Note: This HTML document is available online at (part of the Learning area of the Pluralist website, ), where the red coloured links are facilitated.

The Use of ICT in the Teaching of RE

Typical Uses:
ICT Homework, Overhead Projector Transparencies, Videos.
Discussion includes what was not possible due to the school's provision of ICT in the classrooms of Religious Education. No computer was available in the classroom and it was not possible to relocate to an ICT area.

Use of ICT in the first school placement was around the classroom, rather than in it, with the exception of the overhead projector, as a final stage of ICT preparation and delivery, and video.

Video playing had certain mixed motives in use. Television is normally a "sit back" passive medium rather than a "sit forward" active medium, as with a computer. A "sit back" element was observed occasionally in the classroom. This was combined at times with "sit forward" elements. Criticism of me was to let the pupils actually watch the video as it was used most vigorously in a "sit forward" manner.

The video was always taken away before use, timed regarding its identifiable sections, and commentary based worksheets were produced using the timings. On 2nd, 5th and 6th December 25 minutes was alloted to the shorter BBC Hajj video because of the use of my pausing and speaking, and the use of the information sheet. Watching and commentary was followed by the genre-writing of pupils. They created a postcard, as if sent from the Hajj, focussing on the whole of the event or two parts in detail. The video offered technical terms in flashed up writing, but was more valuable in showing pictures of the event. In the classroom and as homework (and some took the option of making the classroom work a design practice for the finished job using graphics from home computers) the work produced showed that a great deal was learnt from the video and additional commentary.Much of the lesson plan follows:

Resources OHP, OHTs, handout of running order and day by day events, textbooks, exercise books, video
Aim of Lesson The Hajj day by day
Objectives (to go on board) Hajj day by day (The student will be able to demonstrate that:) This lesson I learn that:

  • The Hajj includes circling the Ka'ba, hurrying between two hills with encountering the Zam Zam spring, considering everlasting life, asking for forgiveness and praying for everything, stoning the devils, and animal sacrifice.
  • Hajj is physically demanding in hot dry conditions so that the believer learns to endure hardship for Allah.
  • Hajj reminds the believer that Islam is in everything and Makkah is at the geographical centre.
Timing Point (Objective) Task Differentiation (if relevant) Assessment method Resources
10 minutes Objectives

Writing   Checking books Exercise books
5 minutes Overview of Hajj (review) based on questions Question and Answer Participation and quality Who answers and what with Previous week's OHT (not projected but guide)
25 minutes Hajj day by day Plan and watch video, use sheet     Running order notes to all students
10 minutes Day by day appreciation Design and write a postcard to focus on at least 2 days of activities Spread and depth - by outcome: overlap into homework Written result Worksheet sides 1 and 2 - events

On 3rd to 7th February 2003 Channel 4 showed daily under 5 minute slots on the pillars of Islam ahead of coverage of Hajj. This was followed by a documentary of pilgrims preparing to go to Makkah. No doubt many teachers will want to record such material, as it will be of high educational impact, but this raises issues of copyright. The first school practice included emphasis to all staff about observance of copyright laws.

The issue of copyright is why I have produced so many of my own materials. My ICT preparation has been at home. I maintain my own website (writing directly in HTML and avoiding large bloated software) which I have used actively in previous lecturing and study support posts but not for school homework because of potential conflicts with the school's control of materials. When I have referred to websites these have been by other providers and vetted first by me.

Previous study skills and research employment has included user computer maintenance. There has not been the same opportunity in school: timetabling and location constraints (one period per pupil per week in the RE area) prevented active computer work in ICT furnished parts of the school. Interactive wipeboards were available to the language college only.

Therefore, one unrealised use of web pages has been interactivity. It is somewhat frustrating that a simple research tool derived from a web page image map could not be used. This could be put on hard drives. An OHT of the Interactive Hajj, for example, would still mean didactic rather than discovery learning. It reinforces rather than establishes. Interactivity is a good way of producing a research tool where the student looks around and builds the evidence; in this case the Hajj area is shown but the student learns by finding out.

OHTs become somewhat interactive when they are revealed progressively and combined with question and answer. I created an OHT on the Raelians for 9th and 10th January for Year 8. The Raelians were in the news; on November 14th 2002 Year 9 pupils by and large did come forward and identify symbolised churches in Faithtown, a fictional place with appropriate names of religious leaders on a second OHT. All this went towards a Year 9 genre writing report on Christian attitudes to other faiths, based in the characters and places in Faithtown. This was used later on 17 December for another teacher's class to catch up on this section of the syllabus. Both OHTs showed a clarity and boldness only possible with computer images and drawing and full colour inkjet printing.

Use of ICT in homework was frequently optional. However, work into exercise books is computer unfriendly. Typing words has a positive literacy effect by producing more determined and crisper sentences. Spelling may be automatically checked but be incorrectly applied. If as a matter of course pupils had ring binder loose paper based work, computer use would rise. There are issues of equality of access to home ICT here but it is now policy to have free ICT access in libraries as well as individual access in the school (See Stern, 2000, 1).

I used higher level differentiated homework on 24 October 2002 with Year 9 Social Harmony. They were covering Hinduism, the basics of which were covered a year earlier in Year 8 (and to which I taught in 2003, producing large numbers of own artwork material on Hindu Gods, again printed to Overhead Projector Transparencies). The homework introduced connections between Gandhi, Thoreau the transcendentalist, Tolstoy the liberal Christian author, and Jainism (the source of ahimsa). This researched based Internet work was impossible within the classroom.

Searching the Internet is particularly rewarding for RE (as for other Humanities subjects), and can support almost any 'research' homework task. done by all pupils, as long as a flexible enough approach is taken. (Stern, 2000, 1)

The outcome demonstrated that the work was too high level and that given the choice almost all pupils will take the easier route. The learning points were returned to later as a means of enriching understanding of Gandhi. The October 2003 lesson also included a video. This was clips of the film Gandhi (director Richard Attenborough), but it became clear that the film had rewritten history, in some cases radically. This meant commentary was necessary, and an OHT was designed that showed General Dyer and a true casualty figure of the Amritsar massacre in 1919.

This OHT was typical of the method used throughout. The pciture of General Dyer was gained from the Internet. I removed surrounding aspects in an image editor to focus on the man. He was given a colour bias. I collected information which could be reduced to the simplest historical points. This was typed in as image text and the result was .bmp format. Although the result was not A4 size, Irfan View (recommended on East Yorkshire Intranet for Learning) printed it to fit to A4 and this was colour printed on an inkjet transparency.

Original artwork may be digitised. The computer repairer Ganesh, drawn directly on to a write-on transparency in a free period moment of inspiration, was scanned at home and printed to A4 in XNview but the printing went to .PDF rather than printer. I have used the awkward Ghostcript in the past to make .PDFs, needing an added graphic user interface, but Broadgun PDF Machine was purchased for added flexibility. Many times children have asked if I have drawn something and the when the answer is yes it stimulates their own creativity.

OHTs may be copied into books as with the eucharist OHT. This was part of a much wider and multiple resourced lesson with the learning points of passover, eucharist and symbolism in general, given to Year 7 studying Holy Week over several weeks, on 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and, by teacher request, additionally on 13th December. The lesson included a comedy video sketch of just a few minutes, my Green Man artefact, my green and gold ritual gown, and my eucharist set. The OHT added summary points for children's books. There was word processed material on the eucharist and to guess what the Green Man was (this designed for other artefacts).

Some websites remain important areas for RE resources. One is theREsite and there is RE-XS. These preselect resources and links but this cannot remove teacher responsibility.

The most essential piece of equipment at the end of the ICT chain is the photocopier. It is not counted as ICT, but without it much of the word processed preparation work would come to nothing. However, it is a strain on departmental budgets and is another reason to produce OHTs.

Own material

This document:

Amritsar Massacre OHT:

Eucharist OHT/ Use of PDF:

Faithtown (OHT):

Ganesh (Use of .PDF):
Note: this is a drawn image, scanned, printed to .PDF and usuable many times.

Hajj BBC Video Timed:

Hajj Interactive:

Raelians (OHT):


Attenborough, R. (director, producer) (1982), Gandhi, video, written by Briley, J., used as edited by the School.

Stern, J. (2000), 'ICT, Homework, and Independent Learning in RE' from: Byting Back 4th edition, in .PDF form received by email.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2003), East Riding Intranet for Learning [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: [Accessed February 7, 2003, 22:25]

RE Websites

RE-XS (2003), RE-XS [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: [Accessed January 28, 2003, 20:38]

(2003) theREsite [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: [Accessed January 28, 2003, 20:55]