The effective use of ICT in RE

Andy Seed was formerly the deputy head at a primary school in Yorkshire. He now works as a freelance writer of educational resources.

ICT is clearly here to stay, and the Government seems very keen that, as teachers, we all use it to help us teach. The question is, when should we use it for RE and what is the best way to do so? This article gives a number of suggestions for using computers, the Internet, e-mail and other technologies, such as digital cameras and video to enhance pupils' spiritual development and learning in RE.

Do I need to use ICT in RE?

Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) states that "ICT offers powerful tools to help pupils learn in RE. However, it enhances pupils' learning only when used discriminately to help them achieve specific objectives." The clear message is that ICT should only be used if it clearly adds value to the learning process; it should not be used for its own sake.


How can ICT help with RE?

ICT can help pupils learn both about religions and from religions through:

  • Providing 'real-life' communicative and co-operative activities
  • Enhancing investigative skills
  • Providing access to a wide range of information and different 'viewpoints'
  • Helping with organisation, recording, reporting and communicating findings

ICT can also help teachers by:

  • Increasing subject expertise
  • Giving access to ideas, activities and other resources
  • Facilitating planning
  • Allowing a greater range of teaching strategies, e.g., use of an interactive whiteboard
  • Aiding administration, e.g., assessment and recording/reporting work
  • Facilitating communication with other RE teachers and specialists

Examples of using ICT in RE

  1. Using the Internet to discover how Easter is celebrated around the world: finding information, personal accounts, photographs, sounds and video clips.
  2. Establishing e-mail dialogue with another school to enable pupils to interact with children of other religious backgrounds; e-mail is also very useful for contacting visiting speakers.
  3. Virtual visits to various different Christian churches.
  4. Multimedia: using a presentation package to present a new RE topic in a stimulating way, with graphics, text and sounds. Older KS2 pupils can also create their own presentations on particular aspects of a topic following research.
  5. Using digital photos or video of visits to enhance follow-up work and to enrich displays.
  6. Giving greater scope to written RE work through the power of word-processing or desktop publishing, e.g., reports, posters or leaflets which use illustrations, photos, religious symbols and facts captured from CD-ROM or websites.
  7. Enhancing worksheets using copyright-free text and images downloaded from the Internet.
  8. Using a database for teacher planning, which links a scheme of work to specific resources, both electronic and paper-based. The QCA Scheme of Work for RE can also be downloaded and edited or adapted to meet the requirements of your school.

Guidelines for using ICT in RE

  • Do not feel obliged to use ICT at the expense of tried and tested learning activities.
  • All use of ICT should relate clearly to learning objectives based on your Agreed Syllabus or Diocesan Guidelines.
  • Use the links above to find recommended websites for pupils to use for research, etc., rather than allowing 'open' Internet searches.
  • Avoid using ICT simply as a motivator: sometimes it can actually detract from RE learning.
  • Aim for a balance between using ICT for research and for communication.
  • Provide opportunity for pupils to reflect on their use of ICT, and the impact it has on learning.
  • ICT is not all computers and websites: you can also use audio cassettes, CDs, OHP, TV, camcorders, cameras, videos, telephone and scanners.

Useful websites Becta advice and ideas about the use of ICT in RE. The site also has links to numerous vetted resources including banks of 'faith sounds'. RE Today part of the Christian Education Organisation. The RE Site a comprehensive gateway of useful links. QCA Scheme of Work for RE. A reference site for RE information. An excellent UK resource for exploring three Christian churches. TES recommended links to sites about World faiths. The TES website also has a useful RE forum for teachers. Resources for RE teaching, with particular interest in using leading edge technology and imaginative curriculum design to promote good practice in, and awareness of, RE. An initiative of the ELMAR project (Electronic Media and Religion) the RE-XS web-site aims to support religious and moral education in schools. Resources for teaching Primary Religious Education from Reception to Year 6 based on the Stockport agreed syllabus. National Curriculum in Action: helpful exemplars of children's work at different levels, particularly useful for assessment.