Ideas for Gospel Instruction

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
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Ideas for Gospel Instruction

Postby dennisn » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:04 am

It somewhat amazes me that, with all the technological advances of the last few decades, our Sunday School, Priesthood, Relief Society, Primary, AP, and YW classes are still conducted using, principally, a printed lesson manual and a chalkboard, with the occasional picture or brief video. Here are a few ideas for improvements: At a one time cost of a few hundred dollars per classroom, each
chapel can be equipped with a small netbook laptop, attached to a low end projector. These could be kept in the meetinghouse library or some safe place when not in use. Lessons can be prepared in the form of a combination of powerpoint slides, jpeg images, and short video / audio clips. The slides can include scriptural passages, references from the study aids, and, most importantly - discussion stimulating questions. The instructor's role would be, with the guidance of the Spirit, to select which slides to hide, which optional slides to include, to moderate / lead discussions, answer questions, and to move on to the next slide after a question or comment or discussion time has completed. Basically, to moderate the class's learning experience, and give the Spirit the opportunity to bear witness.

Some advantages to this idea are:
* multi-media lessons involve more of the physical senses,
improving learning and retention
* avoids heavy printing costs
* lesson updates / corrections are much easier. They can be
downloaded from a webpage on the website at any time.
In locations without reliable internet. they can be downloaded
via a 56K modem and a phone line or sent by mail on a CD or
thumb drive.
* new, midyear lesson could be provided to wards / branches in
response to current events or special local needs.
* the church curriculum department could provide several
age group-tailored versions of the same lesson by simply
selecting which slides to include or hide, while still leaving
final decisions to local leaders and class instructors, under the
guidance of the spirit
* it would also be easier to provide lessons tailored to the local
culture in various parts of the world
* Several years worth of lessons can be kept on the hard drive of
a laptop. Thus, the idea adapts well to places in the world
where internet access is undependable or non-existent.
* Without a projector, lessons can still be accessible to small
groups or even to individuals who are in a part of the world
where there are no organized wards or branches, via the
netbook's computer screen.
* The software costs could be very minimal as it could all be
accomplished using the Linux operating system, the VLC media
player, and the OpenOffice suite (which has a powerpoint
equivalent), all of which are open source.
* hardware costs could be minimized by purchasing in volume,
and perhaps by contracting with a reputable electronics
manufacturer to create a combination netbook / projector
(with all needed software and data files preloaded on the hard
drive) so they need not be purchased separately.
* A pilot test could be done, using this method of classroom
instruction for 3 - 6 months in a few selected stakes in order
to get feedback from local leaders, auxiliary heads,
experienced classroom instructors, etc. and to flush out
any unanticipated details / issues.

If anyone reading this has any contacts in the church curriculum department, I'd appreciate you passing the idea on to the appropriate people there.


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Postby JamesAnderson » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:49 am

Some things are already available.

Course materials for the Young Men/Young Women already incorporate updates each year. You'll find the updates beside the printed text in the .pdf versions of those manuals, namely the ones for 2012.

As to A/V resources, the Doctrine and Covenants and Old Testament DVD sets released the last two years have a large quantity of video material, along with several hundred slides and graphics for many lessons. For example, there's a slide where you can show Noah's Ark, and its estimated modern equivalnt length, alongside several modern ships to show a general comparison of them.

There are also slides that ask a question, then a click of the remote brings up the question with the answer. There are also quotes, etc., as well.

Some of the materials are not available to go online due to rights issues. But some is online.

The Roku and Western Digital boxes are already being tested, they would do largely the same thing as a laptop in developed areas, a laptop with the material downloaded or transferred to it from other media would still work in undeveloped areas.

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Postby dannykos » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:46 am

Sorry - you lost me at Powerpoint :)

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Postby gregwanderson » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:02 am

Our building's library is terribly outdated. I'm sure that at least half the stuff in there is just taking up space and doesn't see any use for months or years at a time. So I'm wondering if anyone knows what is typically provided in a brand new building (starting from scratch and not inheriting anything from another building). Do new buildings have white boards or chalk boards? What do they have in terms of DVD players, flat screen monitors and projectors? How many DVD players and monitors in one building?

In our building nobody uses the church's DVD sets or other electronic media because we only have one DVD player and it's hooked up to a 13-inch TV/VCR combo player. Not too useful in a large classroom. The library has one large TV which is so old that it only has a two-screw antenna input (without the coaxial antenna input and certainly without white-and-yellow RCA inputs). That large TV, on a rolling cart, also has an absolutely ancient, top-loading VCR.

So here's my other question: How do I (currently a ward executive secretary) demand an update through the proper channels? And can I make demands (to the FM office?) based on what is typically available elsewhere? Can some of you, for example, tell me how many DVD players you have and can I use that as leverage with the FM people?

My wife is an elementary school teacher. While she really prefers white boards over chalk boards, she concedes that the dry erase markers, when used on anything other than a white board, can cause just as much damage as any "permanent" marker and this could spell disaster in a church where children are wandering around. It doesn't take long for an unattended child to cause a lot of damage.

I also wonder about how all of this technology will sit with those who are great teachers (some senior citizens I could name around here) but who have no computer skills and would fail miserably trying to incorporate multimedia into their lessons.

According to my wife, the most effective tool is a book in the student's hands so that they can follow along. Personally, I enjoy following along with the Gospel Doctrine lesson using the teachers manual on an iPad. I can easily go to the scriptures and back. To me, it's a lot more engaging than spending lots of time turning paper pages trying to keep up (and thinking about turning pages instead of getting right to the text).

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Postby aebrown » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:18 am

mrrad wrote:So here's my other question: How do I (currently a ward executive secretary) demand an update through the proper channels? And can I make demands (to the FM office?) based on what is typically available elsewhere? Can some of you, for example, tell me how many DVD players you have and can I use that as leverage with the FM people?

First of all, I might try an approach a bit more diplomatic than making demands. But the proper channel is to work with the stake PFR, who is the stake's liaison with the FM group. He can consult with the FM group and gain an understanding of what the standard equipment for a building should be, replacement cycles, etc.
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Postby dennisn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:34 pm

Just in case the lingo confuses some: The stake PFR (physical facilities representative) is often a member of the high council. In any case, your bishop or ward high council rep should be able to tell you who it is.

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Postby dennisn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:44 pm

The point of using powerpoint (no pun intended) is:
1. while it takes some expertise to create one, it takes almost none to use one.
about all you need to know is: Hit the space bar to advance to the next screen.
2. You need neither a whiteboard nor a blackboard (additional cost savings in new buildings
3. It helps keep the class on track and moving in the right direction
4. Its a big aid for substitute teachers
5. It saves time flipping back and forth through a manual, losing and finding your place,
looking up scriptures (put them on a slide and let the whole class read/see them at
6. all the time saved in this procedural / manual stuff allows more time for classroom
discussion of meaningful questions, and that is where the real payback is -- getting
the gospel into our hearts and minds.

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Postby russellhltn » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:55 pm

I'd like to see what the PowerPoint for Teaching no greater call: Lesson 3: Teach by the Spirit would look like.
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Postby dennisn » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:16 pm

I welcome the opportunity to present an example of this idea, especially as I sense some resistance to it on the part of other readers of the thread. A clear, concrete example would be an excellent way to clarify the concept. I've been a little busy with other things the last few weeks, but thought I would sit down today and start working on your suggestion. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find the lesson you are referring to. On the website, Teaching, No Greater Call, Lesson 3 is
"The Teacher's Divine Commission". ( If you could confirm that this is the lesson you want me to do, or provide a URL link to the correct one, I'd appreciate it. Thanks, Russell.

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Postby johnshaw » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:39 pm

The ideas expressed are excellent, however, which class are you talking about? You seem to be referring to 'the' class, the issue becomes, where does it start and end.... Gospel Doctrine, Essentials, 12,13,14,15,16,17 - What about YW Beehives, Mia Maids, Laurels, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, EQ, HPGL, RS, Primary 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 - that is alot of computers and a lot of overhead projectors..... I guess I'm being a bit silly, but if you provide it for one, do you provide it for all?

As for a new building.. I just got one, I can tell you what we got:

1 32 LCD TV w/ DVD/VCR combo - per building
1 Small LCD TV/DVD combo unit - per unit (we have 3 wards, so we got 3 of them)
3 projectors (2 I'm assuming for broadcasts (chapel and cultural hall) 1 for a traveiling usage
4 epson movie-mate projectors (1 per designated seminary room)
1 additional dvd/vcr combo unit

Each room designated as a seminary room received a nice panel chalk board, and a pull-down screen for projecting an image.

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