One place where technology won’t enter

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, March 31, 2014

One place where technology won’t enter

One place where technology won't enter
I’m holding a photo of my grandfather, Roy Smith. One of my prized possessions of his is a Bible with my name in his handwriting in the cover. It’s a keepsake I can always hang on to, no matter if I switch phones, computers or social media. (I would have shown you a photo of my Bible, the focus of this blog post, but it’s buried in a box in my new house.)

Technology has substituted, augmented, modified or redefined much of what I do in class.

(See what I did there? If not, click the link and learn about SAMR. Your mind will be blown.)

As happy as I am about my almost paperless classroom, it is still an almost paperless classroom. There are a few activities that I still haven’t digitized: a review game, some readings my students do, etc.

Sometimes, using the old methods — including a paper-based assignment — is just easier. Sometimes it’s just better.

(Scary to hear from the Ditch That Textbook guy, huh?)

As time goes on and technology gets better, I’m integrating it more and more in my classroom and in my life.

There is one place where I won’t let technology replace the old ways.

My Bible.

I have used several Bible apps. I have one in my phone right now that I referred to at church on Sunday.

They will never take the place of my leather-bound, name-engraved study Bible, though.

Each day I study out of it, each Sunday message I listen to, I’m writing notes in it.

The way the pastor words something that catches my attention. Lists of important points. Insights I might forget otherwise.

When I write them down in the margins of my Bible, I’m usually squeezing them into space not intended for notes. The study Bible I use has a commentary under the verses, and they leave very little white space.

That’s OK, though. I’m going to keep cramming them in there anyway. Two reasons:

When I turn to a page to reference a passage of scripture, I hear the echoes of previous messages in my mind. I add new ideas to the previous ones or I start fresh on that page. As the years go by, I’ll accumulate a wealth of wisdom from previous Bible studies and Sunday sermons that I can reference any time.

I’m creating an heirloom for my children — and my grandchildren — with it. Long after I’m gone, they’ll be able to open that Bible and see my handwriting. Handwriting is very personal. You can see, learn and feel a lot about a person from it. They’ll see what I thought was important. 

It will almost be like my opportunity to speak into their lives after I’ve passed.

After my grandfather died, I found a Nave’s Topical Bible in his things where he had written my full name in the cover. Not sure why he did or what he was thinking when he wrote it, but it’s one of the most special things I have from him.

Sure, Bible apps have note-taking features. I could use an app like Penultimate to write it all out in my own handwriting.

I’ve tried it. Devices change. Programs come and go. Backups get lost over time or don’t survive the switch to a new phone or computer or tablet.

Aside from water or fire damage, the pages of my Bible will hold on for decades.

I’m all for incorporating technology in the classroom and in life. In so many ways, it improves efficiency and creativity and opportunities.

But don’t feel like you have to go 100 percent digital right away. Especially if something already works really well and you can’t think of a way that technology will improve it.

Don’t ruin something special because you feel pressured to “join the 21st century.”

Your students will probably thank you.

I’m guessing my children and grandchildren will thank me.

Do you have something in your educational life OR your personal life that can’t be improved with technology? Share it with us in a comment!

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  • Well said, Matt- and also the responses are well written. In our classrooms, sometimes paper is the best- even better than new tech. Students DO and WILL thank you for a break from computers and tablets. They enjoy “old school” and human interaction from time to time. (And yes, I won’t digitize my Bible either- I have my Grandmother’s Bible with her notes, my father’s Bible with his notes, and it’s like a piece of them that I can touch and feel. We have many family Bibles from as far back as the 1800s. I do use a digital Bible on the run, but for my Sunday sermon notes, nothing lasts forever like paper.)

  • Ellie Ashley says:

    I use my Bible app every Sunday to take notes. I like it because I am able to bookmark a verse and get to the notes easily by simply tapping the verse and then tapping “view related notes.” I guess you could say it is like the digital version of writing directly on the page. However, I still use my leather-bound Bible with my name on it as well. And I write on the pages! It does feel more personal and I know that it is something I will always keep and someday pass on to my children.

    One thing I do is actually copy some of the important points from my digital notes onto that page of my Bible. That way I have it in both places. My Bible app is just more easily accessible.

    • Matt Miller says:

      That sounds like a wonderful combination of the two — the access and easy use of the app and the permanent writing on the pages. And I love the idea of copying your digital notes to your Bible. You’ve got it together, Ellie. 🙂

  • I always love your posts. I love this one best.

  • Pete Morey says:

    Right now I am half and half. I am using a digital Bible on my iPad (Olive Tree) but do all of my physical note taking with pencil and paper in Moleskine notebooks. I found I could never write small enough to cram everything into my Bible’s margin anyway! Like you, I am very conscious of leaving these notes behind to my kids so have ended up filling several notebooks with hopefully many more to come.

    Thanks for a great post, today and always.

  • Emily Bair says:

    Great post. I agree; I just cannot use a digital Bible.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Yep, I’ve tried, and I can’t use it as my main way of using the Bible. I’ll look individual verses up, but if I’m really digging in, I need my study Bible. Thanks for the comment, Emily.

  • Ken Keene says:

    Thank you for your subtle witness. Thank you for reminding us that technology is only a tool. The end products are still ideas, which we are charged with helping our students understand.

    • Matt Miller says:

      You’re welcome, Ken, and you’re right … we are still in the business of ideas. That doesn’t change, regardless of what method we’re using to communicate them.

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