Bible Teaching Methods: Methodology for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers
This Month's Bible Teaching Method:
Using computers, tablets, or smartphones as a teaching method takes their use beyond the audiovisual presentation of material to allowing students to use it interactively for research and knowledge enhancement through project development and Bible games, apps, or other programs.
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Tips for Choosing & Using Methods
Whether or not you can use this methodology with your class will depend on the number of devices you have. Figure on no more than 2-3 students at a PC or laptop and 1-2 at smaller devices. If the class is larger than this ratio, you could divide the class into smaller groups and utilize a rotation process wherein some students work on the computer project while other students work on something else. In this case, you may need to recruit extra help to monitor the various activities.
You will need computers (PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, or a combination of these), software or apps, and possibly headphones or earbuds, printers, and paper.
While you can use computer technology to help students with rote memorization and acquisition of knowledge, you can also use it to take them to higher levels of learning by asking them to research and come up with a plan. It's a good tool for reinforcing content learned through other methods.
The public school system has been using computer technology for quite some time. Church education usage is becoming increasingly more popular.
Proximity of others
Closeness to others should not be a problem. If you are close to another group or within the same classroom as other students, headphones or earbuds can be used to keep noise to a minimum. If you have 2-3 students per device, the volume would increase as there would undoubtedly be talking among the students as well as possible computer sounds.
Initial costs could be great if you need to purchase the equipment. You can ask people within your church to donate older devices but often those are so outdated that they cannot effectively run newer software programs or apps. If too slow, children particularly, but even adults, may become frustrated or bored. Look for devices capable of being upgraded and decide if upgrading them is cost effective. Also consider compatibility factors. In addition to the devices, you might need to budget for new software or apps.
Depending on its use and the programs you have, you may find some benefit on the preschool level but using computer technology as a teaching method will be most effective with grade school children and youth. Adults will also benefit in using it for research or to develop projects.
Using computer technology in the teaching process can be a combination of an impressional and expressional means of learning. If used for a group project, it could lead to some dialog among the group members as well.
The time element will depend on its use. Research and project development could easily take most of the class time. Bible learning games would not normally take the entire class time. You will need to set time limits and boundaries, particularly with children playing games, or it will quickly consume all of your time.
Openness of group
Children and youth would undoubtedly welcome this type of methodology. Some adults who are not as computer literate may have reservations. Some parents and church leaders may question the appropriateness of using computer technology in church education. You may need to convince them of its value.
Many churches cannot afford to put computers in every classroom or tablets in every student's hands. A computer room may therefore be set up and the various classes may have to sign up for its use. The size of the room will depend on the number of computers you hope to set up. Or, teachers may need to sign out portable devices for use in their classrooms.If locating computers in a classroom, it could take a good amount of space if using PCs as they would need to be set up on tables or desks with space for possibly 2-3 students to sit around one computer and possibly a work area for other materials. You would have greater flexibility with laptops. Just how much space would depend on the number of computers and size of the class. Depending on how frequently you would use this method, you might have either a permanent or portable setup.The use of tablets or smartphones will not take extra classroom space or require a separate room.
To use computer technology effectively as a method, you need the following elements:
- Preparation: The first step in preparing to use computer technology in the classroom is to set up the computers and choose software programs or apps appropriate to the age level and objectives of your lessons. Always test your equipment and preview your programs before using them in the classroom. You need to be able to answer any questions your students may have and/or discover any glitches. Second, recruit any extra help you may need to provide sufficient guidance to your students. While you may want someone with technical understanding, remember that you also want people who are going to be able to provide spiritual input and insights, helping your students to understand not just how to use the program or app but also how the lesson's truth fits into what they are doing. Third, be prepared for technical difficulties. Have a back-up plan rather than consume precious class time trying to fix the problem.
- Coordination: If your church has a computer room that must be shared with other classes, be sure to sign-up for it well enough in advance to secure its use for when needed. This means you must at least preview your teaching material to know when computer technology would be a good method to employ. You may need to purchase software or apps or develop a program or plan that fits your content. You may need to recruit someone with computer knowledge to assist you. Allow sufficient time for this. Or, if you're using a rotation schedule with computers as one of the stations, realistically choose projects or games according to time, age level, and teacher-student ratio. You may frustrate students if you get them involved in something they can't possibly finish or if they cannot go far enough into a game.
- Integration: Using computer technology as a teaching method should not be an end in itself. What students do should fit into your lesson plan. Their use should be supplemental, enhancing what you are learning, never replacing the use of the Bible. Computer use should not merely be a time filler or a way to attract students. Use games and projects that are relevant to the content and objectives of your lesson. Remember that communicating God's Word should always have priority over the medium. Do not lose focus on your purpose.
- Variation: While children particularly will want to spend their time playing games, avoid overusing any one way. Be creative in the way you use this methodology. Computers can also be used for historical or archaeological research, study of Scripture using commentaries and dictionaries in a Bible program or website, making maps or timelines, developing a slide show presentation or story books of the Bible story, quizzing, tutorials, for service projects (i.e. making cards to encourage people), plus many other possibilities.
- Interaction: Using computer technology should never be a substitute for teacher to student interaction or student to student interaction. The church is about body life, not isolationism. Incorporate shared experiences or working together on projects. Discuss what they are learning. Use guided conversation to help them in their understanding of not just what they are doing on their devices but also how what they are learning applies to life.
(Last updated 12/01/17)