If I felt like a gap existed between myself and the 12-year old that I met back in 1983 in the Radio Shack store, imagine how many of us feel today when we compare ourselves with a Digital Native? Regardless of the gap we feel, it is time to learn more about educational technology. In many ways, even though we may feel like we’re running to catch up, we are at an advantage. Educators all around us are savvy users of educational technology, and we can learn from them! We can learn from their “best practices” and adapt what works to our faith environment.
If you take time to Google “educational technology” you will find helpful background information. Don’t expect to learn all that is possible overnight! Remember, this field of study emerged at the university level about thirty-five to fifty years ago. Many of the degree programs in educational technology began being part of university programs in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Today’s teacher training programs normally require one-course in educational technology. I am not aware of any ministry training programs at the undergraduate or graduate levels with similar requirements. Perhaps, if we want ministers to be savvy users of technology, we will need to train them to use these tools! We need to ask – What is 21st Century Education?
One of the first educational technology conferences began in Florida, known today as the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). Other educational technology conferences are: International Society for Technology and Education (ISTE), Computer Using Educators, Missouri S&T, and TIES 2010 Educational Technology Conference . There are many Ed Tech conferences across the world. Yet, if you explore these programs, we would be hard pressed to find workshops or learning sessions that would interest a religion teacher, a catechist, a youth minister, a pastor, a PCL or DRE. Yes, many of our national organizations have included Ed Tech type of workshops in their programs. But the “energy” that is created at a conference that solely focuses on educational technology is not generated at these conferences.
A couple of videos that offer an overview are:
A Brief History of Technology in the Classroom
and Educational Technology History
These are helpful as they visually remind us that the classroom and teaching has changed! However, most of us who volunteer our time, may not be aware of how this learning world has changed over time. Nor have we been trained to merge new media into our teaching method.
As a result, our parish students come to us from 21st Century classrooms, and many of our environments are very limited in 21st Century tools! I often present workshops at the local or national level. Many of the participants tell me, that their students are bored! However, I also hear from participants who are using 21st century tools, that their students are engaged and enjoy learning about their faith using contemporary methodology.
Today, we need to re-imagine how we do “technology” at the parish and diocesan levels! A little over twenty years ago, many of our Catholic Schools got very involved in creating their technology plans. This planning provided a means for purchasing equipment and a strategy for training administrators, teachers and students to use this equipment in their learning environments. Today, our school people need to lead our parishes in Technology Planning for ALL parish ministries – school, catechetical, youth ministry, young adult, RCIA, and all existing parish ministries. Today’s assumption – All ministers need today’s digital tools!
More importantly, we need to join together to attend conferences like FETC to network and to strategize how we can truly be 21st century catechetical leaders. We need to “walk the walk and talk the talk” of a 21st Century faith leader who remains rooted not only in the values of our faith. How we integrate 21st century tools into our ministries will make a difference with those we share our faith with. Only time will show this to be true!
The question becomes today – How will all ministries and ministers have access to and be trained to use the technologies that are currently evolving today? Perhaps this week’s conversation – Share how your parish is moving into the 21st Century? What are you doing that is bringing new energy and excitement to sharing the faith?
Note: If you are still curious, check out these two websites – National Office of Educational Technology and Teachers Use of Educational Technology in Public Schools (PDF). We begin to see in these documents what is happening all around us.
So, let the conversation begin for this week!
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