Manila (Philippines). On 24 April 2021, the Webinar of the Institutions of Higher Studies (ISS – FMA) of Asia was held, organized by the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello Philippines and Papua New Guinea (FIL), on the theme: “Implications of the media and of information technology on integral education.” More than 200 daughters of Mary Help of Christians and educators of ISS – FMA Asia participated, which include six higher education Institutes in India, two in the Philippines, and one in Japan.
The objectives of the Webinar were: to sensitize the FMA and lay educators on the importance of teacher formation in the media and in information technology according to the pedagogy of Don Bosco’s Preventive System; present an overview of media and computer literacy and examine its opportunities and challenges in the context of Salesian Youth Ministry; share good practices and foster collaboration between the members of the ISS – FMA Asia.
Sr. Mabel Pilar, Provincial of the FIL Province, welcomed the participants, reminding them of the importance of digital technologies in the educational mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
Sr. Runita Borja, Councilor for Youth Ministry, quoting Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello as exemplary communicators, explained the relationship between education and communication and how every educational environment is an ecosystem of relationships and encounters. She also recalled the Synod of Bishops on Youth, faith and vocational discernment, saying that the digital environment has been identified as an important space in the world of youth, which offers many possibilities and requires knowledge on the part of educators. “Yet to understand this phenomenon as a whole, we need to realize that, like every human reality, it has its share of limitations and deficiencies.” (Christus Vivit no. 88).
Sr. Debbie Ponsaran, Coordinator of Youth Ministry and Communication of the FIL Province, focused her presentation on how the media and information technologies affect integral education in the light of the principles of Don Bosco’s Preventive System: reason, religion, and loving kindness.
She illustrated the positive aspects of the network and social media and the implications for integral education, addressing some issues: false news and verification of the facts, benefits and risks of Artificial Intelligence, effects of social media on mental health, bullying and addiction, effects of information technology on the ability of young people to make a long-term commitment, and guidelines for a healthy life.
She also posed some challenges for educators:
- form students in critical thinking and provide them with strategies to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate content and skills;
- involve students in an active discussion on the development of Artificial Intelligence and on ethical and social commitment for the common good;
- find ways to acquire technological and human skills;
- identify the skills and competences that allow young people to live with awareness in the context of increasing dependence on Artificial Intelligence and automated machines;
- observe whether educational interventions mediated by user-friendly information technologies help students to become mature, resilient, and strong people;
- guide students to appreciate non-mediated communication, to grow in interpersonal relationships and social skills;
- make family ministry a priority, to contribute to the integral education of students.
The presentation of Sr. Debbie Ponsaran was followed by a debate with questions and insights, moderated by Sr. Teresa Lorenzo, FMA, from which some needs emerged for educators: the need to learn and update oneself; responsibility in media management; the accompaniment of young people; formation in the media for parents.
Sr. Ivone Goulart, FMA, Referent of the Youth Ministry Sector for the ISS-FMA Network, in her presentation spoke of the challenge of educating young people and integrating information technology in schools. She quoted the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio of Pope Paul VI: “Integral human development is a social, pedagogical, and pastoral project”.