Equipped Getting Started Guide – Catholic Schools

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This guide helps Catholic School principals and teachers get started using Equipped Online Formation.

The basis of the Equipped Online Formation platform is Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Catechetical Institute (CI), an online learning management system that delivers training workshops for many vital parish ministries such as PSR, RCIA, and Youth Ministry, and Catholic School Teachers.

Teacher spiritual formation will alternate between CCO Faith Studies in the Fall semester and Equipped Online Formation workshops during the Spring semester.

The cost for an organization, like a parish or Catholic School, to use CI for one year is $300. However, the workshops are free for every parish in the diocese through a grant from the Missouri State Council Knights of Columbus. 

Rather than specify a set number of workshops to take for a certification, we’re taking a different approach–ongoing formation. This is a small commitment to continuing education that lasts as long as a person remains active as a teacher. 

Because formation needs aren’t static but change and grow, we believe ministry skills should continue to grow, as well. We recommend teachers engage in one to two workshops per year. 

How to Get Started

Step 1: Create a Free Account

All learners must have an individual account on the Catechetical Institute platform (franciscanathome.com). A learner is anyone who participates in a workshop in person or online (watching videos, doing tasks, submitting work).

We ask that all faculty create an account, even if you plan to watch the videos in person and discuss them together in a small group. 

That way, the institutional leader (or someone designed by them) can mark equivalencies for workshops the faculty are taking. An equivalency tells the system the workshop is complete even if all the videos and tasks have not been done. 

This allows us to get accurate statistics on how the system is being used for reporting purposes, and it allows the institutional leader to track what workshops are already done. 

If you are planning to ask all participating faculty to watch the videos prior to the learning session, or if you are planning to use any of the online learning management system to receive participant input before or after your session, they definitely need to have an account.

Visit our web page Catechetical Institute Signup Instruction Guide for a detailed screenshot tutorial on how to create free accounts covered under the Knights of Columbus grant. It can be tricky to find the right option.

If you follow this guide, you won’t have to pay.

Please note: If you don’t have an account for each learner, they will not be able to use the mentoring/learner input function discussed later in this guide.

Step 2: Assign a leader

Someone from your school must serve as the institutional leader for the account. A leader has overall control of the organization’s account and controls back end functions like designating and assigning mentors, as well as account maintenance.

The leader can also view stats on who’s taking what workshop and how much they’ve completed. Leaders can even monitor what percentage of the individual videos were watched.

There can be more than one institutional leader per account. This is usually the principal, or someone assisting them, or both. Pastors often like to be leaders as well to personally see how training is going.

To become an institutional leader, you must first have an individual account assigned to the appropriate parish. Once you’re registered, contact Jerri Dowdy at 816-714-2324. She can make that change.

Once you are a leader, you can assign other leaders within your parish’s account.

Step 3: Onboard your learners

As mentioned earlier, everyone will need their own individual account.

Again, consult the signup instruction guide for creating new accounts.

Step 4: Assign mentors

This system is designed to include an online mentoring component. Mentoring is not required to satisfy the spiritual development requirement for Catholic School teachers in our diocese. 

So, if you don’t want to use the online mentoring component, you can skip this section.

If you are interested in developing a mentorship program, the Foundations of Pastoral Accompaniment Track that could be helpful for understanding the mentor’s role and gaining mentoring skills (if you find that these workshops would be useful for your faculty’s needs, you may choose to use one with them as well):

These workshops can be located by scrolling to the bottom of your Dashboard page. In the “Start Learning” section, you will find a column entitled “Workshops.”

Enter the name of the workshop for which you are searching in the “Search by Title” box. Once located, it can be bookmarked to easily find again later in that same section.

If you find another course, not suggested above, that you think will fill your needs, please contact us for guidance.

Please note: if any of the school mentors need help from a diocesan mentor to get started or want to be accompanied through these workshops by a diocesan mentor, contact our office.

Step 5: Decide Which Workshops to Take

Feel free to use this system in whatever way works best for your faculty’s needs.

Ask yourself two questions: 

  1. What do I think my teachers most need to learn? 
  2. What do my teachers think they most need to learn?  

If you decide you would like them to learn how to teach Scripture more effectively, then you might choose to begin with workshops on Scripture. If your faculty would like to learn more about the Catechism, then you might plan a Catechism workshop.

Choose from workshops in the “Catholic School Teacher Track” under the “Institution Tracks” tab on the Dashboard. We selected the workshops in this track because they fit the specific areas of the Five Essential Marks of the Catholic School. 

We suggest you  start with “The Mission of Catholic Schools and the Role of Teachers” It’s under the “Start Here” tab.

The workshops are divided into three groups for your convenience. However, these groups aren’t meant to limit your choice of workshops. You can choose any workshop from any of the groups at any time.

Also, you don’t have to do all the workshops in a group before moving to another one or do them in order.

However, the groups are ordered by hierarchy of importance, with the more foundational workshops first. If you’re interested in exploring the workshops that way, Group One is a great place to start. Then Groups 2 and 3.  

Another option: go through the “Mission of Catholic Schools” workshop as a faculty and determine where your school needs the most work. Then, prioritize the order of workshops taken from that. 

We recommend having your teachers take two workshops per year.

Also, you should encourage teachers to take workshops that interest them. The entire catalog of workshops is open to all participants.

There are more advanced catechetical workshops and philosophy, as well as workshops for parents on how hand on the Faith to their children and general doctrinal topics.

Step 6: Decide How to Organize Training Groups

Flipped Classroom Model

In the Flipped Classroom model, learners watch the videos and answer the tasks on their own, then come together as a group to discuss them with the mentor.

If the group is small, it would be all the teachers together with their group facilitator/mentor leading discussion.

If you have a larger group of teachers and more than one mentor, they could meet in separate groups.

Regular Classroom Model

In this model, everything is done together as a group.

The teachers all meet and watch the videos together. Then, they discuss the tasks as a group, or in groups, without any prior work being done.

Experiment with these different options and find what works best for you and your group.