The first online catechism lesson for tenth-grade members of St. Clare Mission began on Sunday, November 1, 2020 on Google Classroom and for other grades around this time as well.
Catechism is where students in grades one through thirteen study Christian principles and the Church, more specifically, in this case, according to the regulations established by the Syro-Malabar Church – an Eastern denomination of Christianity – because this mission is part of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy Catholic Church of Great Britain (established in July 2016).
Under normal circumstances, these classes would take place directly after the weekly Sunday Mass (celebration of the Eucharist) at the Roman Catholic Church of St Therese in Merstham. However, due to restrictions on how many people can go to church and how long to stay, teachers resorted to Google Classroom, with pre-created accounts for students.
Joseph John, a tenth grade teacher, comments on the situation:
Overall, Mr John found the technology easy to use and had no issues because everything worked “seamlessly” – because the platform was similar to other apps such as Zoom and because he had an “initial glimpse from a friend.” Additionally, he described some of the benefits of these changes such as the “greater flexibility” and the ability for students to attend from “their own comfort zone.” While the online teaching was interesting and worked well, he noted that “there is always a difference” between virtual and in-person teaching – usually the reduced interaction.
Sianna Benny, a tenth grader, describes the online classes as “very engaging” and also a new experience, providing a different type of learning that has allowed us to “work together in these uncertain times”. However, she pointed out that face-to-face classes provide “a better social experience” – especially when engaging with peers in discussions. But overall, she found the lessons to be “very well organized” with no compromise on students’ spiritual growth.
Teachers will continue to receive additional training on Zoom to provide the best possible training online and possibly also in person, as restrictions on places of worship ease further in the future.