A Small Glimpse of What Could Be

In my GD class today on AoF 4, I asked if the name John Wentworth meant anything to anyone. A couple of people mentioned the Wentworth letter. I then talked about the letter, some of the other numbered lists of beliefs from the time, and the canonization of the AoF as part of the PoGP. By the time I got to that point, there were three comments from three different guys:

1. Wentworth served as mayor of Chicago–twice.
2. There is a street on the south side of Chicago named Wentworth after him.
3. The Chicago Democrat was published from X to Y (I had mentioned that I didn’t recall its years of publication). Also, Wentworth later changed his party affiliation and became a Republican.

It was great. People were so engaged that they were whipping out their pads and in real time finding enrichment details to add to the lesson, stuff I didn’t even know. It gave me a small glimpse of what GD could be if we challenged our classes more and actually encouraged this kind of real time exploration.


  1. Kevin, I think that’s a great idea. Next time I teach I will really probe the class such that it opens a great historical discussion. Who or what is X and why does X mean anything to us.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    It never really occurred to me before what an untapped resource all the technology in the room is for getting people really interested, engaged and even excited about the material.

  3. It sounds like your building allows members to access the wifi. The wifi passwords throughout our stake are not allowed to be shared. I bring my cell phone and turn on my personal hotspot. I can get a signal in the chapel, but in the RS room in the building to use that way. It would be a nice gesture of trust to allow the password to be freely available for all to use as you mention in the OP.

  4. Shared this with my DH, who was recently called as GD teacher. Thanks – I appreciate your post.

  5. Typing error, I can get a signal in the chapel, but NOT in the RS room…

  6. RuthE: I thought all the Church buildings had the universal wifi password Pioneer47. Did your Stake opt out? Or not get the memo?

  7. This is awesome! Yes.

  8. I will try Pioneer47 next time I’m in the building. Thanks. No there was no memo, but I overheard folks ask for the password only to be told it could not be shared unless one was authorized to use it.

  9. RuthE, it is my understanding, albeit third-hand, that the password is supposed to be available to all members participating in a lesson – that online resources are supposed to be available to anyone with a devise that can access them.

    Kevin, this is an example of why I am so excited about the new resources and embrace of technology linking them to the GD Manual represents.

  10. Sharee Hughes says:

    A few years ago we had a hands-on Family History class during the Sunday School hour and we all had access to the ward wi-fi. I don’t remember what the password was, but I think we just needed it the first time. It sounds great to me that people are able to use technology to increase learning in a class.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I only recently started using the building wifi. I heard that the almost universal password is Pioneer47, I asked our ward clerk who confirmed, and I’ve been able to use it since. I would suggest just giving that a try and it will probably work. My understanding is that the rationale for having a consistent password in our buildings is so that visiting leaders will immediately have access without having to ask around for the local passwords.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    I remember previously in a class mentioning the Anthon Transcript, and someone coming up afterwards with a picture on his pad and asking if that was it. It just never really occurred to me before to encourage real time exploring like that during class, but from what I saw today there is some great potential there.

  13. Further thoughts on technology & church- I’d like to see QR codes displayed on something (a small stand perhaps?) outside of the Chapel so members could scan the code & view the Sacrament meeting program in this way. Maybe all the money we save on paper could be used to re-hire a church custodian.

  14. #8–RuthE– You are authorized to use it! You pay tithing, right? Have a current TR? You are authorized to use it– tell the clerk that the next time you are told that you are not AUTHORIZED to use it.

  15. Benjamin Park says:

    The church wifi is a godsend for my primary class, as I usually use the church’s multimedia stuff every week in to educate/entertain the kids.

  16. Today in priesthood we were discussing Lorenzo Snow’s “As God is…” couplet and someone asked the teacher “Where is that doctrine in the scriptures?”…and the teacher, a stalwart, spiritual guy, kind of hemmed and hawed, with nobody else in class seeming to know or be willing to answer, so I raised my hand and gave a quick overview of the King Follett sermon and some of the reactions it elicited, after which everyone acted impressed like I’d introduced some piece of arcane minutia. Anyway, I’m no historian and this was a class full of mostly RM, married undergrads and I was just surprised at that reaction for what I figured most of them would have known (and in fairness, maybe they did and were just shy). The point is, we totally need more history in Sunday School.

  17. i have not read all the comments yet, but our bishop just announced that the youth may no longer bring any devices to class…i assume the adults will be able to continue…

  18. A Nonny Mouse says:

    I heard that the almost universal password is Pioneer47,

    This is correct. The network is typically named “LDSAccess”.

  19. Pioneer47 is our wifi password too. Remember that the P is capitalized.

  20. Our building’s WiFi password is much longer and more involved than that. It would be nice if they opened it up. I’ve gotten really tired of the old style of lessons and it would be interesting to see if this type of interactive experience provided for a richer discussion.

    Also, WiFi access would have been really helpful last week when I was teaching the 5yo’s about the first vision. Instead of a video and discussion we spent extra time (after library pictures and discussion) making cards for their ill teacher.

  21. it's a series of tubes says:

    Erin – your building is out of date. The Church is gradually deploying (at least for all meetinghouses in the USA) a Cisco firewall and advanced access points in each meeting house. SSID of all the networks is LDSAccess, and the password of all the networks is Pioneer47. The Cisco firewall provides the capability (not yet active, but soon to be active) to have each individual wifi user log in with their LDS.org username and password in order to get access.

  22. Kevin, how large is your class? I’m trying to picture myself as a teacher leading a discussion with a particular teaching purpose, with many of the members not listening or speaking but with their attention on their devices, looking up trivial factoids. I mean, it’s interesting to know that Wentworth was somebody beyond his Joseph Smith connection, but I count hearing that a street is named for him as a distraction rather than a bonus to a gospel discussion. Half a dozen such googlers out of a class of 40 might not be too bad, but out of a class of 20? I’d probably ask them to put their devices away.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    My class is about 40, at present it’s a small number that are using tablets. While some of the specifics were perhaps barely relevant factoids, I liked them because they brought the man home and made him real for us (since we’re in the Chicago area).

  24. As a GD teacher I love this post. I don’t know how many times I sit through lessons and I’m not challenged at all. It’s all the same old hash brought up again and again. Let’s engage us on more than a youth level. We’re not in seminary anymore.

  25. Our Exec Sec asked in Oct who needed a hard copy and who didn’t of the Lorenzo Snow book so they could save budget money and not have so much overstock as they did last year. I would say of the roughly 15 sisters who raised their hands for one, they were evenly divided between those over 65 and those that for economic reasons don’t have them. One of the sisters expressed to me that she is choosing to feed her children rather than get an I-pad and she feels like in our ward, that makes her an outsider. Is anyone else seeing this division?

    Also, when I teach, I make it a point to call on somebody looking at a device to answer my question. I can immediately find out who is studiously following along and the other sheepish looks of those caught doing other things. I’m just doing my part to make sure that we are all edified together. Plus, it’s entertaining for me…

  26. ErinAnn, they just changed the wifi in our building to the pioneer47 password. Try it, it works. Also, having the same wifi network name and password means you don’t have to associate your devices to every new building. I walked into a building in a different stake this last week, and it automatically associated and connected.

    We are also planning on using a shared Evernote Notebook for our ward mission plan and missionary related stuff in our ward, so the whole ward council has access to it. Our stake president is pushing the use of technology generally, including a couple of times, broadcasting over the internet, sessions of stake conference to a distant building.

  27. kc, I haven’t had a telephone — land or mobile, smart or dumb — for many years, at first by economic necessity and later by lifestyle choice. It really can be alienating to be a have-not on something that everyone else assumes is as universal as jeans and t-shirts. I eventually realized that any resentment was my own problem, because other people’s assumptions were in fact completely reasonable in the 21st century in the place where I live, and I’ve worked to control any bad feeling and find workarounds for the inconveniences. From my point of view, I think it’s reasonable to expect to be contacted via email in the 21st century in the place where I live — and I don’t understand why most of the people who refuse to use email don’t feel alienated themselves but instead think *I’m* the unreasonable one!

    Anyway, as you pointed out yourself, your ward member is not alone in her lack of an iPad (or, evidently, a smart phone) — there will always be older people who don’t adopt technology, and others who have no access to or need for technology, and the ward needs to remember that and provide for their needs … just as your Exec Sec was doing when he ordered hard copies for those who wanted them. I think the ward member who feels like an outsider needs to realize that *she* is the only one who can work on her feelings, which may be understandable but still her own responsibility. It’s not like she is being left out of what matters, which in this case is access to the lesson materials.

  28. As teachers you should not depend on Church provided wifi to stream a video, Church video or otherwise. I often get hung up with a 3 minute Mormon message. Unless you have your own source of wifi-3g or 4g-don’t bother including a streaming video as part of your lesson. Hopefully the system will get more reliable since the Church has made a lot of pretty neat content, particularly for primary and youth classes.

    If we have to log in with our member ID and password, that means no more ESPN, WashingtonPost, Drudge or bloggernacle during interminably boring sacrament meeting talks or other lessons. Thank goodness I have my 4g for continued anonymity.

  29. Ryan Mullen says:

    My GD class this week was on “The Return of the Priesthood.” The date May 15, 1829 was given for John’s visitation and the range May 16-28, 1829 suggested for Peter, James and John. It was engaging for me to lookup the timeline of The Book of Mormon translation and see that Joseph & Oliver were translating heavily from April 7 – June 11, 1829. It made sense to me that 45 days into a 90-day translation Joseph & Oliver would be in 3 Nephi since the gold plates were translated starting in Mosiah and ending at Words of Mormon.

  30. Using the monthly theme of the youth curriculum as the basis for our HP Group Leadership lessons on Fast Sunday’s has been an enjoyable process. The churches site offers great resource, conference talks, videos, etc. I know on the videos they strongly note to download a video first to show it during class rather than try to stream it. Works much better. The Group Leadership that I am part of, likes using this theme to make sure the parents have some knowledge of their childrens instruction and can have something similar to talk about. As it was my turn to teach this month, I had prepared to share a couple of the conference talks (printed out, copied, passed to the group as reference for discussion) and I did show one of the recommended videos, actually on a DVD I had in my collection. It was a fun lesson with good interaction. I had chosen to steer the lesson with the material to an intended thought hopefully guided by the Spirit. All went well. We do have a few tablets in our group meeting. One of the brothers in the group is a CIO, a real, corporate Chief Information Officer. He’s great! He’s also our former Bishop. It is so nice to see corporations accepting Apple products into the culture as I am a long time religious zealot on the subject. As our discussion went on, he went to his tablet to look up some material on the theme to add to the discussion. As I mentioned to him as he was clicking away, you know you can turn off that key clicking sound when you type on the tablet, his response was very amusing. Guess I can’t get away with anything from you. All was good. He did actually come up with a paragraph from talk given by Elder Holland that summarized the lesson perfectly. At which point, I thanked him generously and closed the lesson on that point. Love it.