Rev. Walter Johanson, St. Peter Estonian Lutheran Church
Vancouver B.C., 1.604.263.1802, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our class is made up of older than confirmation age youth (13 to 18 years of age). Our church happens to have a high-speed link to the Internet as well as a few terminals connected to the network. It is easy for us to have small groups do Internet-based research as part of the class work. Also, all of the students have Internet access at home.
Using The Small Catechism as an outline, I add activities that involve using search engines to find complimentary resources. The students make a game out of it to find the best site. All agree on which site to email to the class email list. At home, the students are required to keep a "Favourites" folder on their browser called "My Faith." This folder contains links to the sites we visit during confirmation class and includes links to our church's (local and national) home pages, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), bible, catechism, etc.
The church calendar is also used as a reason to search the Net. For example, last December, I gave them the assignment to find out what "Advent" was and write about it. One question was: "What is the liturgical colour used during Advent?"
We also communicate via email. Class assignments are passed on in this way. Receiving the email causes the youth to have one more contact ("hit") with the church and their faith which they might not have had that day. It also helps us to keep in touch with confirmands at the Estonian Lutheran Church, broadening the scope of their understanding of "church."
Here are some comments from the youth about the use of the Internet in class. Their first name follows their quote:
"Internet Bible where you search key words and phrases was the most useful tool we used." — Kalev
" Broadened our resources because we had access to everything." - Andres
"There was much more useful information at our disposal." — Seliina
"Gave us a new perspective on how many people are involved and contribute to Christianity." — Taavo
"It made learning about religion a lot more easier and fun." - Hendrik
"Helped us to find different web sites on religion." — Kristina
"The advantage of new technology allowed us to find much more information on religion." — Leiki
In the future, I plan to use group email to send out daily bible reading assignments. With the Internet, they can return the assignments which I can review the following day. This will provide consistent, daily contact with their faith and help prevent cramming for the next class. I'll be cataloguing on-line video resources such as the one at the CLWR site, and adding anything more that comes to mind.