Category: Education

One of the greatest challenges in youth ministry is making connections – between younger people and older leaders, school students and local churches, and most of all, between believers and unbelievers. Camps are a venue that can achieve all three.

Read more in my monthly article at

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are today running a story in the ‘Next’ IT section of their newspapers on my use of the Moodle program for our online learning at Youthworks College.

The article, titled “Use your moodle to deliver lessons” outlines the benefits of online learning, and documents some of the process by which we implemented it in our teaching.

Here is an excerpt:

Jodie McNeill, priest, lecturer and technology enthusiast, fell in love with Moodle late last year.


The open source course management system (CMS) is at the heart of Mr McNeill’s theology course for school-leavers, Year 13. Every week he uses the online system to post texts required for the following lesson.


Students must read them and complete comprehension tests before moving on. At the end, they must enter a summary and ask questions. Mr McNeill then monitors the answers and uses them to prepare his weekly face-to-face lectures.

Read the full story here.

An interesting article in today’s SMH suggests that the way in which we have been using PowerPoint in many of our churches and educational institutions is in fact working against the learning process, not helping it.

I have had a hunch about this for some time, and have stopped using PowerPoint to accompany my sermons and youth talks. The main reason is that I feel that PowerPoint creates a gap between preacher/teacher and congregation/class, and that simply talking allows much more scope for relationship. The fact that Gen Y’s crave experience over explanation points further to the fact that a speaker who speaks with emotion and engages the crowd will be more likely to have an impact than those who present the information in a formal teaching style.

Even more interesting is the observation that by reading along in our Bibles when the Bible reading is spoken in church may in fact be making it harder for us to comprehend the message.

I’ve been sussing out a CMS (course management system) called Moodle. I was first introduced to this open source package during my recent study of a distance education M.A. (Theology) subject through Moore College. It looks to be a very promising tool for the Year 13 program this year, and it opens up many possibilities.

Basically, it is like a MySpace/ Yahoo Group for students, but also includes online quizzes, wikis, discussion boards, and full marking and administration capabilities.

What is most exciting is the potential to use this package to provide students with the opportunity to bring their Year 13 studies into the rest of their week in an even more structured way. Rather than ask students to just read a chapter before they come to class, we could give them a short quiz to enhance their comprehension and track their progress. Even the journals that we required students to complete last year could be done online through this package.

The biggest difficulty I see is making sure that we keep the value of our face-to-face contact. We need to be able to love/serve/cry/sing/listen/pray together in a real place at a real time. However, this tool may even prove as an enhancement for that very objective, since some of the course delivery could happen online from home, leaving more time for discussion and community of the real type when we meet each Thursday and Friday.

Perhaps Moodle is the ideal learning tool for Gen Y?

Have you had any experience with online/distance learning? Have you used Moodle before? Do you have any suggestions about how it might be best implemented?