The Tartak Learning Center: Past, Present and Future
1979 "The Rhea Hirsch School of Education establishes the Tartak Learning Center, providing media and instructional resources for part-time teachers." (www.huc.edu/chronicle/60/latimeline.shtml)
1982 From an unsigned memo entitled "Microcomputer Proposal for the Tartak Learning Center"
  • The Tartak Center should acquire a microcomputer (personal computer) to serve 3 main functions:
    • modeling educational applications for students and faculty
    • modeling administrative applications for students and faculty
    • instructional support for faculty and students (via modem access to external databases; capability to perform statistical calculations)
  • A cost estimate for an Apple IIe system including some software, a printer, and a modem was attached, totaling $6,250.
1983 From a document by Cindy Reich, "Tartak Learning Center Summer Report"
  • A cassette duplicating machine and a laminating machine were used heavily.
  • The School of Jewish Communal Service held a program to introduce the Apple Computer and its uses to their summer students.
1983 From a memo from Amnon Dotan to Sara Lee and Lee Bycel labeled "RE: Tartak Learning Center (Summary 1988-1989)"
  • A new machine for copying VHS videotapes was acquired
The theme that I found running through this first decade of the Tartak Center is educational technology. The Tartak Center was proud of its efforts to provide access to hardware and media resources so that its clientele both on-campus and within the community could be more creative in planning learning activities.
~1994 From an undated, unsigned document entitled "Proposal for Tartak Center Restructuring"
  • The role Tartak once played has changed:
    • CAJE, Torah Aura's "Club Ed," and many synagogues have created resource centers or programs that provide service to the off-campus community.
    • The typical Tartak patron is an HUC student who wants to get in and out quickly.
    • Interest in technology is non-existent; interest in "Instant Lessons" and RHSOE student-written materials is high.
1997 From a hard copy of the first Tartak Learning Center (TLC) web page:
  • "In 1997 the TLC underwent a dramatic change and modernization with the computerization of our entire collection and the posting of that collection openly on the World Wide Web."
  • The website at (www.huc.edu/tartak) included these sections:
    • TLC Database: a searchable listing of all Tartak materials, with links to the publisher's website for published items and online forms to request copies of RHSOE materials.
    • Downloadable lessons in a curriculum bank.
    • The "Kibbitz Room" for online discussions on a variety of topics.
1998 From Tikshoret, Eleventh issue, Fall 1998
  • "Announcing a Revolution in Educational Resources"
    Page 8: An article described the recently launched Tartak website. "Tartak On-Line is the culmination of a year-long effort by Rabbinic/Education Student Dan Moskovitz and the students of the HUC LA Campus to catalog and computerize the entire collection of the Tartak Learning Center." (Dan then returned to Cincinnati as a 5th year rabbinical student.)
  • Page 13: In the item congratulating Daniel Moskovitz on becoming Director of Education at the Valley Temple in Cincinnati, it was noted that he remains Director of the Tartak Learning Center "which, through the marvel of technology, he can administer remotely."
During the 1990's, the Tartak Learning Center seemed to be focused on the dual goals of relevance and accessibility. There was a concerted effort to prune obsolete materials and hardware from the collection and to avoid duplicating resources easily available to educators in the field. The decision was made to take advantage of the growing use of personal computers by individuals at home and in their schools/congregations; and to leverage the explosive growth of the internet and on-line communication tools. The Tartak Learning Center's resources were just a mouse-click away.
2002 "Tartak Learning Center Assessment Report" by Tartak Director Jenni Person
  • Page 1. "Now in 2002 the Tartak Center is being evaluated and re-envisioned to assure the greatest possible impact with the most current and useful resources. Further, a plan resulting from this assessment will propel a new Tartak Learning Center into being which engages an expanded constituency of educators and learners in person and in cyberspace (sometimes simultaneously)."
2002 Director Karen Strok begins editing a quarterly newsletter called Mikorot Mitchadshim, (Resources Renewed). From Volume 1, Issue 1 (November 2002):
  • The section labeled "Editors Extras" on page 4 has an article about the name of the newsletter:
    "The word 'Mikorot' means one of two things: (1) in a Jewish context, the word means classical texts; or (2) in modern Hebrew, it means sources, or where something comes from. The word 'Mitchadshim' means something that undergoes a continual process of renewal. The Tartak is a place where we take classical texts and ideas and we see how we can make them meaningful to us and to our learners. The alliteration of the 'mem' arouses images of 'mayim,' of the source for sustaining all life. As Jewish professionals, we draw from classical sources to both sustain and renew our commitment to education."
2003 Excerpts from notes of brainstorming sessions 12/1/02 and 1/3/03 with Karen Strok and Gregg Alpert (National Director of Distance Education):
  • There are copyright issues with placing published materials online.
  • Should funding for the VRC (Virtual Resource Center) be by subscription? If so, by individuals or institutions?
2003 Volume 2, Issue 1 (October 2003) of Mikorot Mitchadshim, edited by Director Andrea Fleekop:
  • "Director's Extras" on page 4 announces the launch of the (revamped) website at www.huc.edu/tartak.
2004 Tikshoret Twenty-Fourth issue, Winter 2004
  • "Update from the Tartak Learning Center, HUC-JIR, Los Angeles" by Andrea Fleekop. An article on starting on page 11 reports on the relocation of the Center from the basement level to the Mercaz, familiar to many as the former Skirball space. The website is also promoted.
2005 From Volume 4, Issue 2 (December 2005) of Mikorot Mitchadshim, edited by Lynn Flanzbaum:
  • Page 4: "Director's Extras" mentions increased Tartak traffic since the dedication of the Lainer Beit Midrash (in the Mercaz) in September 2005. Tartak was repainted when the Mercaz was refurbished.
The themes for the first part of this decade through today might be visibility and publicity. The Tartak Learning Center moved to the ground level from the basement of the building. New bookshelves, easy-to-read shelf labels, inventory lists, comfortable seating, a spinning video/DVD display rack, and a supply of pretzels and sweets all help to make the space easy to navigate and enticing to visit. Orientation sessions are held for new students in all programs, and the Tartak Learning Center began hosting holiday resource drives (where materials are collected and distributed) and lunchtime learning sessions on a variety of topics. The Tartak Learning Center's collection was added to the HUC library catalog and circulation system, making our materials visible to library searchers in-house and on-line. Lists of our student-written curricula and curriculum guides were compiled and were distributed at the NATE conference in 2004. (Updated versions are on the website.)

What comes next? My predecessors will recognize the issues with which we continue to wrestle. How can we promote the Tartak Learning Center more effectively on the other campuses? What should our Virtual Resource Center (VRC) look like? What types of resources should be available, and in what format? Who is our likely user? Should access be restricted? What about copyright restrictions?

The Tartak Learning Center is unique in that it's the only repository of student-written curricula and curriculum guides, so our initial efforts will focus on these materials. We've created a "profile" document that all students complete as they submit their guides. This profile can be the foundation of the search capability of the VRC, because almost every line on the form can be used to filter the database.

Students submit their guides and profiles on CD when they submit the hard copies, to ease the creation of electronic versions of the documents. As we proceed, these profile sheets and excerpts from the guides will be available online. In a later stage of the project, we can create profiles for guides submitted in earlier years; expanding the pool of materials in the VRC. It's an ambitious project, and would be impossible to undertake without the guidance and wisdom of Gregg Alpert and his team in the Distance Education Department.
(Last updated: November, 2006)

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