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Contest Almost Over – Drop Your Name in the Hat

Don’t forget tomorrow night is the last night of my 1 year blog anniversary contest. I am giving away a pretty cool prize to one lucky reader of this blog. I’ve decided to randomly draw a name out of my hat to select the winner, so it’s anybody’s game! Everyone is welcome to join in, even if this is your first post.

See the post here:
1 Year Blog-Anniversary Giveaway

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Changing Homes: The Meeting House Network

A quick announcement – we at the Daily Scribe have decided to do an entire site revamp, with some new ideas, a new name, a new feel, for the new year. We’ve appreciated all the hard work and commitment to the community. There has been a good deal of success of this the earlier version, and hope that by doing an overhaul we’ll be able renew interest in the project.

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The Church and Postmodern Culture

I just found out about “The Church and Postmodern Culture” website, which looks like it’s going to be a great find. Chris, pointed out their first issue of “The Church and Postmodern Culture: Conversation,” otherwise known as c&p issue 1.1. It is a downloadable “journal” of sorts. In the issue they cover philosopher, James K. Smith’s newest book
Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism,” and one of my favorites, Peter Rollins “How (Not) To Speak of God.”

On the site they also cover a recent conversation with one of my favorite theologians, Stanley Hauerwas.

Some Related Posts:
Hauerwas and a Faith and Practice for Emerging Churches
Disadvantage of Blogs as Theological Discourse
Why Theology Should Be Written On Blogs and Wikis
Books For An Introduction To Studying Bible and Theology

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1 Year Blog-Anniversary Giveaway

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Posted Edited 1.29 (See below):
Today is the one year anniversary of gatheringinlight.com and my migration over to WordPress. 365 days ago I moved my blog from blogger to hosted wordpress account and bought this domain name. And I’ve decided to have a giveaway where anyone Can Enter, the more the merrier!

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Thoughts on Pedagogy: Does Technology in The Classroom Help or Hurt?

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A couple weeks back I had the great privilege to meet with some of the faculty and staff at the school where I attend, to discuss updating the classrooms on campus for better learning. The school was recently awarded a grant with this specific task in mind.

One question raised was “What are the best ways in which we can spend this grant money on technology for learning?”

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Thoughts on pedagogy does technology in the classroom help or hurt

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A couple weeks back I had the great privilege to meet with some of the faculty and staff at the school where I attend, to discuss updating the classrooms on campus for better learning. The school was recently awarded a grant with this specific task in mind.

One question raised was “What are the best ways in which we can spend this grant money on technology for learning?”

As the discussion unfolded, however, two sorts of issues became increasingly clear:
1) Assumptions of pedagogy
2) Technology and it’s relationship to learning (does it help or hurt?)

Technology and the Educator at the Center

We found that there are, obviously, different styles of teaching and with those styles come different assumptions about teaching. It’s interesting that when I first think about classroom technology I think of the typical setup with a projector, screen, speakers, podium, and computer. But all these things are aimed at the enhancing the lecturer as centerpiece of learning.

369711112 9Dbd57Aae5 O In the modern world we are obsessed with performance based styles of learning. It seems like every time we, students or Christians, get together we have someone talk at us, and we get very little interaction with our peers and/or speaker. This trend was made popular, at least in the church, by revivalist preachers such as Billy Sunday and Charles Finney. Many of us believe it is a very tired pedagogical method. One person comes to the classroom, or congregation and disseminates all the information he or she can do, through spoken word, video clips, powerpoint, etc. The Lecturer as the learning centerpiece has become a standard assumption of pedagogy in many classrooms.

While I do mind learning from lectures – they are not the only or even the best way to learn. Jane Vella has written a lot about adult education and talks about the importance of task oriented learning and small group work.

Most of my favorite professors from Undergrad and Graduate school engage the class in a variety of learning styles including small group work and round-table discussions. In these classrooms, students demonstrate the skills necessary to achieve the course objectives, they put into practice what the professor hopes for them to learn; just telling them how to do it doesn’t prepare them.

At any rate, when you have money to spend on “classroom” technology the focus tends to become the professor and enabling him or her to be better at performing and delivering content. It’s one of modernity’s fetishes, words and the people who speak them. In this view the responsibility to learn the material is taken off the learner and placed on the educator, as if to say, “the better content I can deliver as a professor, the better skills I exhibit as a lecturer will make the students learn what they need to know.”

Technology and the Learner

369396660 8Cc26F35Ec Even deeper is the issue of whether technology aids or harms learning. People will take their sides quickly on this issue. Should we allow computers in the classroom? Should we make all the professors learn powerpoint? Should all classrooms be wired for the web? One thing to keep in mind is that technology has ordering power. A majority of fundamental questions now revolve around whether technology is useful or not, it orders a majority question and decision we make as educators in the Western world.

One thing we discovered in this discussion about pedagogy and technology was: Technology often times controls the pedagogy, rather than the pedagogy controlling the way technology is used.

People are worried that if the school offers “podcasts” of lectures the students won’t come to class. This is a real concern, and one that gets at some “base” questions about what it is we are attempting to do in the classroom. If our lecture is the basis for our whole pedagogical style then handing out audio files from a class leaves us vulnerable to the power of technology. But if handing out an audio file is only a small part of what happens in the classroom, and the classroom is still the laboratory where understanding and experimentation takes place, then we may be all right.

But using technology in the classroom will continue to raise questions, and we must first be serious about a technology free pedagogy, so that the technology we do use is only a tool and not a crutch.

An Experiment in Learning

369711110 3E9Bd02Bfd O-1 I for one hate powerpoint, am easily distracted by the things on my computer, and like to surf the web. I also rarely enjoy (or benefit from) a 2 hour lecture where students do everything possible to keep up with what’s being lectured about by typing frantically on their keyboards. In my own experience I learn very little this way.

So, I decided to do an experiment this past quarter. I bought a pad of paper to take notes on instead of typing them out on my laptop. This enabled me to engage my professor and classmates without having to focus on my computer screen and word processor. But I also used technology as a tool – I purchased a very inexpensive and easy to use recording program called voice candy and used my laptop to record the 3 hour class periods (not lectures) so I could review them later.

This helped me keep my head in the class discussion at all times, I handwrote notes, and drew out diagrams (Nancey Murphy, the prof for the class, loves to use diagrams and pictures). I was able to engage my classmates eye to eye in our wrestling with the course material, but I can also go back and review the audio and type out notes as I need to.

The point of this was to find a way in which I could use technology as a tool, that wouldn’t impede my learning. It’s really easy to get distracted with your laptop open in a 3 hour class! It’s also really easy to think we’re learning, while playing games, surfing the web, and chatting online, when in fact we’re doing very little of that.

I really think my experiment helped me learn and get to know my classmates better.

And so after all this a different questions seems more appropriate:
“How can we help to empower student-centered learning? And what tools can help make this possible?”


Credit for header image here and the sleeping students photo here.

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Problems with WP 2.1 – Duplicate Posts and Comment Issues

I have experienced a couple different problems with my WordPress 2.1 install and so I thought I would note them here hoping they may help you out.

1. Duplicate posts was a major problem I ran into
This was fixed by upgrading the plugin Sideblog.

2. Comments are not working, I had two different issues here:
First I needed to update my plugin “subscribe to comments,” to their newest version. And secondly, it appears I am having some trouble with my related posts plugin. It looks like it has been updated here but I haven’t tried it out yet. There is also a wiki here that offers some information on this stuff.

I will post once I know how it all works.

Related Post:
Lorelle’s post on the new 2.1

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I Guess Not All Quakers are Pacifists

My buddy Chris turned me on to this article the other day,

Palestinian Students Beaten and Called ‘Terrorists’ by Football Players at N.C. College

“The five-minute attack involved “at least 15 members of the football team,??? some of them drunk, the newspaper said, citing a police report and college statement, and the Palestinians were called “terrorists??? and insulted with racial slurs. Two of the three victims are students at Guilford, a Quaker institution, while one was visiting from North Carolina State University; two were severely injured.”

This is all pretty ridiculous if you ask me, no it’s really ridiculous.

But to be fair my guess is these guys aren’t really Quakers at all, and further more have little interest in developing Quaker practices, from my experience I’d assume they are there on athletic scholarships.

But this raises a number of questions, are college sports for Christian institutions really all that helpful? And if so, all sports, or just some? And how do we create athletes that embody the virtues of our given traditions? And what about a screening process or better discipline by coaches who take seriously the Christian faith? These are serious questions – are some sports anti-thetical to the Christian faith? How about the nonviolent traditions within the Christian faith?

And honestly I am not sure.

It does seem like when small schools decide to make a move toward becoming an athletic institution they have to make a number of compromises in order to make that happen, from finances, to grades, and the kinds of people the accept into the school.

This is not always the case, and I know many Christian football players, but I can’t help but wonder how useful this really is?

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Reading for Renewal within A Tradition

I’ve compiled some questions from my notes I took while reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s Whose Justice, Which Rationality?

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DVDevos – Video Devotionals for Visual Christians

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This week I wanted to highlight the ministry of two Evangelical Friends and some of the cool things they’re doing.

Matt Taflan and Shawn Belt, both from Ohio, have joined together in Florida to make short video devotionals they are calling DVDevos. They see this as an opportunity to bring together creativity and Christian faith, for the use of discipling others in biblical truths. I personally think it’s a real interesting project and something I’d hope succeeds. I see the project especially helpful for youth ministries (though not limited to that sphere) where teens look for something a little more media-driven, but I also think it will inspire more young people to combine their faith and creativity and get involved in the arts.