What began as a Jewish knowledge competition for secondary schools has led to the creation of a new online course covering Jewish practice, values, history and Israel.
Beat the Clock is the brainchild of Rabbi Jonny Goodman, a Jewish studies teacher at the King David High School in Manchester.
The first BtC event took place at King David in 2016, when teams of year-sevens from different schools had to complete a number of tasks which tested their Jewish knowledge.
But over the past year he has developed a spin-off digital vehicle which offers a foundation course in Judaism.
“This is the future not only of Jewish learning but learning per se,” Rabbi Goodman said.
“I was looking forward to create a model that was exciting and engaging. We have taken the element of competition and brought it throughout the academic year.”
After each section of knowledge, students take a quiz to see how much they have learned, earning points to compete in a national league table with peers in other schools
At the same time, it has a learning management system which enables teachers to monitor progress at every step.
Students can log in when they want and work at their own pace as well as in their own time.
The course is divided into six units and each unit is sub-divided into various topics. The unit on the synagogue and the home has 11 topics which include prayerbooks, the mezuzah and kashrut.
It uses videos such as one which shows what the Temple would have looked like to illustrate the relationship between Temple and synagogue.
At the end of each topic, the children take one of a variety of tests and then another at the end of the unit. “When they finished the unit, we can give them a bonus quiz. They can retake the quizzes a second time so if they haven’t given it their best first time, they get another try.”
The first three units have already been taken up by hundreds of students in several schools and the full six will be available in autumn.
While the competitive will relish the chance to come top of a national competition, it is not only high achievers who will be recognised. Since the programme allows teachers to see how much time a student is spending, they will have “the opportunity to reward those who put most effort into navigating through it rather than how well they have done”.
He created the course with a graphic designer and with consultant Hayley Simon, who taught at Yavneh College, using £5,000 from a Pajes education award to kick-start it.