Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Have you ever stopped to think about what will be different in catechesis as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Yes  – reading materials will become more digital.  The recent NEWSWEEK announcement – that they will be ALL DIGITAL beginning January 14, 2013 – is just the tip of the iceberg.  As we ponder what this means for catechesis, lets use our imagination.  I encourage you to add to the conversation with your own insights and options.

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To begin, let’s get ready for the future.  You are the catechist and I will be a Digital Native.  So the Digital Native will use a laptop, tablet or smartphone and the catechist will use paper and pencil.  Let’s describe what can happen in this ever evolving world.  Are you ready?

  • I will immediately Google up-to-date information about my church – you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
  • I will immediately know when I have answered a digital quiz correctly – you have to wait until it’s graded.
  • I will use technology in every aspect of my everyday faith life – following the readings of the day, receiving the Pope’s tweets, following the Vatican YouTube Channel, NCR Online, America.org and more – you will wait a week or two to hear about what’s happening in a published church paper that is losing readership daily.
  • I will create digital posters with photos, images, text and videos – you will still be creating posters with crayons and ink or maybe with butcher paper with check points.
  • I will create prayers, articles and more in a digital format and share these with the world – you will only share yours with the class.
  • I will have 24/7 access to information about my faith through online articles, eBooks or websites like Sacred Space – your information is discovered primarily in books that you have to go to the book store to purchase or when you purchase online you wait for several days for the book to arrive.
  • I will access the most dynamic information with video, sound and more – yours will be printed and photocopied.
  • I will collaborate with my peers from around the world and learn from them what is important about their faith – you will collaborate only with your students in your classroom.
  • I can learn anything I want about my faith anytime and anywhere – you must wait until you read the textbook which may be outdated.
  • I will need to learn how to choose the best information about my Catholic faith tradition as anyone can publish anything at anytime whether it be correct teaching or not – you have had content that is always approved by our bishops via the “imprimatur” and “nihil obstat“.
  • I live in a time where we can learn the best and the worst about my Catholic faith from people of all ages via a variety of electronic means – you will primarily learn your faith from written materials that can be biased or unbiased – depending on the theological perspectives you are exposed to.
  • I will – with my class – interact with our Church leaders (Local Bishop, Parish Pastor, and others) via SKYPE, Facetime, GoToMeeting and other collaborative tools – you will call and make an appointment to meet these same leaders in a Face-to-Face meeting that is scheduled weeks in advance.

I often wonder how our methodology will change in the teaching of our faith to one another.  I see the importance of both face-to-face experiences and the integration of varied technologies in the teaching of our faith to others.  For now – we are Pioneers in a Digital Landscape that changes rapidly around us.

This is why it is important to gather with other pioneers – to learn from one another, to swap success stories (and even to talk about what did not work).  One of the best places to gather is at the annual Interactive Connections Conference that co-locates with the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC).  It is at IC 2013 that we can learn best practices from educators who have been involved in educational technology for over 35 years!

If you’re coming to Orlando – great!  Looking forward to meeting and sharing with you.  If not, I would encourage you to make room in your busy calendar and come.  We need all the pioneers possible to join in this wonderful and challenging endeavor of Sharing the Faith with our ever savvy digital students.

Note:  The list that describes what can happen in this ever evolving world is an adaptation of a list  that was anonymously shared by a student who posted on the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website during the spring of 2003.

Of course, if you like this post, click on the “Like” button.  If you have a comment, I look forward to your participation in the conversation – How do you see our methodology changing as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Comments on: "Learning Faith in a Digital Age" (6)

  1. […] Learning Faith in a Digital Age […]

  2. Pastor Joey, I enjoyed reading your comments about partnering. It does take time to learn how these tools can be used in our faith ministries. One simple step is understanding the tool and knowing how to use it. The other step is to develop your digital mind so that you understand how it can be best integrated into your ministry. The field of “Educational Technology” is a big help in this area. It is a field that is over 35 years old in the USA.

  3. My middle school students are completing online research projects that are integrated with their English and religion classes. They are required to find and use only resources that they can prove are valid, reliable resources. They must evaluate each website using the 5 W’s – See http://rcarrier.edublogs.org/2011/08/09/web-site-evaluation-5ws/ They find this website validation process to be as difficult and more time consuming than writing the final essay.

    • (continuing comment) Providing students online resources expands their thinking beyond the information in textbooks and gives them access to the brightest minds in the world. It deepens their knowledge and understanding. However, when anyone anywhere can publish anything online, teaching students to evaluate information sources to find the most valid and reliable information is an essential life-long skill in this increasingly digital age.

    • Rhonda, I’m delighted to hear that you are guiding your students to learn how to locate valid and reliable resources. That is a valuable skill that all of us need today… as anyone can publish whatever they want at any time – true or not so true!

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