By Chevi Rubin

Why bells and whistles don’t work and how Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy uses multimedia to enhance learning

A chocolate coating will not get kids to eat broccoli! And in the world of online Jewish education, all the bells and whistles imaginable won’t motivate kids to learn.

As creators of online courses in Jewish studies, Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy is driven by one goal:

To create engaging courses that inspire students to learn the subject matter in a deep and meaningful way.

In our course development process, we start off with a general topic and outline the big ideaChocolate covered broccolis for the course. As our plans become more focused, and we discuss content and themes, the conversation naturally turns to utilizing multimedia to convey our message.


But using multimedia for the sake of using multimedia does not work. Bells, whistles, gadgets, and gizmos may capture students’ attention for a while, but without meaningful content, the fireworks always fade.

When we embed multimedia in our courses from the very beginning of our process, it is not merely a flashy add-on. We carefully and selectively create interactive modules alongside the course content to ensure that we are reaching our educational goals. Our use of technology enables students to engage with the material, and to experience it in a more impactful and relevant way.

An image, video, or song, elicits an emotional response in a way that text could never do. Interacting with the material allows kids to learn actively and guide the direction and pace of their learning. When students work through a multimedia module, they embark on and participate in a discovery process, rather than being given the information.

For us, technology is the tool we use to transmit our message. It challenges us to take rich and meaningful Jewish content, and deliver it in a new and relevant way. And that is why our courses are engaging, challenging, and fun for students semester after semester.

Otherwise, we’d just be feeding them chocolate covered broccoli.