Resourcing the contemporary curriculum.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians places great emphasis on the work of education to be realistic and responsive to new local, regional and global demands (MEETYA, 2008).  This emphasis is at the heart of Brisbane Catholic Education’s Learning and Teaching Framework (site accessible only to Brisbane Catholic Education Employees).

“As a Catholic Christian community, we educate all to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as successful, creative and confident, active and informed learners; empowered to shape and enrich our world.”
Learning and Teaching Framework,
Brisbane Catholic Education, 2012

The Religious Education Curriculum continues to deepen the call of educators to be responsive to the contemporary demands of education so to;

“…form students who are challenged to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are literate in the Catholic and broader Christian tradition so that they might participate critically and authentically in faith contexts and wider society.”
Religious Education Archdiocese of Brisbane,
Brisbane Catholic Education, 2013

The classroom teacher of Religious Education must draw on these contextual understandings to access, curate, engage, innovate and collaborate to resource both Religious Education and the Religious Life of the School so students learning experiences are rich, dynamic, engaging and contemporary.


ResourceLink is Brisbane Catholic Education’s contemporary resourcing and information centre, providing staff from Brisbane Catholic Education and Religious Institute schools, the Brisbane Catholic Education Office and other Archdiocesan groups with access to a diverse range of high quality resources to support their work.

Our work is driven by the need to ensure that our physical resources such as DVDs, print texts, puppets, posters, Indigenous Australian realia, interactive kits, music scores, music CDs, prayer and spirituality kits and religious realia as well as our online resources such as eBooks and Audio books (only available to Brisbane Catholic Education staff and students), curated online content, blog and films are easily accessible and user friendly.

Borrowers can access the ResourceLink library catalogue via the Brisbane Catholic Education public page  or via the Brisbane Catholic Education portal or K-web.  Browsing can be done via multiple ways but first a simple key word search will (in most cases) draw suitable results.

If signed in borrowers can book the resource then and there for a time which is suitable for the planning of learning and teaching within the Religious Education classroom.

Whilst the ResourceLink catalogue is one possible way of accessing high quality resources for Religious Education there are many other sources that can be accessed to locate appropriate resources for learning and teaching:

Some of ResourceLink’s favourites are:

The Trove website states that Trove is an exciting, revolutionary and free search service.  With millions of items, Trove is an unrivalled repository of Australian material.  Trove is for all Australians.  Whether you are tracing your family history, doing professional research, reading for pleasure, teaching or studying.

AustralianScreen is a promotional and educational resource providing worldwide online access to information about the Australian film and television industry and is operated by the National Film and Sound Archive.

Scootle is a repository of quality digital resources to support the Australian Curriculum which can be used directly by students and by teachers to learn, teach and collaborate.


The term curator, from its Latin roots means to “take care”.  As educators we often are curating much content, making decisions about the quality and value of resources, text, technology and other learning activities. Sometimes a great resource is located, but when it comes to teach that topic again, it can’t be located again.  With the advent of social bookmarking and other online curation platforms, educators have powerful tools to curate quality digital content.  You can learn more about content curation and online curation strategies and tools at these links.

Kay Oddone (Librarian ResourceLink) and Susanna Di Mauro (Education Officer Information and Systems ResourceLink) promote the idea that anyone can locate resources but it is what an individual does after they locate such a resource that is really exciting.  In their roles with ResourceLink this team of curators work through a specific process to identify and curate quality resources and content.

Firstly it is important to review the resource or content and ask critical questions of it:

  1. What is the focus and scope of the learning?
  2. Who is the target audience for the resource?
  3. Is this resource or content appropriate for our particular context and need?
  4. Is this the best type of resource for this context and need?
  5. Who is the author or creator and are they a reputable authority?
  6. What is the content and is it accurate, current and valuable?
  7. How should users access the resource or content in keeping with appropriate protocols?

Secondly it is important to discern the best way to curate the resources or content for access by students by asking a range of questions:

  • What is the literacy and numeracy levels of the audience?
  • Are there any permissions or security needed to access these resources?
  • What are the logistical implications for users in accessing these resources?
  • How user friendly is the curation tool and is it suitable for the target audience?
  • Is the curation approach in keeping with appropriate copyright and creative commons licencing?

After the content is reviewed and the curation platform has been chosen, teachers and students should be able to access diverse resources or content in a variety of ways given the technological and connected environment of learning today.

There are multitudes of curation tools available for use. Here are some of our favourites:

Pinterest is a really easy to use app, which is very appealing because it is highly visual. Unfortunately recent changes to Pinterest have resulted the need for users to have an account before they can easily view the ‘boards’ or curated items. As account holders must be aged 13 or above, this limits its use with younger students. While it may still be a very useful tool for teachers and older students, we encourage the use of other tools such as Blendspace or Sitehoover for sharing resources with students.

Suitable for secondary students and teaching teams. This online tool will catalogue your texts for you.  Users can then add appropriate ‘tags’ for searching reviews or creating book lists.  These can then be shared with students, colleagues, parents or the wider educational community.

Suitable for primary students, this online tool collates useful websites in one location and is accessible from any computer.

Is suitable for all students. Users can collect, publish, and share curated web content.

Suitable for high school students and educators, users can build engaged audiences through publishing by curation. This is a highly visual tool, with the capacity to add detailed reflections on each ‘scooped’ item.

Suitable for all students to access. Users can organise, explore and share online content by creating content ‘pearls’, which can be displayed in a mindmap style.

Please note that many social media and curation tools require users to be aged 13 and above before creating their own accounts. For younger students, it is suggested that the teacher creates a class account which is co-curated by students, or teachers share their curated lists with students.



A question that we often ask at ResourceLink is how might a resource be used as a way of unpacking multiple ideas or learning within a classroom.  There are so many great texts, resources, DVDs, online content or web tools available that we are often spoilt for choice.  Given this, the old adage “that less is more is something to hold on to.”  Often one resource can open up different learning pathways.  Taking for example Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing*, secondary or primary teachers can use this picture book as a starting point for study in Religious Education, English, History or Visual Arts.
* The book and video of which are available for loan to ResourceLink borrowers.


Some people think that innovation it is outside of their particular experience or skill base.  Everyone can innovate in some way, be it in the manner in which they access or share resources or perhaps through the creation of a resource for learning experiences using mobile technology.


The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians calls educators to be responsive to the contemporary landscape within which they teach (MEETYA 2008).  Educators are challenged to innovate, not only in the approach taken to resourcing but also the approach taken to technology and pedagogy as well.  Ruben R. Puentedura’s model of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition or SAMR, whilst focused on mobile technology, provides a lens to approach resourcing. Quality resources not only enhance student learning, can transform it.  Read more about Puentedura’s model and mobile learning here.

How might you innovate the way you resource for learning and teaching?  Firstly go shopping.  Not to buy anything, but to see how retailers or cafes or restaurants are developing spaces and experiences to engage consumers.  Education, it can be argued, is similar to that experience as educators seek to engage students, and encourage ‘buy-in’. Importantly a significant amount of time should be spent understanding the context of the audience.  Firstly, identify the demands of the curriculum, content areas and achievement standards.  What is required? How is this already taking place?  Is there a need to innovate?  If so why?  Armed with this reflection it is then necessary to consider further the context of the class.   Who are the learners?  What are the individual learning needs?  What are the challenges and opportunities within the school in terms of access to technology?  What are the needs of the school community?

Being responsive to this context, you might substitute a DVD for a reader kit or augment a book with an eBook or modify a learning experience that moves from a re-enactment to a re-development and design and redefine the way students are learning by using technology and resources in a way not done before.



Teaching isn’t done in isolation.  Quality educators are collaborative. Once more the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians challenge educators to develop stronger partnerships (MEETYA 2008).  This is certainly an important part of quality contemporary resourcing.  The value of collaborative partnerships is vital in the delivery of an exciting dynamic learning environment.  Each member of the community has a contribution to make to the dialogue of student achievement within a school – especially the students.

Who might you turn to collaborate with?

  • Assistant Principal Religious Education or Religious Education Coordinator.
  • Teacher Librarian or School Librarian.
  • Colleagues beyond the subject area.
  • Students, parents and family members.
  • The wider community
    • The local parish
    • Local interest groups
    • Other schools
  • The world.

See how other educators are collaborating in a beyond their schools here.  If you are interested in this global collaborative approach to education, learn more from the work of Julie Lindsay at Flat Connections.



Resourcing contemporary learning and teaching requires a renewed approach. If educators are to work towards the goals as outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australian then now is the time to take stock, to reimagine and to see how they can access, curate, engage, innovate and collaborate to work towards supporting student achievement within a contemporary context.

“If school systems are to be able to bring more students than ever before to higher levels of accomplishment than ever before, they will need to do some different things and do them in different ways…”

(Levin, 2007, p 230)


Susanna di Mauro (Education Officer Information and Systems ResourceLink)

Kay Oddone (Librarian ResourceLink)

Benjamin van Trier (Education Officer ResourceLink)


Brisbane Catholic Education (2011) Learning and Teaching Framework, Brisbane, Brisbane Catholic Education.

Brisbane Catholic Education (2013) Religious Education Archdiocese of Brisbane, Brisbane, Brisbane Catholic Education.

Levin, B. (2008). How to change 5000 schools: a practical and positive approach for leading change at every level. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.

MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

Tech Tools for Christmas Classrooms

santa-in-sled-with-reindeer-hiIn the last few weeks of school before Christmas, it is often challenging to find quality resources that are engaging enough to keep over-excited students involved, and yet of educational value. This time of year is also extremely busy for teachers, who are writing reports, devising class groupings for next year, meeting with parents, directing Christmas concerts and more.

To meet the needs of time-poor teachers, I’ve devised a list of apps and digital tools that might be useful for keeping students challenged and engaged right up until the last day of school and even perhaps beyond into the Christmas break; please feel free to share your own ‘lifesavers’ in the comments below!

1. Caritas Advent Calendar

Click to download App or PowerPoint version.

Click to download App or PowerPoint version.

This beautiful Advent Calendar is available as a mobile app for iPad or Android tablets, or as a PowerPoint for those without a mobile device. Beginning December 1st, users are able to click each day on the marked button, and read reflections, consider social justice issues and pray about different causes and concepts. Go to or click on the image to learn more.

2. Holiday Time Machine

This app is amazing, and at 99c, will provide hours of entertainment and learning for students of all ages. This app has over 2500 videos including holiday specials, commercials, music and movie trailers dating from 1896 to 2013. This means students can view anything from original footage of a snowball fight filmed in 1896 to 2013 Christmas television commercial – and so much in between. Needless to say, having this much historical footage at one’s fingertips lends itself to fascinating historical inquiries, awesome visual literacy and critical literacy learning opportunities, comprehension activities, cultural literacy investigations; the list goes on. It also provides wonderful discussion starters for considering how our views of Christmas have changed, whether Christmas has become more commercialised, and how advertising reflects societal mores. Overall, a wonderful tool with many uses, and also entertainment on Christmas day – prompting memories and conversations across the generations! Download the app here.

3. Norad tracks Santa

Click to learn more.

Click to learn more.

Broaden student’s geographic knowledge using the Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command) Santa tracker, which goes live on December 1st. Each day there is a  countdown, different games and activities, videos, music and more.  The site has been updated for 2013, and will feature  a 3D globe and new interactive games. Available as an app in the Windows, Apple and Android stores, it is also online at . Tracking opportunities are also available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+  by  typing “@noradsanta” into each social media tool to begin.

4. Yummy Christmas

Click to access this app.

Click to access this app.

This free app presents very simple recipes to encourage young students to get involved in cooking this Christmas. Cooking offers many learning opportunities, not the least measurement skills and the chance to discuss healthy eating and the importance of a balanced diet during the holidays! The recipes are beautifully presented in a visual format, and feature easily obtained ingredients as well as a focus on healthy choices.

5. Christmas Nativity Scene


Click to download this app.

Another free app, this one would be useful when teaching about the different versions of the Infancy narrative in Luke and Matthew’s Gospels. Students choose from a range of scenes and characters to create a Nativity scene; what they choose to include could be used to determine the differences in the different Gospel versions. Images can be saved to the photo roll on the iPad for easy sharing with others, or to be imported into a different app to be added to further.

On behalf of the ResourceLink team, I would like to thank all of our readers and followers, and wish you all a  very happy Christmas and a refreshing holiday break.  I look forward to sharing more interesting information with you in 2014!

The ASSISI Experience: Animators for Sustainability

You may be thinking that this article will feature reflections on a recent sojourn to one of Umbria’s most beautiful walled cities, the birthplace of St Francis, the ancient city of Assisi.  As magnificent as that beautiful city is and any pilgrim’s journal will recount, this is a reflection of a similar yet different type of ASSISI experience, an experience that engages with Sustainability.

How might we imagine what sustainability is and how might we go about developing a sustainable future.  Alex Steffen an American futurist and co-founder of World Changing  attempts to see a sustainable future in his TED Education Talk below.

Educators are called to engage students in a conversation about sustainability, a conversation that calls all participants to action.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using Instaquote

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using Instaquote

Recently, at Santa Theresa Spirituality Centre, Ormiston, Brisbane,  fifteen participants engaged in a four day retreat experience for Animators of Sustainability facilitated by Luke Edwards of Catholic Earthcare Australia and Megan Seneque, an international systems change consultant.   For Catholic Earthcare Australia, the acronym ASSISIA Strategic Systems-based Integrated Sustainability Initiative is used to name their three-day, transformative process for animators and transformative it was.

After experiencing ASSISI, all participants stated freely that they found themselves in a new place of understanding, seeing the world and becoming much more attuned to sustainability from a Catholic Christian perspective.  All animators would agree that it was a capacity building and worthwhile process. Some animators have been moved to write their reflections of this significant experience.

What was the ASSISI experience like for me?

Alex Collins, Manager from Centacare, Rockhampton Diocese:

I can summarise my experience as one of involution, revolution and evolution.   Involution is that the first twelve hours gave my mind and spirit a workout through reflection and in this process I discovered how many patterns within me as a leader were unfit.  By day four I felt all my paradigms and existing behavioural rituals evolutionising, the experience of listening with an open heart, mind and hands taught me in a new way that what is around me is also inside me.  Becoming an animator has placed me in a new evolutionary point, one that is an invitation to shape shift our vision of sustainability as spirit-nourishing and we have the capacity to welcome others into this new system.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread, Fleet and Security Coordinator – Office Services, Brisbane Catholic Education:

ASSISI gave us a chance for listening, conversation, engaging, sharing thought, reflection, challenges, engaging with new concepts and techniques, confusion, U turns, realisations, “ah-ha” moments, new understandings, deep thinking and moving forward.

Dalveen Fletcher, Year 5 Teacher, St Eugene’s College, Burpengary:

Dalveen, with others from the school community, have developed the Eugreenies’ Community Garden.

This experience for me was very daunting initially.  I felt rather out of my depth, mostly because I’d assumed that everyone else had a far greater understanding of what was being spoken about.  As the days progressed I felt myself at a turning point in my thinking, taking a U-turn as per lots of the diagrams we had investigated in relation to animating change within my own organization.  At the conclusion of our time together I felt re-energised, valued and ready to move forward using many of the new strategies we had talked about.

Dalveen at work in the Eugreenies’ Community Garden

Jenifer Fowler at work in the Eugreenies’ Community Garden

What new learning did you experience?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I learnt far more than I could possibly remember or follow up on without revisiting all the documents we were given.  However, what has stayed very much in my mind is a diagram we looked at, yet another big U that focused on ‘letting go’ and ‘letting come’ as the turning point in animating change.  This has been invaluable in far more situations than I thought possible and I do see a new ‘me’ emerging.  Let’s hope this is also sustainable.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

New concepts, heightened understanding of my role and those of others across the organization.

Kerry Rush, Senior Education Officer Brisbane Catholic Education Office:  Dutton Park:

I learnt many things, but one of my biggest learnings was that transformative change is best brought about by a holistic approach that engages a group or groups towards integrated solutions instead of using a fragmented, pushing through, driving to solution approach that is frequently supported with “so called” consultation processes that arrive at preconceived solutions.   Holistic transformative approaches to change can look like this:  a group or groups of people engaging in generative conversations, appreciative inquiry, attentive listening, that fosters rich and authentic dialogue to co-plan and collaborative act.  Such groups that are working in this way will get to a point of realizing that they know what they don’t know and will freely draw on multi-disciplined knowledge, skills interests and capacities of others to join and support the groups’ initiatives. A holistic notion of sustainability underpins Assisi.   This understanding of sustainability is one that incorporates human, social (cultural/economic/political) and environmental sustainability.  It is not just about caring for the environment, it is about caring for and sustaining all of God’s creation.  In light of this new understanding I was able to self-reflect and critique my own successes and failures to lead sustainable change over the years.

A very accessible text that is pre-requisite reading for the ASSISI program is Denis Edwards’ book, “Jesus in the Natural World”.  It has so many gems about ecological conversion.  Paraphrased from the book’s blurb, ecological conversion requires a radical change of mind and heart.  Such a conversion will lead to a deeper love and respect for all of creation.  This involves moving towards sustainable lifestyle, patterns of production and consumption, economic and political choices.

Watch an interview with Denis Edwards regarding his book “Jesus in the Natural World” below.

Would you recommend the program to anyone else?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I would highly recommend this program to others who are striving to make changes within their own work places.  However, I believe it is best to have others from your own work place with you to complete action plans and start from the same understandings explored during the time together.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread and Kerry Rush:

Absolutely, most definitely!

What does being an ASSISI animator now mean to you?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Being an ASSISI animator means a great deal to me at this time.  The term ‘animator’ means, to me, facilitating changes, not having to make these changes happen all by myself.  I see the role as a person on a journey of change with many like-minded individuals and communities working together to achieve success.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

Communicating from the heart to spread the word about sustainability.

Kerry Rush:

Being an animator for me, still mean having energy for or inspiring energy for something.  It’s also about trusting people, promoting participation and letting go of the way you want things to go.  Also I think the idea of Denis Edwards of seeing things properly with the eyes of wisdom is terrific challenge for animators to aspire to and practise.  This requires seeing all things as loved by God, eyes that listen and connect:  seeing things with loving eyes beyond arrogant, valuing stares and prejudice, beyond the ignorant, blinkered view and position.  Seeing the world in this way is a big challenge.  If only we could buy glasses that enhanced our capacity for eyes of wisdom.

What new processes will you adopt?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Click on the icon above to learn more about this text.

Click on the icon above to learn more about this text.

I have begun to adopt a number of new processes within my school simply by sharing what my time with ASSISI was all about.  I have personally invited many to come to our garden to share the experience and am hopeful that this direct, personal approach will be effective.  I will be using the EATING process but need a much better understand of all areas of this before getting any further that the ‘E’ and the ‘A’!

The EATING approach comes from ‘Kitchen Table Sustainability’ by Wendy Sarkissian et al.  It is an approach that can be used to foster community engagement for sustainability. It is an acronym for Education, Action, Trust, Inclusion, Nourishment and Governance.

Find out about additional resources being used by the team at ResourceLink here.

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

U Theory and being aware of “Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining?”

The U theory comes form the work of Otto Sharmer. It is a theory that assists people to move from reactive quick fixes to generative responses that address the systemic root issues.  It is journey to change that is particularly helpful to those leading change. It is one path with five movements:

  1. Co-initiating: building common intent,
  2. Co-sensing: observe, observe, observe
  3. Presencing: connecting to the common will,
  4. Co-creating: Prototyping the new
  5. Co-evolving: Embody the New ecosystems.

What did you discover about others roles and journeys toward sustainability?

Dalveen Fletcher:

I discovered that other teachers have had a similar journey as me.  I found I am very much not alone in feeling frustrated and not valued for what we have been trying to achieve.  I have importantly discovered that Brisbane Catholic Education is very much on board with striving towards creating a sustainable workplace and that those who attended from the Brisbane Catholic Education Officer are very much valuing the work that is tirelessly being done in schools.  I’ve also just re-read some notes about two different models – one driven by answers and the more favourable one guided by questions.  This is very worthwhile.

How would you do things differently after the ASSISI program?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Perhaps if I had done the ASSISI program years ago before attempting and continuing many sustainability initiatives, I would not have felt so much despair along the way!  I would have found others to come on board and work together to animate many desperately needed changes in our school.  However, having already started the journey, I will take to heart many of the learning experiences we shared.  In particular, I will stop speaking from a place of ‘lack’ and work with who and what we do have.

In what way was the ASSISI experience transformational?

Dalveen Fletcher:

The ASSISI experience has been transformational in creating what I hope is the start of a new and much improved version of ‘me’.  Everything else in going to flow from there!

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink, using Instaquote

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink, using Instaquote

What dreams, preferred futures imaginings did you have or hear articulated at the end of the program?

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

I’d like to see more connections within and between schools.  Networks for the dedicated, creative people with “like minds” across the organization and ecouraging local conversations to start the ball rolling.

Dalveen Fletcher:

Moving forward in a positive manner.  Hoping to achieve my dreamed vision for 2016 where all memebers of the St Eugenes’s College community are at some point and in some way egaging with the understanding of what they are achieving.  Celebrating the achievements and community importance of the Eugreenies’ Community Garden, the profile an value of the project will be further fostered.

Kerry Rush:

Working with groups of people within Brisbane Catholic Educatione and beyond towards (AStrategic Systems based Integrated Sustainability Initiatives, developing great relationships with others, having fun and doing our bit together to educate, inform and enact sustainability the ASSISI way.

What words of wisdom or experiences will you remember?

Dalveen Fletcher:

Authentic! Heritage! Legacy!

Colleen Mullins-Sifread:

“Life can be framed by the conversations you don’t have”.  The phases of U Theory.  Create communities of co-creation.

Kerry Rush:

Let go and see all of Creation with eyes of wisdom.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using WordFoto.

Image created by Ben van Trier, Education Officer ResourceLink using WordFoto.

Faith inspired by contemporary media

Catholic schools are not only places that foster the educational development of students they are increasingly provide the school community, in all its cultural and spiritual diversity, with opportunities to engage with the Catholic Christian Faith Tradition.  In a contemporary context with fewer people regularly attending mass it is often the school that not only teaches the wider school community about religion it also provides the community with religious experience.   It is in this dual nature of the teaching and ministry of Catholic schooling that the wider community needs to be invited into a rich and meaningful dialogue around faith.

Who will be the ‘digital missionaries’ of the church?

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge spoke at Brisbane Catholic Education’s Powerhouse of Leaders 2012, a gathering of the diocese year 12 student leaders (read more about this event in an earlier post) calling those present to be not only leaders of their schools, but also leaders in the Church.  Leading the Church into and onto the ‘digital continent’ is the perfect opportunity for today’s youth in the church to lead.  His Grace asked the student leaders, who will be the ‘digital missionaries’ of the church?  Watch the Archbishop’s homily to hear more of what he shared.

The call to become ‘digital missionaries’ provides school and parish communities with some challenges but also with many exciting new opportunities to reflect and imagine how this might take place.  An aspect of this challenge is the belief that technology can be seen as a way to replace much of what makes life and living so rich and vibrant, especially a catholic Christian life.  So it is important to engage with technology and media in a way that sustainable, American psychologist Sherry Turkle, in her TED Talk Connected, but alone? examines the way technology is used by people to feel connected.  Ultimately Turkle concludes that contemporary technology must be embraced not as an alternative but as a vehicle to deepen traditional experiences.  This is a balance is not commonly achieved in the secular world, but, perhaps this is where these emerging digital missionaries are needed most.

How might this look in a school or parish community? 

Click on the image to access the Religion and Ethics course.

Click on the image to access the Religion and Ethics course.

It is timely to pause and ask the question, how might this look in a school or parish community?  It is also timely to look to those organisations and groups who are engaging with contemporary media and technology in some really exciting ways, locally, nationally and internationally.  You’ll see it’s already happening.

Locally, Brisbane Catholic Education’s newly developed Religion and Ethics course is a quality example of using media to engage and extend students learning with a blend of traditional and contemporary pedagogies and ultimately providing students with a learning experience that challenges students to be active, critical and powerful members of their communities.

The Faith and Life team of the Archdiocese of Brisbane are also engaging with contemporary technologies and media in exciting new ways.  Hosting a YouTube channel means that now the entire diocese and beyond can connect to the Cathedral and Archbishop Mark.  In addition to this, the recently published prayer resource atimeofgrace for the Year of Grace further engages with technology in an exciting way.  Using a variety of prayers and QR codes or links to online content, this resource merges traditional prayer types with contemporary resources and ways of praying.

Nationally the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference host a media blog and a YouTube channel, both of which provide schools and parishes with a wealth of resources, reflections and ideas.

Caritas Australia are successfully using social media to help communicate to the wider community news about their work and to promote their annual Project Compassion.  Students and parishioners can follow Caritas Australia on the official facebook page or twitter account and can watch the many great films made by Caritas Australia via YouTube.

Click on the image to learn more or to download this app.

Click on the image to learn more or to download this app.

Internationally His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has compelled to the church to engage with social networks.  He himself has almost 1.5 Million English speaking followers on his official twitter account and many thousands more followers across His 8 additional non-english accounts.  Follow His Holiness on twitter here You can also down load The Pope App which provides access to news, photos, video and much more.

Also the team of WYD RIO 2013 are engaging with social media in a way that is quite exciting.  With a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, this team are producing and sharing some fresh and youthful media.  Truly engaging and connecting pilgrims in the conversation of World Youth Day 2013 before the official gathering begins later this year.

How can a school or parish compete with large organisations?

Now that you are more aware of how the wider church community is engaging with contemporary media, the question still remains, How might this look for a school or parish?  Most of these sites produce and distribute media are from bigger institutions with budgets and paid staff.  Many can also draw on the services of in-house professional graphic designers.  So how can a school or parish develop media at the same level?  Again turning to contemporary technology and in particular to mobile devices and the wide selection of photographic apps available schools and parishes can produce media at the same level of quality as these groups.  The following brief list is a collection of some great apps that the team at ResourceLink have used to produce quality pieces of media in a faith context.  Such as the reflective image shown.

Basin and Towel prayer/reflection card

  1. Camera+, add vintage filters, frames and text to your photos with this easy to use app.
  2. WordFoto, turn photos into stunning word art!
  3. PicPlayPost, collage and frame together images and video.
  4. InstaQuote create quotes that are easily shared and beautiful.

What’s a way forward?

Harnessing the power contemporary technology combined with the energy and capacity of young and the young at heart, schools and parishes can be inspired to answer the call of both His Holiness Benedict XVI and His Grace Mark Coleridge to boldly lead the church into and onto the digital continent.  By do so schools and parishes will engage their communities in a conversation about their Catholic Christian faith and to do so in ways that have the potential to challenge and transform believers and those seeking faith.

Metamorphosis: the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival

The theme of Metamorphosis captured in the festival advertisement was adopted, as a symbol of the power of film to change us on a deep and somewhat primal level and also inspired ResourceLink to review and refresh the way the festival was structured and delivered, in particularly the way in which we engaged participants in their professional learning.  Adopting a project based approach to replace a traditional model of professional learning about film making and engaging with new media sources to share and reflect about film.  This post will review the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival sharing the successes and learning’s from the journey.

This title is available through Curriculum Press. It is a fabulous resource for all educators. Click the image to purchase or find out more.

While the Film Festival has always been about promoting the use of film in education, an increasingly important part of the program is the student produced films section. This is in recognition of the fact that students now live in a multimodal world, where economic, social, cultural, global and technological changes have reconstructed concepts of literacy, reading, writing and text (Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.1).

If we adopt the definition of literacy put forward by Luke and Freebody in 2009, we see that

‘Literacy is the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional and new communications technologies via spoken, print and multimedia’ (p.9, cited in Anstey and Bull, 2011). Therefore, in order to be considered ‘literate’ in the 21st century, students must be able to access a range of resources, including knowledge of

  • text and context
  • multimedia and technology, and the semiotic systems they employ
  • aesthetics and design
  • social and cultural diversity
  • critical literacy

(Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.8).

Involving students in the planning, scripting, filming, editing and producing of their own films provides many opportunities for each of these resources to be developed.

Students proudly walked the red carpet to present their films.

Traditionally the film festival has hosted a two day course on short film making in conjunction with a screening of student produced short films.  This year the ResourceLink team asked the question how might the student produced films be enhanced through ‘on the job’ professional training and support?  What was found was a significant level of diversity and creativity was shown through the films and more so allowed students and teachers to achieve beyond their own expectations.

Working with teachers and students the team of ResourceLink supported the development of seven short films from three schools.  Our support was three fold: engaging and extending the pre-production phase of film making, supporting filming and providing support in post-production.


This phase began by exposing teachers and students to as many diverse films, reflecting on the stories and messages and examining the technical aspects of the film such as, camera angles, music, costuming and editing techniques.  It was in this phase that students engaged in critical reflection and discussion.  After grounding students in some film theory, students could then begin unpacking the theme in great depth and begin to develop the concepts of their own films.  This for the most part was done without much support from ResourceLink.  Once students had landed their concept it was time for the students to develop a script and to begin storyboarding.  Constantly reviewing and adapting their work until they were ready to film.


Supporting participants as they tackle this phase was perhaps the most fun and tiring phase of the project.  This saw participants to reflect and adapt on the fly as they encountered problems such as poor weather, absent actors, and malfunctioning equipment.  This saw many participants to consider quite creative and clever solutions.

Post Production:

Again supporting participants through this process the team from ResourceLink supported the production teams as they sourced creative commons materials to add the extra professional touches to their works.

The students were thrilled to receive an award acknowledging their movie-making, and also enjoyed a creative activity that saw them create their own origami butterfly, which they labelled with one word or a phrase to describe how the movie making process had changed them. These butterflies formed part of the decoration for the teacher film festival to be held later that afternoon.

As the teachers arrived to a delicious afternoon tea provided by Spoon Deli, they were delighted to see our theme of metamorphosis depicted in the hundreds of origami butterflies that decorated the room. During the evening screening session, we were very lucky to have secured Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor, who provided us with commentary and insight from a non-educational perspective.

During the evening, the teachers were invited to share their thoughts and opinions of the films, and how they might use these or similar short films in their classroom via a BackChannel established using TodaysMeet. The teachers also had the opportunity to post their thoughts to a broader audience via Twitter, using the hash tag #morph2012.

Using a tool such as TodaysMeet allowed the viewers to share their thoughts at the moment that they had them, rather than try to save them until a plenary session after the screenings. By posting to the TodaysMeet stream, teachers were also more willing to add their thoughts, as they did not have to stand up and publicly share them to the large group.  A selection of the TodaysMeet stream can be seen on the right.

The films selected this year were based not only on the theme ‘Metamorphosis’, but also were selected to showcase a variety of film formats and delivery methods. As an encouragement to teachers to consider the quality multimedia available on YouTube, the evening began with the showing of a selection of short films from the Tropfest Short Film Festival YouTube channel. These ranged from the humourous (Boo), to the reflective (My Constellation), from the challenging (RGB) to the inspiring (One Thing).

These short films were followed by another inspiring short film, The Butterfly Circus. Winner of several international awards, including the Clint Eastwood Filmmaker Award, The Butterfly Circus is a beautiful story of how a young man with what seems to be overwhelming disabilities (he has no limbs) is given the opportunity to dream of a future he thought would never be possible.

The possibilities for the way this film could be used in the classroom are endless. As teachers observed, it could be seen as a re-interpretation of the Easter Story, and the role of the Showman could be seen as a Jesus figure, taking those who had been cast off by society and showing them their beauty and their worth. The direct links to the theme Metamorphosis were unmistakeable, even to the point of the presence of a butterfly making its transformation just as the human characters did also.

After a delicious hot meal from AbFab Catering and great discussion over dinner, the teachers returned to the lolly buffet to stock up on readiness for the final movie.

The feature film of the night, We Bought a Zoo tells the true story of a family who bought and rebuilt a rundown zoo. Although the Hollywood treatment neglects some of the real life challenges of such a purchase (in the film, the decision to buy is made on the spot, whereas in real life, the process of purchasing took over 2 years), the film does focus on the metamorphosis of the family, as they move from a place of darkness and grief into a new life full of possibility.

 The film was then reviewed in a ‘Margaret and David’ style (from ABC’s At the Movies), as Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor discussed the themes of the movie. Of note was the use of the soundtrack, and the way that movie and music can sometimes be used to engage students in areas where more direct approaches might fail. Also discussed was how rich, quality media is available in many forms, some of which are listed below.

The evening was wrapped up by our Senior Education Officer, Kerry Rush. A great day, a fun evening and a lot of learning sums up the Film Festival once more for another year.


Bull, Geoff, and Michele Anstey. Evolving pedagogies: reading and writing in a multimodal world. Carlton South, Vic.: Education Services Australia, 2010. Print.

Powerhouse of Leaders – Student Leadership and Faith Formation

Last week Brisbane Catholic Education hosted the Powerhouse of Leaders event at the Brisbane Powerhouse.Powerhouse of Leaders

It was the third time we had run this event, and by far the best. It aims to inspire our Year 12 school leaders to not only connect with the Catholic Church and experience quality liturgy and celebration, but also to engage them with how they can use their roles as school leaders to empower their fellow students. Throughout the day, the students, who come from across the Brisbane Archdiocese, are challenged to explore their potential.

This year, after an atmostpheric Welcome to Country, the students and teachers participated in a liturgy led by our new Archbishop, His Grace Mark Coleridge, in his first official event in his new role.  His Grace told the group of Year 12’s that they are not just the church of the future, but the church now – and that one of the things God is asking is that young people provide leadership in the Church. This leadership is what he saw at the World Youth Day gathering. Archbishop Coleridge went on to say that just as we refresh the screen on our computers, the Church sometimes requires refreshing also, and that young people are the ‘refresh button’ that will enable the church to remain new.  He also spent time explaining to the students that as Digital Natives, the Year 12 leaders would be able to lead the Church into the future, and be missionaries in this new Digital Continent that Pope Benedict has spoken of.

We had the amazing gospel singing of  Vocal Rush, supporting talented students from our schools lifting the liturgy with their magical voices, and first class multimedia produced by Smoke Creative.

After this, the students and teachers laughed and cried along with the two keynote speakers, Khoa Doh and Robyn Moore.

Khoa recounted his fascinating life story, and shared with the students his irrepressible optimism and passion for helping others. His determination to succeed and to share this success with his family and with others who also face obstacles in their lives inspired the students, who shared their thoughts using Twitter and Todays Meet in an activity after he spoke.

Lunchtime saw the students party with Bang Crash Tap, and just chill out and enjoy the beautiful weather in New Farm Park, meeting new friends from across the Archdiocese.

In the afternoon, Robyn Moore captured the student’s imaginations, and the awe and delighted surprise that was palpable when she revealed to them that she was the voice of Blinky Bill was incredible. Using warmth, humour and plain old common sense, Robyn gave the students many ways to deal with the ‘Crap’ life can deal any of us, and her passion for her work was obvious.

As the students ended their day with a closing liturgy and a boogie along with the Rush band, it was clear to see from their faces that they had participated in what was for them, a transformational event.


For those who may have missed it, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has spoken about his vision for the Brisbane Archdiocese in his Press Conference with Apostolic Administrator Geoffrey Jarrett at Wynberg, Brisbane, Queensland, 4 April, 2012. View it here: