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Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem commemorate the Holocaust with free online courses

  • A two part programme called ‘The Holocaust – an introduction’ will be led by experts from Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem, the world centre for the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.
  • The news comes as Tel Aviv University, the largest and most comprehensive university in Israel, joins FutureLearn as the latest world-leading institution to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the social learning platform.

To mark International Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January), FutureLearn, the social learning platform, has launched a pair of free online courses exploring the history and ongoing scholarship of this important event in world history.

‘The Holocaust – an introduction’ is a two-part programme which has been created by Tel Aviv University, FutureLearn’s latest academic partner, together with Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies and its International Institute for Holocaust Research.

The courses will track the history of the Holocaust – from the emergence of Nazi ideology, through Jewish ghettos and the infamous concentration camps – finally touching on the massive memorial projects undertaken by nations around the world. Each course has been designed to expose the global community of learners on FutureLearn to the diverse range of opinions, research methods and world views which inform the recorded history of the Holocaust.

Both courses will last three weeks and will be open to anyone with an internet connection. The FutureLearn platform, which enables learning through conversation, will allow people around the world to discuss and debate issues raised with each other and with the academics leading the course.

Mark Lester, Global Head of Education Partnerships at FutureLearn said, “As the world reaches the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps and the number of living survivors decreases, it becomes of the utmost importance that the lessons of this turning point in history are kept alive. Massive open online courses have emerged as an important means of reaching thousands of learners around the world with the highest quality learning material on a range of topical issues.”

The courses will seek to stimulate discussion around a number of questions, such as:

  • What factors led to the creation of a totalitarian regime in Germany?
  • What cultural perceptions and ideological traits led to the conception of the Final Solution?
  • What effect did the chaotic day-to-day reality of the concentration camps have on the human mind and spirit?
  • How will the Holocaust be remembered after the passing of the last survivor?

Learners will be guided through different types of historical evidence such as diaries, official documents, news reports, films and other artistic depictions of the Holocaust – all drawn from the world’s largest Holocaust archive at Yad Vashem – as they are introduced to the scholastic method of researching history and the challenges of analysing a diverse range of sources.

Parts one and two of The Holocaust – an introduction are available now for learners to sign up for, with the first course scheduled to begin on 20th April 2015.

Professor Raanan Rein, Vice President of Tel Aviv University said, “Tel Aviv University has led the use of technological innovations in education for many years and these new courses target different audiences within and without the university. They serve as additional proof to our academic excellence, not just in the hard sciences, but in the humanities in general, and Jewish studies in particular. By adopting a comparative approach, these courses are of relevance to students of Holocaust history, Jewish studies, philosophy, genocide studies, and human rights.”

Mr. Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, also welcomed the collaboration with FutureLearn and Tel Aviv University. He said:

“Over the years, Yad Vashem has made huge efforts to promote Holocaust education and commemoration through research, archival work and education. The combination of an international learning platform that develops pedagogical tools and works with academics, an international research institute with leading researchers, and the world’s largest archive, places Yad Vashem in a leading position and offers a unique opportunity for various audiences around the world to learn about this dark period of human history. In order to reach future generations and wide audiences around the globe, Yad Vashem welcomes the cooperation with the partners and the use of technology and modern educational platforms.

“These specific courses include a presentation of Yad Vashem’s museum and campus, which gives additional depth to the learning process and makes the course unique.”

Tel Aviv University joins the growing number of prestigious higher and specialist education institutions offering free online courses on, alongside world-renowned cultural bodies like the British Council, British Library and British Museum. FutureLearn currently reaches close to 900,000 learners from more than 190 countries around the world.

Mark Lester added, “I am delighted to welcome Tel Aviv University to the FutureLearn partnership. These first courses they have produced with Yad Vashem will no doubt prove popular with our global community of learners, building on their understanding of the Holocaust as a turning point in history.”

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