Learning Beyond Classroom Walls: The Smedra Family 21st-Century Learning Space

September 24, 2015

21t Century labIf you wandered into The Smedra Family 21st Century Learning Space unaware of its background, you might think you encountered a professional laboratory or, at the very least, a high-tech college classroom. A modern work space equipped with the latest tools to design professional-quality videos, apps, music, and publications, the Smedra Family 21st Century Learning Space is actually one of the newest additions to Yeshivat Frisch.

Aware of the major role technology plays in our world today, Frisch has always been on the forefront of technological innovation—from instilling Smartboards in every classroom to equipping students with iPads. To continue helping students acquire all the skills needed to adapt and thrive in a rapidly-changing educational and professional landscape, Frisch is proud to add the new learning space thanks to the generosity of Mr. Ira and Mrs. Rachel Smedra, grandparents of Max Srulowitz ’17. The space will be the home of a brand-new project-based computer science curriculum and will be utilized to technologically enhance a variety of other classes. Students will create music, videos, graphic design and art, and more, whether they work on their own projects or collaborate with peers on group assignments. The room includes iMac computers with Retina 5K displays, a 3D printer and 3D scanner to create physical objects based on their 3D design, video conferencing software to support blended learning, and an interactive flat panel touch display linked to an Apply TV to air presentations from both computer and mobile devices.

“It’s amazing to see students walk into the room and realize that the world is available at their fingertips,” said Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, Frisch’s Director of Educational Technology, who will be overseeing the space. “A senior walked into the room on the first day of school and immediately began musing about the types of projects he could create this year, such as stop motion videography for Shiriya. This new learning space will be a genuine idea incubator, and I’m excited to see what our students will create with the possibilities available for them here.”

Frisch teachers will be able to bring their classes for project-based activities involving research, collaboration, specialized computer applications, graphic design, 3D design, and video and audio editing. Some of the ways Rabbi Pittinsky envisions the space being utilized is by the arts track, to create graphic and 3D design; the music track, which will use the room for music composition using Logic Pro advanced professional sound editing software; and by science research classes, to use for 3D gene sequencing.

“My vision for this lab is for it to be used as a center of technology-enhanced learning throughout the day, whether it’s for class or for various after-school clubs and activities,” said Rabbi Pittinsky.

Students will also be able to use the room on a BYOD (bring your own personal device) basis, allowing them to work independently with their own computers or tablets, but powered by the collective technological forces that exist in the room.

“It was a wonderful experience partnering with Mr. and Mrs. Smedra to bring the concept of the 21st Century Learning Space to fruition,” said Rachel Roth, Frisch’s Director of Development. “The Smedras are passionate about ensuring that our students leave Frisch with the tools necessary to succeed in the ever-evolving technological world. We are incredibly grateful for the Smedra family’s generous support which has allowed us to create this innovative addition to Frisch.”