Integrating Learning Management Systems in K-12 Supplemental Religious Education

Integrating Learning Management Systems in K-12 Supplemental Religious Education

Dana C. Hackley, Mary Beth Leidman
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4502-8.ch055
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The separation of church and state in the United States brought more reliance on congregations for religious education. As a result, there is a long history of supplemental education within the walls of churches, synagogues, and mosques. However, there is an increasing pressure on American congregations to remain technologically relevant in order to teach digital natives the prayers, traditions, and morals in which their faith is founded and thus continue to grow the community. Yet, in most cases, the integration and adoption of such technology proves exceedingly challenging. The following case study focuses on the challenges specifically faced by Jewish congregational religious schools when adopting e-Learning tools. Discussion encompasses one attempt to integrate the learning management system, Moodle, into a congregational religious curriculum.
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Setting The Stage

Religious entities haven’t been known to readily adopt technology, but rather eliciting a reputation of avoidance. Technology use implies change, which can be worrisome to some or create conflict among congregants. Fear becomes a stumbling block to technology optimization and often the misconception that traditions will be lost stands in the way of embracing the true potential of technology (Sharpe 2004). There is also a concern that computer mediated communication will separate the individual from religion or make it somehow less spiritual (Wyche, Hayes, Harvel & Grinter 2006). But Ayya Gotamī, a Buddhist teacher, asserts technology can in fact enhance spirituality (Gotamī 2010). Gresham (2006) also proposes a, “divine pedagogy” can be utilized or adapted for online instruction or multimedia learning tools in order to maintain the essence of religious education in a changing world.

Everett Rogers’ theory of diffusion of innovations helps to put into context why people within a community may or may not readily adopt a new technology. Rogers (2003) proposed a five-step process contributing to the acceptance of specific technology including knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and conclusion. Rogers (2003) also suggested that there are certain attributes that help decrease uncertainty of innovation: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. Technology adopters were thus classified into five categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards (Rogers 2003).

Meanwhile, the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow Study (1990) also presented five stages of technology adoption, but more specifically with teacher integration in mind. According to ACOT, teachers go through five stages as they incorporate technology into their instruction: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention.

Both of these processes for evaluating the adoption of technology will be utilized within discussion of the following case study. The congregation will serve as the community under evaluation, with religious school instructors as the technology adopters. But first, understanding where the technology currently stands in regards to secular and religious culture is important in order to gain insight.

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