Comments about ‘Technology in seminary: Is it enhancing or distracting the experience?’

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Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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dlw7
LOGAN, UT

Technology is wonderful, but it's hard to feel the same spirit when testimonies are borne in person, you can look in that persons eyes and know that they know. An electronic devise will never take the place of a teacher who knows you and is concerned about you and electronic scripture will NEVER take the place of mine with all the marking and notes I have scribbled in them. Technology is wonderful, but will not replace people.

jazzbird
Brigham City, UT

The Mormon Message, "Things As They Really Are" by Elder David A. Bednar is timely and telling. I love the image of putting the cell phone down, and getting the scriptures out. Seminary students are wonderful, but easily distracted. Institute students do not need technology expectations in the classroom. They are self-enrolled, and self-disciplined.

I have asked that all of my students focus on the text (scriptures) and text messages from heaven (personal inspiration) and put technology texting and other distractions completely away. 90% of them seem very grateful for the opportunity to focus. The other 10% tolerate it. I give parents an option to write and explain their student's needs and why they would need technology in class, and so far, out of about 200 parents, none of them have responded negatively.

I feel that technology is important in teacher presentation, but student discussion, a distraction-free environment, and mission preparation demand that we consider a technology free student for the time being. (At least until missionaries are allowed/trusted to use I-pad's). For now, I want to train my students to use the text that they will be using as a missionary.

Adina
Gig Harbor, Pierce, WA

The seminary teachers in our building (four classes) have been excited to have the increased resources, but we struggle with not enough bandwidth to show anything from the internet, no projectors at all, let alone in any rooms and antiquated TVs (not flat screens) that lack the needed connectors for computers etc and have gradually become mostly non-functional either in sound or functional connectors.
We understand that funds are limited so that equipment can't be maintained or upgraded, but it is frustrating to plan media enrichment to lessons and then struggle and use up class time trying to get the equipment needed to work, and even end up not being able to use the material after all. We are in the Pacific Northwest, and pretty tech savvy, so it is frustrating. I look forward to a future when we will be able to utilize the great resources being made available.

Flor Alba Rivera
Edinburg, TX

I am a Seminary teacher and we had to prohibit Ipods, tablets, etc, because we caught seminary students looking other things rather than the scriptures. Indeed, they are easily distracted. Books are the best.

SLC345
SLC, UT

I don't want to see technology in seminary or at church. Most of the time throughout all meetings I see people on facebook or websites. Very distracting from the spirit of the meeting.
It is like watching sheep zone out.
Very sad. I Hope they don't use technology as conference attenders.

Adina
Gig Harbor, Pierce, WA

As far as the personal electronics, our seminary policy is none for the students. It's too hard for them to resist texting, browsing, etc. I collect them on a regular basis in a basket they can pick up from when they leave.
Our Bishopric also made a decision to ban them for Sacrament meeting. Too many are unable to keep out of texting, reading, game playing, browsing, etc. We can use for Sunday School and third hour though, and I love being able to instantly download manuals and bring up talks and articles being used for the lesson. The church apps are very fast for accessing and downloading content, and I like being able to highlight and make notes and have them sync across other devices. I think we need self-discipline, but overall technology is a real addition to classes and meetings.

@Charles
not from utah, 00

Your bishopric "banned" them from Sacrament meeting? That's comical since that sort of thing is way outside their scope. Talk about control freaks.

Steven11421
AUSTIN, TX

Hello people! The year is 2013! If you 'ban' something the youth (and adults) will ignore you.

Teach them correct principals and let them govern themselves.

I'm not a seminary teacher, but I am a Dad of 5 youth and a YM leader. As I have embraced the technology available with "Come, Follow Me", the YM classes have become much more spiritual. Because of technology use my Young Men understand the Atonement better than before.

I hope Seminary catches up with the format set forth for the Sunday Youth lessons. If they don't, they will struggle to keep the youth active.

The Lord gave us this technology - why would we not embrace it to strengthen our youth's testimonies.

Bro Simon Says
RIVERTON, UT

I have taught release-time Seminary and Institute for 12 years. My graduate work in Educational Psychology included a lot of material on educational technology. I conducted a study last year (2012) on the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) in Seminary, and I have written a subjective analysis to help others who are considering incorporating student-enabled technology in the classroom. A link to my report is found on my blog (http://brosimonsays.wordpress.com) under the Professional Papers tab.

Bro Simon Says
RIVERTON, UT

I have taught release-time Seminary and Institute for 12 years. My graduate work in Educational Psychology included a lot of material on educational technology. I conducted a study last year (2012) on the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) in Seminary, and I have written a subjective analysis to help others who are considering incorporating student-enabled technology in the classroom. A link to my report is found on my blog (http://brosimonsays.wordpress.com) under the Professional Papers tab.

Jeff@mountainridge
Gilbert, AZ

Regarding, "I hope Seminary catches up with the format set forth for the Sunday Youth lessons. If they don't, they will struggle to keep the youth active."
1) I don't believe in-class internet access is the point of "Come Follow Me." It's just the delivery method the Church is choosing with increasing frequency for a number of reasons, inlcuding:
-cost savings (all those mauals they don't have to print and ship);
-flexibility (adjustments can be made to curriculum without having to reprint and redistribute).
The format, in a nutshell, is that a teacher uses the available online resources to thoroughly prepare himself/herself and follows the Spirit in the classroom as he invites the students to learn, not that students and teacher surf the web together for relevant material.
2) Youth today love to feel the Spirit and want to learn the Gospel. As long as they're helped to do this by a loving, well-prepared teacher, they'll become and remain active and diligent learners. This has been the focus in seminary for some time now, and it's working.

Poqui
Murray, UT

"I hope Seminary catches up with the format set forth for the Sunday Youth lessons. If they don't, they will struggle to keep the youth active."

@Steven11421 - The Sunday School curriculum, "Come Follow Me", is based on the seminary and institute teaching model that has been in place for many years, not vice-versa. S&I has encouraged student participation in the lessons for many years now. The teacher has taken the role of a guide, not a "sage-on-a-stage" as in years past. And yes, technology is very appropriate in some circumstances, even in the classroom.

LydiaS
West Bloomfield, MI

@Adina
I am a seminary teacher in Michigan. I also have a problem with old TVs in our building that don't support technology. I purchased a computer program that allows me to burn DVDs with mormon messages and any video segments that I can download from lds.org. It has been great! The youth love using the short videos in their devotionals, they invite the Spirit, and are very useful for teaching the Gospel. It takes a bit more time to prepare, but I usually put 30-36 short videos on each disc, so the time invested pays off in the long run. It is also nice to have a reliable technology that doesn't ever freeze or buffer.

Wiscougarfan
River Falls, WI

I am a former release-time seminary instructor and current stake seminary and institute teacher. I am also a university professor in educational technology, teaching elementary and secondary education majors how to use technology effectively in their classrooms.
Here's my two bits... Technology in church has always been a pet peeve of mine, not because it isn't useful--it most certainly can be--but because of the distraction aspect of having a device on. It can be distracting for the user, but even if it isn't, it is almost certainly distracting to at least one person in the room. This is a generational issue, where many who did not grow up with personal electronic devices are simply annoyed when they are used, especially in spiritual settings. This has personally been difficult for me as the church has increasingly used technology in teaching. All I can say is this... while the use of multimedia has certainly helped in certain situations, nothing beats a good old fashioned testimony, and you don't need any tech for that.

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