How can technology further the mission of a Christian school? Digital tools are part of the landscape, so here are some observations of how they might be best used in the classroom.
“It’s not that I know how to do it. It’s that I have the tools to figure it out,” Carmen Yagow says about using technology in the classroom. Carmen serves as a fourth-grade teacher at Our Savior’s Lutheran School in Springfield, Illinois, where every child has access to a Chromebook.
Her growth mindset is invaluable as a teacher. It’s how she’s equipping her students to thrive in a digital world.
Technology Is a New Student Language
“When I started teaching ten years ago, students were mesmerized by technology in the classroom—by a simple SMART Board that I could click on. Now, it’s old news to them. They’re so versed in technology, it’s a second language for them,” Carmen says.
The advancement of technology continues to radically shape society, and that includes its impact on the education system and students.
“Phones and devices are put into their hands as babies, so it’s just a language they speak,” Carmen says.
The job of teachers is to help their students learn how to use technology productively and safely. Along with teaching traditional academic subjects, teachers like Carmen are also helping students develop skills to navigate the digital landscape. They’re growing competencies like how to evaluate a website and determine its credibility and teaching social skills on how to respectfully agree and disagree with peers through a secure, online classroom portal. Imagine the positive influence young people could have in modeling for the rest of us what it looks like to have respectful interactions online!
Perhaps more than anything, technology in the classroom gives students increased ownership over their education. They can explore more and go deeper on topics of interest—and through learning styles that fit their needs. Gone are the days of limited teaching methods, mainly through auditory learning. Now a lecture can happen alongside other modalities like video, artwork, music, and personalized projects.
Digital Community Works in a Pinch
The use of technology in the classroom has also supported students in the faith. When Our Savior’s was closed during the pandemic, chapel time went from a school-wide assembly to a more intimate class-wide prayer-and-discussion time. Students could share how they were doing both on video calls and in response to written discussion posts, and then pray for one another. In this way, Carmen could engage both extroverted and introverted students—those who prefer to talk out their feelings and those who best process their thoughts by writing them out.
Creating a space and means to connect interpersonally allowed students to go deeper with one another and share honestly about the challenges they experienced. We see this same intimacy in many of Paul’s letters when he could not be present with the congregations but opened his heart in writing (Romans 1:11; Galatians 1:6–8; 1 Thessalonians 3:1–5).
After each faith conversation, Carmen posts supporting videos and resources on the school’s student portal. It’s been encouraging to see her students go back and rewatch the videos again and again. On top of that, students are sharing what they’re learning with their parents! Technology has equipped her students to bear witness to their faith at home with their family members as they model what’s been shared with them in their digital classroom.
Faithful Technology Use Increases Learning’s Scope
Carmen also notes that “the wealth of information the kids have is very eye-opening for them.” Because access to information is easily available from their tablet or phone, they’re much more informed about current events. With that information comes an increase in awareness of the brokenness and pain of this world. But rather than pretending the realities of sin don’t exist, this, too, serves as an opportunity to engage students and help them develop a biblical worldview with Christ at the center of everything.
“The world has changed. Education has changed. Kids have changed. We need to meet them where they are,” Carmen says.
That means making the classroom a safe space so they can talk about the brokenness they see, affirm the emotions they feel, and take these burdens to the foot of the cross.
Because ultimately, it’s not knowing how to encounter every situation in life before it comes; it’s having the tools to figure it out. And with a Christ-centered education, students are being equipped through today’s technology to tackle anything that comes their way.
CPH’s new Enduring Faith ® Religion Curriculum is full of digital tools to help you teach about Jesus Christ!