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Our 11th and 12th graders watch a 20 minute presentation on video from a VCR tape as part of their lesson. Our church still has a working VCR player available so this works for us. But three weeks ago the VCR tape broke. I couldn’t order another one and, of course, the VCR tape is no longer being made.  Who knew?  After some research on the Internet, I took the tape apart and I fixed it.

This problem made me think about when and how we use technology in Sunday School. While my church may use a VCR, many congregations have advanced to the DVD.  In Sunday School, DVD’s are used for singing with kids. One Sunday school leader told me that they didn’t have any musicians in their church willing to lead the singing time so they use a DVD. Is that when we should use technology? When we don’t have live people who can do the job?

For us, only the 11th and 12th graders are using it now… but why not at all levels? Is there an age when video instruction is appropriate and an age when it is not? Is it worse to put a video on for 5 year olds than it is for 15 year olds? Is there something about video that makes the teaching non-personal? Is Sunday School a time when kids ought to dis-engage from the technology that is so pervasive in other parts of our lives? Or is it merely a tool that we can and should use to deliver the best instruction possible?

I’d like to hear your comments on this. What is lost when you bring a video into a classroom? What is gained?


Videos have good potential for passive education, but the danger is a lack of active participation by the "watchers".   This lack of active participation reduces the active learning, and also reduces the potential of community building and spiritual growth.  So a good balance needs to be found, with the priority of active participation. 


DVDs used for music might be the only alternative in some cases, but in terms of personal development of the congregation and its members, even poorly played instruments can be superior to dvds.   Sometimes even acapella singing might be preferred, as praising God needs to be done personally, and not left for someone else (such as an impersonal dvd or a hired choir) to do it for you.  

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