Catholic Religious Education goes digital

A new digital interactive Religious Education resource will be introduced in Catholic primary schools around the country in 2010.

It has been designed to supplement the existing Religious Education programme. A sample of lessons from the resource has been sent to schools to allow teachers to familiarise themselves with it.

Religious Education is a major component of the special character of a Catholic school. New Zealand is in the unique position of having one Religious Education curriculum for the whole country. The content is determined by the bishops and their curriculum office the National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS).
Director of NCRS Brother Kevin Wanden FMS says the initiative aims to relate to students’ familiarity with visual digital environments.

“There has been a significant uptake of technology by schools in recent years. Immersion in visual, digital environments is not where children are heading, it’s where they are now,” he says.

“An increasing majority of school children are visual rather than auditory learners. We believe this resource will engage them and in turn stimulate and enliven their faith.”

Primary Schools Support Consultant Anne Kennedy was Editor/Coordinator of the current Religious Education curriculum, developed in the 1990s. She says the new digital resource will provide children with a 21st century way of learning Religious Education.

”Children in our schools now live in a technological world. This resource will offer them opportunities to develop their religious knowledge and attitudes using their technology skills,” she says.

“Many teachers also have well developed IT skills and this resource provides them with a great opportunity to use them in this area of the curriculum which is so central in Catholic schools”.

The interactive DVD also supports digital learning objectives set out by the government.

All lessons for years one to eight are available on the resource. This provides a flexible educational package which will make it easier for teachers to cater to different learning levels.

Archbishop John Dew of Wellington says there will be many benefits for teachers.

“Teachers are busy people. This resource will give them easy access to continually updated material and new methods of teaching Religious Education,” he says.

“The content of the Religious Education curriculum has not changed. The bishops are very happy with the content and are pleased that NCRS has been able to use new technology to engage children with the teaching of the Church”.