There’s an Ambo in my iPhone

Student scans QR codeThe last place most folks would want their phone to be flaunted is in church. Recently, though, Oak Knoll students in grade nine have been encouraged to use them conspicuously in the chapel. What’s more surprising is that they are encouraged to do so by their theology teacher.

Lisa Durant, Upper School Theology Teacher, is behind this seeming heresy. She is doing it in the name of religion, however, and using additional technology to boot. When chapel is not in session, she is affixing QR codes to items throughout the sanctuary so that students can scan them and link to explanations that define the objects. Many objects are visibly familiar to students from their regular attendance at Mass but they may not know their history and nomenclature, and may not have seen them up close. During the liturgy, for example, students may have seen the raised stand used for reading the Gospel but not known it was called an ambo. They may also not know the terms chasuble, thurible, cruet, monstrance, paten, alb, or ciborium.

A simple scan of the QR code attached to each object takes students to a photo, definition, and explanation of use for each object. As they participate in this QR code scavenger hunt, their ultimate goal is to complete a worksheet and assemble a book documenting the various objects used in Mass that they will read to students in grade two. The books will be titled “Things I See and the Places I See Them in Mass.”

“There was always a unit in my theology class on items in a church and their makeup as well as  the architecture of the church and how it’s established,” said Durant. “I took that idea and thought, ‘Well, they love their phones … What if I could attach a QR code to each of the items and that would be their interactive entry to each object? The students are loving it. They are so engaged because they are in charge of their learning, and can explore at their own pace.”

Try a few for yourself:

Students performing community service