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The Continued Use of ICT in the Teaching of RE

Typical Uses:
Overhead Projector Transparencies, Computers in school, ICT in Homework, Videos.
Most ICT took place in preparation and delivery, but there were occasions of computer use by pupils.

Early in the practice 21 February I took some part in assisting some pupils at computer screens in the well booked ICT centre. Pupils are often in the ICT area for just part of the lesson. An idea has been to use the ICT to generate interest among Year 10 students for web searches but preference is to direct URLs and make better use of class time. An RE class was informally observed (a lower ability Year 7 class led by a teacher who takes a few lessons a week which just happened to be in the suite when computer-using preparation was taking place). This amounted to a web search of the Good Samaritan story and then some creative writing on MS Word on this and other findings. It was pupil led in terms of creative output. This approach has been considered limited set against given objectives and suggested activities in the schemes of work and levels of ability in classes taken.

A selective targeted view of ICT applies to computer use and particularly Internet searches which can take up class work time and be ineffective. Also finding out through research is a good use of Internet linked computers as a homework activity and for pupil initiative. On a number of occasions pupils have asked if they can use computers for homework and the answer is always yes, and this has been encouraged in a more proactive manner. Homework use of ICT has, however, always been optional because of issues of inequality and access.

Spreadsheets have been produced for teacher use using 602 Tab to produce combined registration, homework and discipline sheets throughout.

Major use has been made of the Overhead (Data) Projector (OHP) and Overhead (Data) Transparencies in every lesson. Early in the practice the projector screen was repaired to faciliatate use. The projector screen covers and replaces the chalkboard but leaves the wipeboard available. The OHP is an instant wipeboard allowing full use of colours. Preset objectives from the scheme of work were delivered this way allowing students to write from the very beginning of lessons and enabling opening sentences to be placed on the actual wipeboard (usually written beforehand). Throughout, maps, charts, diagrams, pictures and text in colour have been produced, many hand drawn but also many from computer use and printed on to inkjet transparencies.

Sometimes it is easier to draw on to OHTs using my artistic abilities. The drawings may then be scanned, and electonically manipulated and arranged. Artwork is appreciated by children and often motivates as well as stimulates their ideas, especially when instructed that they cannot copy the whole but must use their own ideas perhaps in partnership with what is seen.

Use of OHP with scanning pictures from various sources has allowed rearrangement as different collections of related stimulus. Text has been added for direction. Small software packages like Irfan View and XNView with MS Paint have been used to arrange, crop and alter. Micrographx Picture Publisher has coloured black and white pictures and improved from poor sources. Irfan View and XNView provides one way to print best-fit to A4, but another method has been the use of Portable Document Format (.PDF).

Ghostscript was a free method to create .PDF pages after having printing from any application to a printer file (.PRN) assisted by a "front end" drag and drop piece of software like Make PDF. However, it depended on its imported fonts. With a purchase of Broadgun PDF all the system computer fonts became available to produce a fixed .PDF page based on the print preview of any software application. The origin of teaching tools is then standardised: whether as tables, a display of images, or text originating from a spreadsheet or word processor. In essence every piece of software becomes its own desk top publisher.

An example of working to A4 and projection was 19 and 24 March in producing a Hindu gods family tree for Year 7, consisting of imported and created images, text and lines showing lineage, all illustrating the Trimurti and adding to knowledge for Year 7 imported from primary school.

Advice was presented on the use of the OHP and OHTs to RE staff on 11 April. This was in terms of different transparencies, revealing and overlap with two, positioning on the projector, software for preparation and how to get it, how to cut and paste using two packages at once, and how to fit to the A4 projected space, the use of permanant and non-permanent pens, and live teaching when the class can be faced when answers are written down.

Use of permanent and non-permanent pens together was done during a lesson on Sukkot to Year 8 on 7 and 8 May 2003. A pre-prepared table structure drawn from permanent pens (with leaves drawn across the top) for Tishrei festivals had gaps for filling in with non-permanent pens according to assisted pupil responses.

An important teaching method is the Spider diagram or Mind Map® developed by Tony Buzan (see Svantesson, Ingemar, 1989; Buzan, Keene, 1994). Buzan advances a number of learning and psychological theories based on the use of colours and supporting images. These theories extend to ideas of Whole Brain Thinking (Shephard, 2001) which is conjectural in evidence. The Mind Map® displays by higher to lower hierarchical order outwards from the centre and also goes from the more general central terminology outwards towards the more specific and detailed. Many of these views are arguably salesmanship and the need to identify a unique product, and there may be limited use for revision, but there is no doubt that actually creating Mind Maps® involves pupils in logically ordering and arranging. It would be better if they could use ICT directly for this purpose because the logical order can be moved on screen. As a substitute ICT is used in their preparation, where only some branches are given in the projection or worksheet given to pupils. The program eMindMaps allows for a professional presentation and able to do all that Tony Buzan argues for. It has always been used in preparation for the pupil exercise in ordering points of information. An example was Jewish festivals for Year 10 on 25 March 2003 and Euthanasia and Suicide on 1 April 2003, both for Year 10 on the basis that these highlight information for retention and reacquisition.

A BBC video was reviewed and shown to Year 10 which considered vegetarian issues. The idea of using a video is that it at least gets the attention of the most difficult of classes. The producers created a hook around a relationship between a woman who ate meat and a man who regarded it as fundamental to his Hindu belief and any marriage not to eat meat. There was much use of mobile phones as another hook for interest. People of other religions then commented including a Jewish believer who argued the place of vegetarian belief within Judaism as an extension of Judaism. The hook however did not work; it looked like the class saw through it as the device it was to receive their attention. Thus the video had to be told to the class afterwards.

The video player was used less often than the first school. The need to change seating positions (away from sitting around tables) meant an added difficulty in operation as a learning tool. Sitting around the video emphased the passive "sit back" nature of the medium and therefore likely to be more ineffective as a teaching tool. Preference for pausing tapes and teaching during videos was against the experience of pupils. As with computers, videos should only be used when really advantageous.

The following lesson plan for Year 10 GCSE Short Course, using objectives from the scheme of work, but new opening words, shows video use and exploitation of OHTs:

Resources OHP, OHTs, video
Date 6 May 2003
Aims and Objectives Reflection and Response: on arguments for and against religious views on the use and abuse of animals.
Know: religious teachings on the use and abuse of animals
Understand: why religious people hold the views they do
Opening sentences (to go on board) Religious people combine traditional views regarding having dominion over nature and eating animals with religious calls for compassion. These arguments lead on to ask what the animals themselves experience and a human response.
Timing Point (Objective) Task Differentiate method (if relevant) Assessment method Resources
10 minutes Objectives and opening sentences

Writing down; reading and explaining   Files viewed Own students'
5 minutes Starter of images of experiments Responses and recaps   Reactions OHT printed (Internet acquired images of experiments on animals, arranged on large image file, printed to A4 on inkjet transparency
10 minutes What do animals experience? Notes in response to questions Simple and more lengthy answers Marking sensitivity Speculate!
OHT drawn permanent pens: a dog and injection, questions on pain, knowing environment, pain, own death, knowing the past, communication/ language and consent as bubbled questions.
15 minutes Animal response to an event Very short story to what animal thinks How much into limitations of animal Creativity OHT drawn permanent pens: an alien ship receiving; a cat held in a human hand: Write the creature's thoughts including the limitations of the thoughts and knowing
20 minutes Vegetarian argument Watch video; answer points Depth of argument/s Memory and application BBC video and OHT
5 minutes Homework set Pick a question Depth of argument Memory and application OHT
5 minutes Summary Linking      

As with the first practice many of the resources produced have been added to my Pluralist website. From time to time emails have been received indicating wider use and appreciation. This adds to notes placed on to the University Blackboard with benefit to others and specific sixth formers in another school.



Shephard, P. (2001), Whole Brain Thinking and Learning: Enhancing Individual and Organizational Learning through Wholebrain Thinking, Selangor, Malaysia: Braindominance Technologies SDN BHD.

Svantesson, Ingemar (1989), Mind Mapping and Memory: powerful techniques to help you make better use of your brain, London: Kogan Page.

Buzan, T., Keene, R. (1994), Buzan's Book of Genius: and how to unleash your own, London: Stanley Paul and Company, 58-60.

Minto, B. (1991), The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking, London: BCA.