Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

building-disciples

 

Today’s students have numerous gadgets in their pockets and backpacks – primarily smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Yet, have we considered how we could utilize these tools in faith formation? Perhaps you are just getting curious about how you could use these tools with your students.

In our curiosity, first determine the type of technological approach you would like to implement by considering the acronym SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Dominic Norrish in a recent post “Classroom practice – Power up to become a tech-savvy teacher” explains the SAMR acronym:

  • Substitution is where the technology does little to improve the learning process for the child, instead simply swapping one tool (a pencil) for another (Microsoft Word) with no change in the task (writing a story.)
  • Augmentation is still substitution, but you get a little more functionality for your time. Let’s say your pupils are drawing using Photoshop. The process may be easily editable (they don’t have to start from scratch) and quicker, so there are gains, but fundamentally the student is still completing the same assignment: drawing a picture.
  • Modification is where technology begins to change the way a task is taken on. For example, making audio recordings or videos of presentations so they can be referred to later or shared with absent classmates.
  • Redefinition is where technology really comes into its own. Here, the way a subject or task is managed is fundamentally changed. This could be the use of video conferencing to work collaboratively with classes across the world, or students creating story walks in the community where the narrative and instructions to reach the next point of the journey can be downloaded to iPads at certain GPS points.

Substitution or Augmentation styles of using technology really do not improve or change what we do in the classroom. Overall, we have access to a tool and use it instead of a pencil or it simply replaces how we do the task. The task at hand with today’s technology is to engage our students in participating as Digital Disciples to share their faith with others. The Architecture of Participation offers us new ways to consider using Web 2.0 learning technologies.

Steve-Wheeler

As I become more and more comfortable with Learning 2.0 technologies, I ask:

  • Am I facilitating a learning experience so that my students are able to learn more about their faith in a digital world?
  • Are they able to curate online materials so that they are able to identify reliable Catholic Internet content? After all, they often search for their information online!
  • Do I engage my students in using social bookmarking tools to tag and bookmark available digital resources? Could this be an opportunity to begin creating their lifelong digital library for faith formation?
  • Are we using news aggregator tools to follow faith news in blogs, online newspapers, podcasts and video blogs (vlogs)? Are we aware of current church news?
  • Am I using social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to engage our adolescent students in sharing and amplifying what they are learning about their faith with others?
  • How am I engaging my students to collaborate with others in social justice issues by using technology?

I believe that our job today as faith facilitators is to engage our students in learning their faith, and using the digital tools that we have at hand to share what they have learned with others. If and only if I take time to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, will I be ready to engage others in learning and sharing their faith. This is a time to pioneer and share our best practices with one another.

I invite you to consider how during the summer you will learn more about this digital world. Come back and share what is exciting you in this ever evolving digital world.

Resources for you:

Social Media Aggregation Tools

Aggregator options

11 Based tools for online surveys

 

VolunteerSpot - Free Signup Sheets and Scheduling

Church ministry is nothing if not a hands-on effort requiring deep collaboration from the congregation. Getting scheduled and staying organized when it comes to volunteer and parent-supported events and activities is a snap with free online signup sheets & scheduling tools from VolunteerSpot.com

VolunteerSpot helps congregation members easily sign up to participate and pitch in with seasonal and ongoing church activities – think acolytes, ushers, Easter egg hunts, potlucks, VBS, service days and more. ParentsVBS Signup Sheet and volunteers can quickly choose what to do or to bring with a few clicks on their computer or mobile device; confirmation and reminder messages are then sent automatically to help people stay on track. Congregation participants also have the ability to swap their spots or sync their commitments to their electronic calendars with the click of a button – and they never need to register a formal account or keep a password.

Applications:

  • Vacation Bible School
  • Parish carnival volunteers
  • Potlucks, picnics & meal circles
  • Ushers, greeters & fellowship volunteers
  • Retreats, conferences, mission trips
  • Sunday school snacks & helpers
  • Outreach ministry & service days
  • Prayer circles

Ministry and committee coordinators can easily schedule volunteer needs for one-time events or multi-day activities. When planning activities with multiple shifts (conferences, carnival booths, etc.), a handy ‘Auto-Fill” feature makes it easy to pre-fill times and even schedule a short break in between.

VolunteerSpot offers multiple ways to recruit and invite participants to your online signups too – including personal email invitations, sharable newsletter, Facebook or Twitter links, or via “Group Pages”, customized with a church logo.  A Group Page lets organizers post multiple activity signups in one place and then embeds into your church website with a button or i-frame.

VolunteerSpot’s free iPad app “Clipboard” mimics a traditional clipboard signup sheet and makes it easy for congregation members to sign up in person during gatherings and meetings.  Or, if you have a completed paper signup sheet already, you can enter assignments directly into the system. Reporting, messaging and customizable alerts also make this tool a time-saving instrument of communication for your congregation, a necessity in this digital age.

KID MIN ipad

Count on a greater volunteer response, more participation from your congregation, and a less stressful management experience with VolunteerSpot’s streamlined signups and volunteer calendars.

Click Here to try a live demo.

 

Note: Thank you to Karen Bantuveris and Jessica Young for sharing the article about the Volunteer Spot website.

Stations of the Cross

As Holy Week approaches, we will take time to remember the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus through the Stations. Why are the stations part of our prayer? It allows us to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.

Following is a suggestion to engage your students in preparing to pray the stations in church:

  • Look over the following Stations of the Cross, and determine which one is best used with your students. You can assign ONE station per small group of students or if you have a small group of students, you can assign a couple of stations per group. This is their background information for the station.

Creighton University Ministry Stations
USCCB Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross Especially for Children
Stations of the Cross: A Devotional Guide for Lent and Holy Week

  • After assigning a station to a small group of students, ask them to draw or choose an image that represents the station. Invite them to prepare a short meditation and prayer (one or two sentences) for the station they have been assigned. There are various ways they can create their image from drawing their station on paper and then scanning to an electronic format, or using electronic drawing tools to create their drawing, or simply going over to church to photograph the station that they have been assigned.

(Or you may work with your Youth Ministry group, to have students photograph the Stations of the Cross that are in your parish church and to organize them in a Dropbox folder so that your students will have access to the Station of the Cross images from your church.)

Example of a PPT Station Template

Example of a PPT Station Template

  • Using PowerPoint (You may want to use the suggested template or you may wish to design a template) invite your students to create a PPT slide that represents the Station that they have been asked to prepare and add the image, reflection, and prayer.
Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

  • Save the slide in two formats – 1) the usual PPT format and 2) the JPG format using the “Save As” function and for a File name use the format of Slide # (the number of the Station) so you will have files named Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, etc. For FILE TYPE, choose – JPEG File International Format.
  • Now that you have the slides in a graphic JPEG format that can be used by video tools like Animoto and 30 Hands, you are ready to create a video meditation that can be shared on your parish website. Or once uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, you can share the link with your families on the parish Facebook page or Tweet the link out to the world.

If you are not familiar with the suggested tools, you will find an introduction to these tools at the Catechesis 2.0 blog. Come and visit:

Animoto 
30 Hands

The FREE Animoto will only allow you to create a 30-second video. So, to do a longer video, you will need to purchase either a monthly subscription for $5.00 or an annual subscription for $30. I love this tool and have found that the annual investment is a wise decision. 30 Hands Mobile is a FREE app for those using a smartphone, iPad or tablet computer. Check out the 30 Hands website for additional information.

What is so helpful about this activity is that you are engaging your students in a traditional prayer experience of the church – The Stations of the Cross – by using the technology that they are very comfortable with.

You may also wish to review the following blog pages:
Stations of the Cross and Virtual Journeys, and
Stations of the Cross Multimedia for Lent

Blessings as we prepare to enter into this time of remembering the gift of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus!

© Caroline Cerveny , SSJ-TOSF

weconnect-6

There are many parishes in our church with limited funds, limited staff, and would love to have a nice looking website. On Friday, March 28, 2014 I attended Websites Without a Lot of Work workshop hosted by the Diocese of St. Petersburg at the Bethany Center.

As I listened to Tim Potrikus, Vice President, Liturgical Publications, I began imagining the audience We Connect, a web Content Management System (CMS),  is designed for.

Are you the audience for this tool?  Possibly!  Now ask yourself a few questions, and answer with a Yes or No!

  1. We have a small budget for our parish website?
  2. We do not have a salary for a full time web master?
  3. It is time to involve our parish staff or parish organizations to be responsible for adding current information to our parish website?
  4. We’re looking for a web content tool that is easy to use and allows multi-contributors?
  5. We like the ability for assistance from a human person instead of hunting through a “Help” website?

If you answered “Yes” to at least four of these questions, I would encourage you to learn more about this very helpful tool. For parishes that are looking for a web presence, the templates and options that are offered to you give you a good start!

If you are saying that I do not have time to learn how to do this, I suggest the following:

  • Register for a webinar that will give you an overview of the tool. We Connect Webinars.
  • After you register for the webinar, send an email to Tim Potrikus at (tpotrikus@4LPi.com).  In the SUBJECT Line, just add BOOTCAMP with a message that you have registered for the webinar. Tim will arrange for a 30-day free trial for you.
  • During the trial period, initially, set-aside 1 to 4 hours to just get acquainted with the tool.  Each person is different, so if you need a longer time to learn the tool, go for it!
  • Once you are comfortable with the tool, use your parish bulletin to add the basic information related to your parish: Mission Statement, Mass times, etc.
  •  If you are a Youth Minister, or DRE/PCL, or Adult Formation Person, outline what information you want to include for your ministry area.
  • When you are ready, go to your online working space and add the information for your ministry area. (E.g., Brief description of your ministry, online registration forms, calendar, etc.).
  •  Once you are comfortable with what you have created, determine how you will share what you have done with your parish staff. Show them what you have created.
  •  What’s your goal? To get your parish staff excited about how easy it is to learn and create a parish web presence with a “team” of staff members involved in sharing the needed information about their ministries.
  • Be a cheer leader; tell folks that this was relatively easy to learn.  You do not need to be a rocket scientist to do this! (Note: In this 21st Century, it is time to include in our job positions something like the following: Able to write, edit, and enter website content using a Content Management System. (e.g., We Connect, WordPress, and other website tools).

The cost for the CMS is reasonable! There is a one-time setup and activation fee ($995) but there is no long term contract commitment.  This includes access to help desk assistance with a WeConnect staff person.

Once it is clear that a web content manager tool is taking the place of a FULL TIME WEBMASTER, your parish team, which you could call a Digital Discipleship Committee, would meet from time to time to encourage and support one another as together you continue to learn how to communicate to your parish using web tools.

As you slowly learn more about website ministry, you will be able to craft the messages that your parish community needs.

To learn more about the WeConnect web content management system tool, go to: We Connect.

You may also enjoy the Building a Great Church Website PowerPoint.

If you have a moment, check out the parish websites that have been built with the WeConnect Content Management System (CMS):

St. Matthew Website

St. Matthew Church

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton

 

TY-Sister

National Catholic Sisters Week  is launching this year during the second week of March (March 8-14) as part of National Women’s History Month.

As I read the NCR article, I was excited about the following –

In an attempt to record untold stories by women who have served for decades in challenging ministries, St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota is sponsoring a student-led initiative. Students are producing interviews or short films about sisters they know to create an extensive oral history.

“As a student producer I will connect with a sister and hear her story,” said St. Catherine student Dominique Caya. “Not by just asking her in an interview style, though that will be part of it, but more, getting to know her on a personal level. While doing this I will blog about it, either in writing or video, and post my sister’s story on social media.”

This would be a wonderful project for any religious education class (schools or parish catechetical programs) to engage in.  Many of our religious education students are creating videos in their everyday classes.  Why not invite them to share their talents in creating video stories of sisters they may know or may be meeting for the first time.

If you’re not sure how to conduct this type of project with your students, the following links will help you:

You may also wish to visit “SisterStories: How Did I Know” website.  There are some wonderful suggestions here for you to celebrate the gift of religious women in our church.

(c) 2014 Cerveny

Lent Challenges

Credit: Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ

Credit: Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ

Lent is that wonderful season where we do penance!  And what we do as penance will be different for each person.

Those who are immersed in “technology” on a daily basis may decide to retreat from their devices for a period of time as a penance. That’s reasonable!

However, I would encourage all who have digital devices, to determine how they could use their tool to enhance their understanding of Lent  and to be a Digital Disciple.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • VIDEOS – Once a week or once a day, view a video around a Lent theme.  If you join Digital Catechesis (digitalcatechesis.ning.com) – It’s FREE! – You can search the video library to locate videos that others have found inspirational for the Lent Liturgical Season.

An example of a video in this library is A Lenten Meditation.  Take a moment to view it and savor the message.

  • If you discover additional videos that are not included in this video library as you search the You Tube videos, come and ADD them to the Digital Catechesis video library.
  • After you have viewed a video, determine who and how you would like to share it with. If you have a Facebook page, share the link with a short message from you with your FB friends.
  • If you have a Twitter account, prepare a 140 character message, including the video link in a bit.ly format that will share this video with your Twitter followers.
  • USCCB Website – At this website you will locate a “Printable Calendar for Lent.” A daily message is here with references to other sites for additional reflection materials.  You can easily find the daily Lent readings here.  Looking for resources about Lent, just go to the “search” field and type in “Lent.” You will discover some wonderful LENT resources here.

I’m sure there are other ways we can be Digital Disciples with one another during this Lenten Season.  I’d love to hear how you will use technology to be part of enhancing the Lent experience of your family and friends. I invite you to share your experiences by commenting on this blog post.

© Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

Paul with Grandkids and iPad

As I was reading Isaac Pineda’s blog post “3 New Year’s resolutions educators should consider,” I thought – What New Year resolutions do we need to inspire our catechists in this wonderful 2014?

I invite you to share this post with your catechists, as we are in a year where the Digital Culture will continue to surround our ministry.  We need to become Digital and Connected Disciples!

Become a connected catechist.

I love what Isaac says – “Becoming a connected educator (catechist) is one of the widest decisions that will have an impact on you, the kids you teach and everyone around you.  But, what does it mean? It’s simply harnessing the power of technology to leverage your instructions.  It’s incorporating technology in your teaching practice to boost student engagement and motivation.  It’s a commitment to become a lifelong learner.”

How can we do this?  Someone in the parish needs to lead others to become “connected catechists”.  It may be your DRE, or there may be a tech savvy catechist who collaborates with the parish DRE and mentors others in the parish to improve their technology skills.  One of the best training programs is Digital Discipleship Boot Camp.  Read 21 Inspiring Messages and hear from those who have completed this training.

This program is now completely ONLINE and can be completed from the comfort of your home or office. The Winter Session begins on February 4, 2014 and the Summer Session begins on June 10.  Check out the schedule and register here. Of course, if you would like a trainer to come to your location, we can work with you in a blended format where Modules One and Two are presented at a location of your choice and the other modules are presented online.

Once you are a connected catechist, then you become the pioneer, adapting what you have learned to enhance what you do in your classroom.  Come and visit the following websites:

  • Catechesis 2.0 – Several bloggers share tools that can be easily used for Digital Storytellling and more.
  • ACyberPilgrim –  a conversation about Digital Discipleship
  • Digital Catechesis  – A worldwide community for advancing the effective use of technology in all areas of faith formation.  There is a wonderful video library here that members of this online group have shared and used in their ministries.

I invite you to come back to any of the three blogs to share your story of becoming a connected catechist.  We need to inspire one another on this new journey!  In this New Year, do resolve to learn all that you are able so that you can truly inspire your students to become Digital Disciples in this ever evolving Digital World!

Happy New Year!

HNYear-2014

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