Digital technologies loom large in the experience of today’s students. However, parents, teachers, and school leaders have only started to take stock of the ramifications for teaching, learning, and faith.
Based on a three-year in-depth study of Christian schools, Digital Life Together walks educators, school leaders, and parents through some of the big ideas that are hidden in our technology habits, going beyond general arguments for or against digital devices to address the nuanced realities of Christian education in a twenty-first-century context.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: Orientation 1. A Shifting Landscape 2. A Faith Tapestry 3. What is Technology? 4. What This Book Offers 5. Modern Christian Schools in Context PART TWO: Mission 6. Understanding the School’s Mission 7. Why Technology? Community Perceptions of the Mission 8. Communicating the Mission: How the Vision was Received 9. Do Laptops Support the School’s Mission? 10. Reaching Beyond the Mission Statement: A Tapestry of Faith Strategies PART THREE: Teaching and Learning 11. Pursuing Pedagogical Play 12. Digital or Not? The Art of Daily Choice 13. Preparing Minds: Inquiry and Life-Long Learning 14. Preparing Minds: Higher-Order Thinking 15. Preparing Minds: Differentiation and Inclusion 16. The Benefits of Efficient Tools 17. Completing Assignments, but Cheating Ourselves PART FOUR: Discernment 18. What is Christian Discernment? 19. Christian Discernment and Digital Citizenship 20. How Does Discernment Shape School Policy? 21. Are Students Getting Too Much Screen Time? 22. Keeping the Good from the Bad: Moral Boundaries 23. Fitting and Monitoring Internet Use: Does It Help? 24. Discernment and Consumerism 25. Teaching a Christian Perspective PART FIVE: Formation 26. How Do Beliefs Relate to Practices? 27. How Do Laptops Foster Connections to the Wider World? 28. Limitations of Digital Engagement with the Wider World 29. Are Students Really Paying Attention? 30. Teaching Slow Learning 31. Can Spiritual Disciplines Help with Technology? 32. Who Takes Responsibility for Distraction? PART SIX: Community 33. Faith, Practices, and Community 34. Shifting Relational Dynamics 35. Does Technology Use Increase Collaboration? 36. Parents’ Roles and Perspectives 37. Parent Communication and Information Overload 38. Time, Workload, and Boundaries 39. The Finish Line Keeps Moving
David I. Smith is director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and professor of education at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he serves as editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education. His books include On Christian Teaching, Teaching and Christian Practices (with James K. A. Smith) and Teaching and Christian Imagination(with Susan Felch). Visit him online at onchristianteaching.com.
Kara Sevensma has over 15 years of educational experience, first as a K-12 special education teacher and then as an assistant professor of Education at Calvin College. Her most recent work explores the intersections of digital technologies, school culture, and Christian education.
Marjorie Terpstra, chair of the Education department and associate professor of education at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, brings many hours of classroom observation experience as part of her instructional work at Calvin and elsewhere. Her research has focused on the complexities of teaching with digital technologies and on leveraging digital technologies for learning to teach.
Steven McMullen is associate professor of economics at Hope College, the executive editor of the journal Faith & Economics, and fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. He has done substantial work on the ethics and theology of economic life, with an emphasis on animal ethics, the environment, consumerism, and technology, including the book Animals and the Economy.
"This is a gem of a book. Reports of educational research are often hard work for the professional educator and difficult to apply in school. This book is exactly the opposite. It combines rigorous research with a highly accessible written style and practical outcomes for schools to implement. The challenge of integrating technology with Christian learning is dealt with through an in-depth case study. The clear structure, frequent summaries, easily digestible chapters, and thought-provoking questions make this a masterpiece in communication. Every Christian school should have at least one copy in its staff library and use it for staff development." — Trevor Cooling National Institute for Christian Education Research Canterbury Christ Church University
“Through their close study, the authors cogently map out the complex ‘faith-technology-teaching-learning tapestry’ in the Christian school. Not only will every Christian school educator, student, and parent see their experiences reflected in this book, they’ll also be challenged toward technology-based practice that is missionally aligned, encourages both creativity and discernment, and enriches Christian formation and community.” — Lynn E. Swaner Association of Christian Schools International
“Here, finally, is wisdom about the role of technology in Christian teaching and learning that is neither blind enthusiasm nor defensive dismissal. Rooted in empirical research rather than anecdotal impressions, this remarkable book helps us learn from what is happening to better frame what we hope might happen. This is an excellent catalyst for a conversation that all faith-based school communities need to have. Highly recommended for teachers, administrators, and the families investing in Christian schooling.” — James K. A. Smith Calvin University author of Desiring the Kingdom and You Are What You Love
“The authors of Digital Life Together demonstrate the beauty of excellent Christian research. They not only help us think about how to use our digital tools, they demonstrate how to use our social-scientific tools for learning. They employ quantitative studies, focus groups, case studies, classroom observations, and in-depth interviews to illuminate the complex realities and challenges of educational life with technology. As a result, they do not simply supply us with surface-level tips and techniques, they impart deep Christian wisdom about technology use in the Christian classroom gleaned from the field. Every Christian educator needs to read this book.” — Perry L. Glanzer Baylor University author of The Outrageous Idea of Christian Teaching
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