How do we know they’re learning during Christian education?
How do we know they’re learning during Christian education?


I was part of a fascinating Google+ Hangout today with several congregation-based faith formation leaders. The group was brought together by a post on the Forma Facebook group in which Nurya Love Parish asked the following question:

Is anyone trying, or has anyone tried, mastery-based learning in combination with online resources —by which I mean that students progress at their own pace through a series of lessons which are arranged so they build on one another? I ask because I am noticing both that I gave a quiz on world religions and most students didn’t know much (which was fine, it was a pre-test) and that the same students are VERY inconsistent in attendance—how can I ensure they learn anything?

Our wide-ranging conversation centered around two observations:

  • Online tools can’t single-handedly solve any of our pedagogical and programmatic challenges in Christian education: attendance, instruction, engagement, evaluation, etc.
  • Online tools have expanded the options available for teachers to share content and learners to express and measure their learning (though these tools are only useful when we match them to good learning goals and hold ourselves accountable to using them consistently).

We were particularly excited about the ability to offer a range of options to faith learners. So to some kids we could say,

Wanna compete with each other via online quizes and games? Set up a Socrative account on your smart phone and hop into our classroom. (At first glance, these other recommended tools from the Edutopia forums also looked promising: QuizStar, QuizBean, and Quia.)

And to other kids we might say,

Wanna express yourself and explore the topic we’ve been covering? Try making a film, cartoon, or sculpture about it and share with other kids on DIY.

Imagine how this could take off if teachers started getting together and sharing lessons and projects they’ve come up with (school teachers are already doing this). Imagine catechism quizes and Bible games that could be traded among teachers in different congregations.

Where will all this take the folks who hung out today? I don’t think any of us knows. But we wanted to share a bit about what we’ve been thinking—and put out a call to anyone having similar thoughts or wanting to take the plunge and try creating something new with us. 

Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and a panelist on the Easter People podcast.

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  1. Thanks so much for writing this up Kyle! When we were on the call I forgot the name of the online Learning Management System I was experimenting with a few weeks ago – so I didn’t bring it up. I’ve since found it: it’s Instructure. Check it out at

    I built a short module on it that integrated a video I recorded, a written welcome, a YouTube video, a graded quiz, and a non-graded survey. It was a fascinating process – like building a ChurchNext class from scratch. I would be happy to share the link with anyone so you can try it too. Email nuryaloveparish at gmail dot com.

    There are now a number of Learning Management Systems – although, not free. This document describes the state of the market:

    I have absolutely zero idea where all this is leading but am so delighted to find others who are as curious as I am.