Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

What is FETC?

FETC-2015

This week I will be in Orlando attending the FETC Conference.  What is FETC?  Well, FETC is the acronym for the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  So why attend FETC?

There are three reasons why I attend:

  1. Outstanding Programming: 200 sessions and 80+ workshops focus on the latest resources and techniques-wikis, blogs, social networking, virtual learning, podcasting along with other hot topics.
  2. Learn from the Experts: K-12 Education technology leaders help you explore current and emerging technologies—and show you how you can apply them to your school challenges.
  3. The FETC 2015 Exhibit Hall and ed-tech marketplace, where you can meet face-to-face with the vendors carrying the technologies you need to know about!

In today’s digital environment, I need to keep developing my Digital Mind.  When I attend our regular conferences – NCCL, NPCD, NFCYM, and others – there are always wonderful technology workshops offered.

However, when I attend an educational technology conference, I am immersed (almost baptized!) in a digital world.  When I first attended an Ed Tech conference in Chicago, back in 1983, I froze at the very entrance of the Exhibit Hall.  I remember being frightened because I knew next to nothing about any type of technology.

Today, I am immersed in a digital world that covers three major areas:

  • Information Technology or IT- IT refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies. Many companies now have IT departments for managing the computers, networks, and other technical areas of their businesses. IT jobs include computer programming, network administration, computer engineering, Web development, technical support, and many other related occupations. Since we live in the “information age,” information technology has become a part of our everyday lives.
  • Communications Technology – Refers to any communication device or application (e.g., Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning.
  • Educational Technology or sometimes called Instructional Technology – The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. Read more here.

I’ve learned that I do not need to master all three areas.  However, I need to understand how these three areas fit into my world.  If I need my computer fixed or networked, I know I need to connect with an IT professional.  In Communications Technology – there are more areas than I need to know – so I pick and choose (e.g., Social Media, Radio, TV, etc.).

However, it is the Educational Technology World where I spend my time.  I have earned an MA in Educational Technology, which has helped me to engage in today’s rapidly changing, wired world.  Today, to become a better catechist requires a hands-on understanding of current technologies and the strategy and skills to integrate them into the learning experience and ministry training. How we teach and form others in their faith in a Digital World is different than when I began teaching or being involved in the parish world.

So, I go to FETC to stretch my mind to learn new methodologies, tools, and processes that include e-learning and more.  I’ve attended this conference on a regular basis since 2003! And if you look at the list of who is invited to attend –

  • Superintendents
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Technology-using Educators
  • District-level Leaders
  • Curriculum Designers
  • Media Specialists
  • Technology Directors/Technologists
  • Instructional Support Staff
  • Non-instructional Support Staff

Yes, it is geared for the school educator.  However, I go to learn what is happening in our schools.  These are the folks who come to our parish programs. And I ask – Can we “Walk their Walk and Talk Their Talk” when it comes to integrating technology into our ministries?

I plan to share more with you from the conference.  So, come back to learn what I’ve discovered.  If you have questions you would like to explore, please ask them in the Comments section of this post.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

I recently discovered Tom Spiglanin’s article “I Believe in the Value of Connectedness” where he characterized the connectedness of the business organization.  In his opening paragraph, he said:

While every organization in the world is unique, most have characteristics in common. Each has its own culture that derives from its mission, vision, values, and the people who work there. Every employee has his or her own roles, responsibilities and work style, but he or she seldom works in isolation, even if working individually. All employees are ultimately connected to one another through a common purpose to succeed and fulfill the mission of the organization. This is the nature of healthy organizations.

people

21st Century Connectedness

As I read Tom’s post, I reflected on the value of connectedness in today’s faith formation world.  Yes, we are a network of learning networks in our neighborhood, city, state, country and around the world.  Once upon a time, learners sat in a one-room school or engaged in learning in a traditional classroom.  Today’s learning environment is now a mesh of traditional and eLearning opportunities. A year ago, I shared the 21st Century Faith Formation: Are We Ready graphic with those who were attending the 2014 Interactive Connections Conference.  As I look at this graphic, I wonder – How do we as formation staff, utilize this ever evolving digital world in our learning ministries? Are we ready for this ever evolving digital environment?

people-faith

A time of exploration and formation

Just as NASA sends rockets out to explore the universe around us, it is time for each of us to launch eLearning opportunities in our own parishes and diocese.  As we launch new initiatives, some will be successful and others will allow us to see that we still have a journey to pursue.

It is a world where we will be immersed in an ever evolving culture, language, and skills.  Many times, after giving a presentation, I’ve had participants come to me and say something like – An excellent presentation, but I did not understand many of the terms that you mentioned.

After hearing similar comments from other workshop attendees, I began Digital Discipleship Boot Camp.  Now, after three years of boot camp training, there are over 250 participants who have been immersed in the digital culture, language, and skills of this evolving Digital World.

What have DDBC participants accomplished? 

Come and visit the DDBC Capstone Projects Page.  Here you will discover that those who have immersed themselves in the Digital Culture, Language, and Skills are today’s Explorers.  They apply what they have learned to their ministry world and created a variety of ways to connect others in parish faith formation.

Read on to see what others have done!  You will see that those who participate in Digital Discipleship Boot Camp do become Digital Disciples.  If you are interested in learning more about DDBC, come and visit the DDBC website. You are invited to share in DDBC Connectedness!  Come join us!

Thank you for reading this post.  You are invited to share how you are connecting others in your parish through digital tools.  We would love to hear from you!

 

Dear wonderful friends,
I want to thank each of you for your wonderful and creative approach to the ever evolving Digital World.  Our ministry is one of communicating the Word!  In today’s digital world we are called to learn more about the Digital Culture, Speak a New Language, and Learn New Skills so that – “Technological innovation as an expression of God-given creativity frames social communication within the divine plan and invites humankind into is as coparticipants through our generativity.”   (Daniella Zsupan-Jerome)

christmas-2014

A few things to watch out for in 2015:

  • ACyberPilgrim articles will resume in 2015, so watch this space.
  • Insights from the Florida Educational Technology Conference will be shared in early February.
  • Watch for news about the 2015 Digital Discipleship Boot Camp training. Now ALL online and our DDBC team has updated the Module assignments and added a new module –  Websites for Ministry

Have a wonderful Christmas break.. I look forward to seeing you in 2015.

Christmas wishes,

Sr. Caroline

Getting Ready for Advent

Note: This blog page is an example for the CATECHIST article “Create an Advent Blog” that models a blog page for a junior high class group during Advent. (Pg. 46 CATECHIST November/December 2014)

As we get ready for Advent, it is a time in which Christians throughout the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Advent is a time of expectation, waiting, and hope.  Let’s watch the video to learn more about this Advent season.

After watching the video, take a moment to answer these questions:

Getting Ready for Advent

Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God’s Word (Lectio Divina) allow yourself time to hear, listen and reflect on the Sunday readings.

First Sunday of Advent Scripture Readings

What is the Lord saying to you in this reading? Take a moment to share your reflection and add your comment below.

Returning soon!

back-soon

There are moments when we just get “over scheduled.”  That happened to me from May through September of this year.  I have been pondering a variety of articles, which are in “draft” form in my mind.  However, as I get ready to share a variety of articles with you, I’d love to hear from you, what you may be interested in learning more about technology in Catechesis and Evangelization.

If you would take a few moments to share your comments and suggestions at the bottom of this page, that would be most appreciated.  Thank you all for your wonderful comments and when I am at one of your conferences, just taking the time to say hello is most appreciated.

 

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.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 886 other followers