Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

The other day I was searching for a YouTube video that would focus on today’s Digital Kids.  Here’s what I discovered?

I must admit, I watched this video several times.  Why?  I’ve met young people in the parish and in the family and I’m aware of how “digital” they are.  However, this video really got the point across that today’s kids (in general) are immersed in the digital world?  (Of course, there will always be exceptions).

I love the question at the end – Are we ready for them? Now, if Best Buy can ask this question because they are wondering if Best Buy will be ready for the next generation of gadgets boys and girls will want; then we need to ask – Are we ready to teach the faith to this emerging DIGITAL generation?

Perhaps the importance of this question, becomes clearer with the work that Ian Jukes is involved with.  I love the opening line of a recent book he co-authors, Teaching the Digital GenerationWe wrote this book because it is vitally important that education respond to the drastic changes taking place across the globe. I am of the opinion, that how we engage students in learning their faith in the 21st century will require that we are comfortable with their digital world and that we can engage them – when appropriate – with their tools!

This next video is a bit long, but worth every minute.  Listen now to Ian Jukes (an educational evangelist) as he speaks about understanding the Digital Generation:

I know I keep saying, after being in a classroom with today’s students – especially at the junior and senior high level – They are different! Their speaking DFL (Digital First Language) and our speaking DSL (Digital Second Language) is part of today’s challenge.

  • How are everyday educators dealing with this changing student?
  • Where are some best practices?
  • When we talk about 21st Century learning, what do mean?
  • What does it look like?
  • What happens in the classroom?

Let’s listen to a description by Lisa Short who demonstrates how she teaches.

As we ponder how we might teach in this evolving 21st Century environment, What will be the “best practices” of the 21st Century catechist?  How will technology transform our faith teaching?  If you are a “pioneer” in this area, would you be willing to share your story?

If you “like” this post, remember to click on the [like] icon below. 

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Comments on: "The Future of the 21st Century Catechist: How Technology May Transform our Faith Teaching" (7)

  1. Thank you for the blog. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of diversity of young people. Can you direct me to sociological data for digital use among those kids who do not live a middle to upperclass suburban lifestlye? Is the digital divide growing faster and wider?

  2. Hi Cami, Great question! As a fairly “young field” the research in the areas of educational technology is still evolving. A 2004 Journal of Research in Technology in Education article focused on “Research Priorities in Educational Technology: A Delphi Study” ( describes how this research may be progressing. Notice Table 7.

    Here are additional research findings –

    Kaiser Family Foundation: Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds –

    Edutopia – Digital Generation Projects –

    MacArthur Foundation – Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture : Media Education for the 21st Century –

    Pew Internet Research group – A Portrait of “Generation Next” –

    Yes, the digital divide is a concern. I wonder how faith-based institutions will be involved in addressing this issue! Will churches have available labs where parish members who do not have access to the Internet will have access and training? How will libraries serve this population? Will the growth of mobile devices assist in bridging the divide?

    I’m sure that many of us are beginning to wrestle with these issues?

  3. Its funny how I started writing – and erased it, because one question nagged at me. WHY do kids need all this?
    It does not promote good values or morales…. they don’t seem much different than the teens we used to be – just HOW they get what they want and don’t good parents make sure their kids have “everything”. I agree with Cami… we have to stop comparing ourselves with “well to do” (teens in this case) AND in general. That is a dream world, which only seems to promote the “me” attitude – and instant gratification… so are we being good leaders and examples with today’s youth? We CAN use technology for good things.. we need to make sure they learn that. Can Block Buster keep up with THEIR needs… these aren’t needs. Why do we always think technology is GOOD… some cases, it takes away WHO we are – and all the values that make us good Catholics- puts pressure on parents to make sure their kids keep up with the “world” – so they can be successful… I think I’ve seen enough of what our society considers successful… we need to regain some dignity here and become more responsible leaders to today’s youth – and teach them how to be better drivers too :- )
    Sorry – I may be way off base with “today’s” thinking.. but I just see what I see…. I am a parent and grandparent – and it really scares me about today’s value’s or lack of…and my grandparents thought the same of us… we just keep going downhill, when do we hit rock bottom?

  4. Jeanne, a challenging question – WHY do kids need all this?

    Technology is simply a tool – just as a car is a tool, an airplane a tool, etc. In and of themselves – they are not moral or have a lack of morals. They are simply tools!

    It is our use of these tools that creates the value or non-value. As we all learned from 9/11, an airplane can become a major tool of destruction and death. Or it can be a tool to bring us from one place to another to serve our brothers and sisters or to visit family and friends.

    That is the case in today’s technology – cell phones, net books, iPads, iPhones, computers, whiteboards, or whatever – they are simply tools! We need to decide how to use the tools wisely and for the purpose of guiding our Digital Natives to use them to evangelize and to share the Gospel with others. If we do not figure out how to do this, our Digital Natives will figure out how to use them in ways that we do not approve!

    The dignity you call for, needs to happen with 21st Century tools and concepts! And the longer we sit back and criticize the further away our Digital Natives get from us and the Church.

    There are many, many Vatican documents that call us to become more literate in the areas of media, technology, and the Internet. Are we listening to what Rome is calling us do in this ever evolving and changing Digital world? Are we good Catholics if we ignore what these documents invite us to do with the tools that are part of today’s culture?

    Go to pages 5-7 of the Faith-Based Projects: 21st Century Communication and Collaboration. There is a summary of the available documents.

  5. angela ann zukowski said:

    Nice job, Carolyn! Good information!

  6. angela ann zukowski said:

    Today during the FORUM we are covering Digital Catechesis. I have some new approaches I am introducing to the students to see how they respond. It should be interesting! Have a great weekend!

  7. Angela, would love to hear more about what is happening in the FORUM today! Perhaps your students would enjoy contributing to the conversation!

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