Is it even possible to live life without the help of Google? It’s funny how something that didn’t even exist when most of us were kids is now the ultimate authority for everything. If anyone has a question about anything, the phones come out and Google is consulted for the answer.
The only problem is Google isn’t God. They don’t really vet the entries that are placed first for truth and reliability. In fact, many people pay to have their entries move up in the order or employ some other methods to be high on the Google “answer sheet” for our questions.
This probably doesn’t matter if you are given inaccurate information about the age of an actor or the name of the third vice president of the United States. Unfortunately, the stakes are a bit higher when young people may be building their Bible understanding and faith foundations based on what you have discovered on a Google search.
On the other hand, Google can really be of help to the Bible class teacher. You can have resources at your fingertips that would have been unavailable to you a few decades ago. The trick is knowing how to use Google to help your Bible class and not undermine what you are trying to do. Here are some things to consider the next time you want Google to help.
Ways Google Can Help Your Bible Class
- Quickly finding a needed Bible verse – If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably know the gist of the verse you are thinking of, but possibly not its exact scripture reference. Googling “Bible verse” and any of the words you remember (from any version) will usually quickly give you the book, chapter and verse. You may even find there is more than one place in the Bible that same information is shared.
- Finding photos of Items in the Bible unfamiliar to your students – Your students probably have no idea what a clay lamp looks like or a Torah scroll. A quick search on Google images can give you a large choice of photos to share with them. Seeing the actual unfamiliar item, will improve their understanding of your lesson.
- Finding meaningful, hands-on, experiential, memorable activity ideas for your lesson. Sure, we would love you to take advantage of the free ideas on the Teach One Reach One website, but we know you may need something our website doesn’t have for some reason. Googling can provide a wide range of other activity ideas people are willing to share.
- The answers to a specific, concrete question. Measurements and money are good examples of this. depending upon the version of the Bible you are using, you may run across unfamiliar units like a denarius. Or maybe one of your students wants to know how big Noah’s Ark was compared to modern ships (I actually had a student ask that!). Google can be very helpful in answering the sorts of questions not open to a lot of interpretation (although there is still some disagreement about the exact correlation between some ancient and modern measurements).
Ways Google Can Hurt Your Class
- Depending upon random strangers for theological interpretations. Even if the “expert” is famous, it doesn’t mean he or she is correct. In fact, sometimes I have found on the first page of responses people who would definitely be considered far, far out of the norm in their interpretation. Sometimes an outlier is correct, but depending upon people you don’t know for the theology you pass on to your students is dangerous at best. If you have questions, consider asking some of the Bible scholars in your own congregation for help or their favorite resources.
- Plagiarizing the lessons of others. This is particularly important for teachers of teens. Some teens are looking for excuses to reject God and Church. Don’t make it easy for them by stealing word for word another’s lesson you have found online. Often people who post lessons online, want you to share them with others. BUT they also put a lot of work into writing that lesson. It won’t undermine you as a teacher to share with your students that you found this great lesson or quote online. Attribution also sets a great example for your students who may already be struggling with the concept of honesty and academia.
- Finding long videos to play for your class. We suggest any video shown to students should be no longer than a couple of minutes – five at the very max, if it is extremely valuable for some reason. You have limited time with your students and showing them a video is not the best way to make use of that time.
Google can help or hurt your class, so use it carefully. You want anything to add value to your class, not take it away.