Last week we looked at LCD projectors and HDTVs for the digital classroom. Having video capabilities in the classroom is essential for today’s learners. Today we’ll look at ways of maximizing technology for your digital classroom.
Many catechetical publishers now offer digital versions of their textbooks called eBooks. eBooks are an effective way of getting content in the hands of students, parents, and catechists. Depending on your publisher, eBooks are downloadable on a single device or are web-based, offering access from multiple devices with a single license.
eBooks for Students
For students, eBooks can be accessed on mobile devices, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers. These books can be viewed virtually anywhere! Imagine home school families who typically depend on the printed text. With the emphasis on the family, eBooks offer easy access at home through practically any device. For students in the parish or school setting eBooks offer the same access at home or on the go! Whether at home, in the car, or during sessions in the classrom, students can view eBooks before, during, or after the lessons. If you have ever experienced students who leave their books at home, eBooks eliminate this problem by allowing access for at home study but will also be there in the classroom for instruction!
eBooks for Parents
With printed texts, parents could rarely access lesson content as most parish programs do not allow students to take books home (for fear of students remembering to bring them to class. Now parents can access the eBook at any time allowing for better understanding of what their child(ren) are learning. This also promotes communication about lesson content and offers the possibility of adult education.
eBooks for Catechists
Parish catechists and Catholic school teachers benefit from having the eBook as a teaching resource. Pages from the lessons can now be shown on interactive white boards, LCD projectors, and HDTVs during instruction. This is a huge benefit as it is easy to show where we are at in a lesson. Photos and graphics can be enlarged for reference and discussion leading to better comprehension of the lesson topic. eBooks also offer catechists the convenience of not having to transport books thus eliminating extra items in the book bag. Lesson preparation at home becomes as easy as a few clicks or taps on their computers or tablets!
Video has been used for many years in the catechetical classroom. The value and power of video has been recognized and deemed effective. Remember wheeling clunky TV sets around from class to class and cuing VCRs and DVDs? Now it’s never been easier to show video in the classroom! While DVD’s may be suitable for some situations, shorter videos can prompt more dialogue and low for more discussion time. Many Catholic organizations have produced short or segmented videos on all aspects of our faith. These videos can easily be inserted into class sessions for effective learning. Additionally, most video can be found online and accessed by a computer, smartphone, or tablet making access and viewing that much easier. Simply connect your device and press play. By tapping into video, you can easily transform your sessions into meaningful and engaging lessons!
There are many, many apps that are great for the classroom. Apps are applications that can be found in formats for mobile devices on the Apple, Windows, and Android platforms. There are too many to cover here but here are a few must haves:
- iBooks (a place to house eBooks)
- YouTube (for accessing great catholic videos)
- Puffin Browser (enables use of Flash video)
- Notability or other text reader (for writing, highlighting and note taking)
- The Word of Promise Bible (text and dramatic audio features)
- Holy Bible (offers text and video segments)
- Sadlier Rosary App
- Quizlet (for creating or accessing user created quizzes on publisher content)
- RC Calendar (for daily mass readings, daily prayers)
- Laudate (Daily Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, Order of the Mass, Liturgical Calendar, Prayers, Catholic Media, and more)
- FOCUS equip (for audio and video Catholic teachings)
- The PopeApp (Pope tweets, texts of Pope audiences, news, photos, and live webcam views of St. Peter’s Square, Saint JPII’s tomb, Dome of St. Peter’s, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Dome of St. Peter’s)
- Barefoot Atlas (3 dimensional world globe for exploring cities of the world, music, customs, general information)
- Bible Maps PLUS (Maps of the Holy Land with Kingdoms, Physical, Cities, Jerusalem, Journeys, and Timelines views and highlights)
- Keynote (its like PowerPoint for iPad)
In conjunction with Apps, there are even more websites that students, parents, and catechists should be aware of. Many Apps have sister website so if you are not mobile savvy, fear not! Again, an exhaustive list would be impossible but here are some favorites of mine:
Catholic Websites – Information, Video
Christian Websites – Bible, commentaries, saint writings
Textbook Publisher Websites – Handouts, games, activities, eBooks
Research of non-Catholic sites may also be helpful for comparative study. Examples would be other religions and practices, moral issues such as company support for issues not consistent with Catholic teachings, current trends such as support for ALS, and other justice issues. The list goes on!
As you have seen, there is an abundance of Catholic and non-Catholic digital media that lends itself to the world of catechesis.
Call to Action
What has been provided here merely scratches the surface of suitable video, App, and Website resources. In the spirit of learning together, what additional resources do you use that contribute to these suggestions?
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