KAMRAT: The Story of a Virtual Multicultural Learning Community in Israel

Prof. Edna APHEK

Israel is a multicultural country, a country made up of different ethnic groups : many having their own culture, language and even religion. There isn’t much contact between some of the groups, especially between the secular Jews and the ultra orthodox Jews and between the Jewish population and the Arab population which comprises about 1/6th of Israel’s population. The new technologies and especially the technology of on-line computer telecommunication endow us with new tools and possibilities for on-going multi- cultural and multi- age communication between different ethnical groups. The new technologies know no stigma and no prejudice and as such easify and make possible neutral, less biased communication between groups, which are much apart. This paper is about the creation of an on- going learning community Kamrat, a multicultural on-line learning community, between two schools, in Israel, in 2000: One Israeli Arab school (A) and the other Israeli Jewish school (J). The tools used for the creation of this community were two: a closed network in Hebrew and the internet. Participants were learners in 7-9 grade. The project was conducted between Jan- May 2000 (with one introductory meeting in November 1999). The communities participating in the project, master two different languages: the language of the Jewish Israeli community is Hebrew, where as the language of the Arab community is Arabic. The project was conducted in the Hebrew language, and the Arab learners were encouraged to write some of the material uploaded in Arabic in Hebrew letters.