the country’s education technology policy. The program has eight main goals: 1) Promoting teaching, learning and assessment processes that develop technological and digital literacy adapted to the 21st century and creating independent learners; 2) Intelligent use of content worlds - books and digital content, tools and environments for teaching, learning, and assessment in high technology learning environments; 3) Implementation of quality teaching, learning and assessment practices that promote collaborative learning, self-learning, and exploration in the digital space; 4) Implementation of processes and tools used for evaluation alternatives and distinctions in an electronic environment (self-learning course, MOOC course replacing matriculation, electronic matriculation, alternatives in evaluation in a digital environment); 5) Training, professional development and instructional accompaniment of the teachers for the intelligent implementation of teaching, learning and assessment in advanced, high technology environments; 6) Promoting and leading pedagogical innovation among teachers while encouraging the sharing of professional knowledge among teachers; 7) Preparing for regular and emergency distance learning and; 8) Implementation of safe conduct in the network.
The program works to integrate ICT in schools. Schools should aim to improve teachers’ skills, adapt learning and teaching to the student’s differences, give real-time feedback, establish a continuum of learning in class and at home and strengthen the connection between home and school, and encourage the use of ICT technology by the school administration. While some of the action steps in the program are conducted in a centralized and systemic way, some are done at the locality/school level under the leadership of the local authority and school principals and under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Education. The plan also builds the technological infrastructure needed to turn the schools into ICT-enabled organizations. The staff will also undergo training to use the benefits of ICT to improve the educational process. The plan starts by upgrading the primary schools and divides the provided resources into four categories: 1) equipment such as computers, speakers, and interactive boards; 2) an operating budget for the school ICT coordinator, an ICT technician, internet, and content for students and teachers; 3) a budget for the training of school officials, teachers, and other staff to help with the integration of technology into schools; 4) digital content, setting up a system for digitizing existing textbooks as well as approving, developing, creating, standardizing digital study materials and a content portal.
The Ministry of Education’s “Technology and Science Excellence Student Reserve” plan set the criteria for a science and technology matriculation diploma. The Ministry of Education’s Work Programme for 2018-2019 sets four objectives: excellence in learning- advancing high-quality, meaningful learning which supports achievements, self-realization and excellence. In this objective, goals include the enrichment of teaching and education through online learning, life skills and social lessons; as well as the advancement of technological education maturity, certification, and its integration in industry.
The Spatial Planning and Design M21 and P21 were two national programs which focused on the redesigning of learning spaces and upgrading them so teachers could utilize more innovative teaching practices, adequate for the 21st century.
The government has also been making an effort to target the gender imbalance in STEM through the Advancing Girls’ Students in the Educational System in the STEM Disciplines – work program for 2016. The program’s main objective is to promote equal opportunities in Science and Technology and encourage girls to choose disciplines from the STEM field in secondary education.
Digital competency frameworks: Digital literacy is defined as the set of abilities, skills and knowledge most essential for dealing with the digital environment in the 21st century. According to the 2030 graduate character skills document, digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies for a variety of needs, both for educational purposes and in everyday life, in a responsible, efficient and appropriate manner, to quickly adapt to changes, to reduce risks of vulnerability in the online environment, and to quickly adapt to technological developments. Digital literacy skills are split into several core abilities and actions. Core abilities include operation and troubleshooting, consumption and creation of content in digital media, cooperation online, and Ethics and safe conduct online. This framework is mostly used within the education system.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Economic Plan, established to help cope with the coronavirus crisis, sought to improve the nation’s infrastructure. This included plans regarding improving internet connection and the digital education system.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: Electricity in Israel is governed under the 1954 Electricity Law, 5714 The majority of the electricity generated in Israel is supplied by the government-owned electric utility company, the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC). The government also seeks to use more renewable energy, with a goal to use 80% natural gas and 20% or more of renewable gas by 2030.
Computers and devices: The Adapting the educational system to the 21st Century program plan is a multi-year plan with several stages. In the first stage, the plan provides schools with laptop computers for teachers and a basic configuration in each classroom (projector, darkening devices, and speakers). In the advanced stage, the Ministry of Education also subsidizes for 1:3 interactive boards per class and the purchase of laptops at a ratio of 5:1 for students, including charging carts for the laptops. The aim is to build teacher skills with basic technological infrastructure before introducing more expensive infrastructure plans, such as a laptop per student. The Ministry has also promised to fund computers for all students in the country in 2019 and again in 2020.
There also is an ongoing program called Computer for Every Child which seeks to reduce the digital divide. Each computer kit comes with 45 hours of training for the child and the parent, a basket of software and learning, an internet connection for a year, and warranty and technical support for three years. Similarly, Computer for Every Classroom provided hybrid computers to all 4th-grade students in selected settlements. The program includes three years of instruction and implementation on the use of the computer as part of the curriculum for the students and the educational staff.
Internet connectivity: As part of the basic configuration stage of the Adapting the educational system to the 21st-century program plan, internet access is provided to all schools. The school also receives an ongoing operating budget that includes funding for Internet connection, content providers, and a budget for maintenance. In this, the Ministry of Education set a high standard for bandwidth and connection quality, but they do not finance the full cost.
The 2020 Economic Plan seeks to ensure nation-wide connectivity. This includes a dedicated fund to subsidize connections in areas that are less profitable for internet providers. According to a 2018 report by the Israel Internet Association, internet infrastructure in the Arab sector is unstable and lacks adequate security.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The main point of service which consolidates all the ICT resources is the Educational Cloud. The Educational Resources Library, software support, and educational communities. Services include (1) The ICT program (2) Digital Content (3) Secure surfing of the Web (4) Digital eBooks (5) Distance learning (6) Professional development (7) Cooperative learning (8) Learning Management System (LMS) (9) The School Portal (10) School management. The Ministry of Education previously published a list of the LMS’ approved for use in the educational system.
The Pedagogical Secretariat and Tel Aviv University have a joint "Online Academic High School" program which is made up of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The courses are taught as part of classroom instruction and are integrated into the main subject areas. Joining the program is conditional on the professional development of the teachers teaching an online academic course.
In the 2010-2015 guide by the Ministry of Education regarding the implementation of ICT in the classrooms, the possibility of an emergency situation, which is officially defined and announced by the Ministry of Education, is addressed. The ministry recognizes that there “may be a situation in which the regular educational activity in the educational institutions will be limited for a period of time that can last from several days to several weeks”. In a state of emergency, the school functions according to the state of emergency procedure guidelines. The goals during this time are to respond to the various needs of the education system through the online environment if learners are prevented from coming to school; have a supportive social-educational framework while providing regular activities for students, regardless of the physical location where the student and the teacher are; provide an immediate and relevant response to the distresses and concerns that arise as a result of the emergency; and carry out structured and guided educational and social activities as a substitute for classroom studies. The Ministry of Education also provides a booklet of instruction for learning in an emergency. An action model is provided as well as an emergency learning site for distance learning.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government of Israel launched a “Learn with Confidence” webpage. The pandemic also highlighted a large digital gap between the different sectors in Israel.
The “Science and Technology” course is a spiral curriculum where content is distributed and revisited over months and across grades starting in kindergarten and up through primary and secondary schools. The curriculum was updated in 2011 with a new emphasis on higher thinking processes. Students explore the scientific investigative process, the design process found in technology, and nurture their information-seeking and processing skills.
At the end of the 9th grade, students can choose a specialization for their Baccalaureate diploma. There are several programs that students can choose which are related to technology. This includes a Technological pathway in which the student focus on Sciences studies and Technological studies. The other is a focus on Sciences which includes Technology in Society. There is also a Technician and Baccalaureate programme in which students can become a qualified technician at the end of the programme. Online academic courses are also integrated into the curriculum.
The Adapting the educational system to the 21st Century program plan contains a list of 21st century skills which students and teachers are expected to acquire. This includes mastering the use of ICT tools of various types for teaching and learning purposes, for example, building a database in Excel. Next is Information and media literacy, meaning the ability to search and retrieve information, cross reference information and merge it, and to evaluate information. Students should have the ability for critical thinking and problem solving as well as be able to communicate, collaborate and work together as a team effectively. They must be independent learners who can utilize the internet to update and learn regularly. Finally, there must be an understanding of ethical and safe conduct online. This includes knowledge of copyright laws and especially conduct according to moral values.
Israel implements a digital media and information literacy (DMIL) education curriculum for schools nationwide. The curriculum’s conceptual framework comprises of eight themes: Technological Literacy (Coding and Robotics), Information Technology Literacy, Digital Media Literacy, Collaborating in the Digital Environment, Social Media Literacy and Online Verbal Communication, Digital Ethics and Safety in Online Environments, Information Literacy in the Digital Environment, and Reading and Writing in the Digital Environment. Students should be able to complete tasks such as identifying relevant information online as needed, evaluating it critically, integrating it and present it in different ways. They also can protect themselves from danger and have a basic understanding of PC security, accessibility and ergonomics.
For a list of digital literacy frameworks, please see:
Israel also uses the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model which does list nine specific competencies that should be imparted at each education level: 1) Operating end-user tools and managing data files; 2) Learning (management and operating) in an online environment; 3) Text and writing in a connected, collaborative and public digital environment; 4) Edit, visualize, and display visual information; 5) Digital Media Literacy; 6) Collaboration, communication and social media in the digital environment; 7) Ethics and personal protection in the digital environment; 8) Information literacy in the digital environment; 9) Handling information and presenting it clearly with the appropriate digital means.
Each school that wishes to turn the school into an ICT organization is expected to have a school ICT coordinator and a teacher who focuses on the subject, gathers the necessary knowledge, and follows and updates on the changes that characterize the field.
The National Authority for Assessment and Evaluation in Education (RAMA), an independent body within the Ministry of Education, is in charge of designing and implementing the national evaluation and assessment framework.
There are many training opportunities for teachers in Israel, both in-service and initial pre-service training. The Division for Teachers’ Training in the Ministry of Education is responsible for coordinating teacher training at the national level. The pedagogical secretariat works on policy in the areas of teaching-learning-evaluation. They also provide online professional development, including one course on “optimal distance learning”
According to a self-reported Country Report on ICT in Education, ICT is an integral part of the curriculum of Teachers’ Training Colleges. In the first year, teachers take the ICT Literacy A (Beginners) and ICT Literacy B (Advanced) classes. In year two, Integrating ICT in teaching and ICT Teaching Environments are the required year-long courses. The purpose of these courses is to include ICT in the pedagogical activities of students in their schools. In the third year, teachers are required to take the courses titled, Integration of Information Technologies and Advanced Digital Applications and Planning Studies in the Digital Era – ICT-based Pedagogical Models in Educational and Teaching Processes. The same report states that 95% of teachers participate in ICT-related training programs. Teachers can take professional development courses that the Ministry of Education offers.
Israel has a National in-Service Teacher Training Centre for Science and Technology in Primary Schools and a National in-Service Teacher Training Centre for Science and Technology in the Junior High School. Both centers provide ongoing training as well as initial training for teachers. The websites contain information and resources on technology education. There are also online courses which are available for teachers, such as those provided by the Division for ICT Information Systems in the Ministry and the Centre for Educational Technology (CET). Each course assesses the digital competences acquired by the trainees as a condition of their certification.
A 2012 guidelines document on the implementation of the Adapting the educational system to the 21st Century National Plan describes the skills that teachers need in order to adapt ICT into their classrooms. This includes: Integrating digital resources contents for teaching, learning and evaluation; Integrating such resources for enrichment, establishing interest and challenges and increasing motivation; strengthening ICT skills as a requirement for establishing ICT literacy capacity; establishing communication processes through ICT; using the network for communication between the schools and the home; using ICT for cooperative learning; and understanding safe Internet practices. The document contains expected outputs for teachers at the different stages of ICT integration. In the first stage, teachers are expected to integrate a digital item into a lesson plan. Next, teachers plan a lesson/unit incorporating ICT according to the need of their classroom. In the last two stages, ICT becomes an inseparable component of the teacher's work environment and is integrated as a routine in teaching and learning.
The Division for Elementary Education, in coordination with the Administration for Science and Technology and the Division for Curriculum Planning and Development, prepared a booklet titled "Learning in a Digital Environment in Elementary Education". The book deals with learning in a digital environment in elementary school. It defines the educational goals, pedagogical principles, and the achievements required of the students, which will guide the teachers when they come to plan teaching, learning and assessment processes in an electronic environment, and will guide them on how to build the learning environment and adapt learning activities and content for the digital classroom.
The Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model is implemented as part of the professional development of teachers. SAMR is a framework which categorizes four different degrees of classroom technology integration.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 1992 Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty, 5752 states that all persons have the right to privacy. The 1981 Protection of Privacy Law, 5741 (the Privacy Law) is the main law which protects individuals’ data. The Privacy Law governs the gathering and utilization of personal and sensitive information, outlines the responsibilities and duties of those who collect and utilize the data, establishes security measures for the data, and defines the rights of individuals whose information is being collected and used. It also gives the Privacy Protection Authority ('PPA') power to enforce the law. The 2017 Protection of Privacy (Data Security) Regulations, 5777 (the Data Security Regulations) further details rules specifically regarding data protection using ICT. The PPA’s guidelines state that in the case of minors under 18, the collection and use of their data must be accompanied by informing and obtaining the consent of their parent or guardian.
The Ministry of Education provides guidance on cyber security and explicitly mentions the keeping and handling of private information. It reminds readers that information should only be kept by the Ministry of Education systems, technological educational services approved by the Ministry of Education, a dedicated network library on the school server, and Microsoft school cloud environments. Some pages discuss how to create a secure online learning environment and information security when teaching.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Israel does not have any laws that specifically address cyberbullying. However, the act may fall under several other legal provisions. According to the 1982 Israeli Communications Act, using a "Bezeq facility" to perform an act of harassment is strictly forbidden. A "Bezeq facility" is defined as “any facility or device that is used in order to transmit, receive or transfer signs, signals, visual forms, writings, voices or information using wire, wireless, an optic system or other electromagnetic systems”. The 1998 Israeli Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act in Article 3(a)(5a), states that sexual harassment may be "a publication of a picture, a video or a recording of a person, focused on that person's sexuality, when the publication may humiliate or degrade that person, and when that person did not give his consent to the publication". The 1981 Protection of Privacy Law, 5741 considers documenting a person without their consent to be an invasion of privacy. In the 1977 Israeli Criminal Code threatening another person and inciting violence against another person are also prohibited.
Government agencies, the internet industry, NGOs and public organizations work together to promote internet safety. For example, the Ministry of Public Security has developed resources online to raise public awareness regarding internet safety such as a safe internet guide and a variety of tips and advice for parents and children. A “Safe Internet Pact” was developed by the Ministry’s Metzila division and the Ministry of Education to help students learn safe internet guidelines. The pact is in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The education system in Israel is governed by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance. Local authorities have strong governing power as well. The Ministry of Education determines and implements the primary and secondary education laws and policies. The state education system is divided into four different tracks: state-secular (Mamlachti), state-religious (Mamlachti dati), ultra-orthodox independent religious (חרדי Haredi or חינוך עצמאי Ḥinuch Atzmai), and Arab. Both the Hebrew (state-secular) and Arabic streams are managed at the Ministry level, while the state-religious and ultra-orthodox independent streams have their own sub-administration bodies within the Ministry of Education. Upper-secondary schools are mainly managed by local administrative bodies. This system results in an education sector which is highly segregated as each track functions independently and is set up with various degrees of efficiency. For example, the Educational Cloud, the portal by which the Ministry of Education shares education technology resources, is only available in Hebrew. Urgent online government services were either inadequate or non-existent in Arabic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Computers were also not introduced into the Arabic stream until a decade after the Hebrew-speaking sectors.
Digital education is mainly under the responsibility of the Administration for ICT, Technology and Information Systems and the Pedagogical Secretary. Both of which are a part of the Ministry of Education. There is also a Division for Information Technologies which is responsible for implementing ICT into the educational system in Israel. The division’s responsibilities include guiding the implementation through a variety of means such as planning activities in schools, conferences, courses and lectures, guidance days, and a variety of projects in different areas. The Pedagogical Affairs Administration is responsible for pedagogical planning, curriculum development, and teaching policy design. There is also a Ministry of Cyber and National Digital Matters which oversees Digital Israel.
Schools in Israel can autonomously decide if they wish to join the Adapting the educational system to the 21st Century program. There are no official policies regarding Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, though the Ministry of Education did promote policies that rely on BYOD. For example, in this guide by the Ministry of Education regarding the implementation of ICT in the classrooms, BYOD is described and encouraged as a way for teachers to apply an "inverted classroom" model.