Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘RCIA’ Category

Using Facebook During Advent

Many of us have Facebook accounts.  But the question is – How are we using them?  Most of us are using them in a wonderful casual way to stay connected to our family and friends.  That’s great!  That is one of the key reasons we have a Facebook account.

However, once you have a FB account, you can easily set-up a Group!  Yes, there are three types of Facebook Groups:

  • Public (Open): everyone can see the Group, find it in a search and make posts
  • Closed: everyone can see the Group, but only members can see (and make) posts
  • Secret: only members can see the Group, see and make posts

Any of the group styles will work!  It is your choice!  Let’s say you will use the “secret” group option.  To learn more about this type of group, read the Social Media Examiner Post about How to Use Secret Facebook Groups to Enhance Your Business  you’ll notice that a business group may utilize this type of function. As you read this post, allow your imagination to consider how a FB group could be used in your ministry setting with families this Advent season.

To begin the conversation, I’m going to suggest how I would engage families in a weekly reflection on the Sunday Advent Scripture readings using a FB Closed group.  I would:

  • Create a FB group and remember to describe your group and choose and image/photo that will represent the group. (Note – Let’s assume that our parish program registration forms asks for Cell Phone number, email address, FB information, and Twitter handle. )
Description of Faith Parents group.

Group Description

  • Two weeks before the First Week of Advent, using the family email addresses, I would send a “brief” email inviting the families of the children that are in my class to participate with all of us during the Advent Season by taking a few moments out of their busy schedules to read and reflect on the Sunday Scripture readings.  Tell them that there will be a link to the Sunday Readings for them each week.  When they are ready, they can share their comment or question on our special group FB wall. Or, send a flyer home to the parents via your students and include an announcement in your parish bulletin about the group.
  • One day after the email is sent, send a “tweet” and “text message” to invite your parents to read the  email message from you.
  • One Week Before Advent begins: Invite each family to the FB group.
  • Post the Sunday Scripture Readings for the 1st Sunday in Advent, using the link from the USCCB Readings website.
Advent FB Reading

Facebook Closed Group

To get the conversation going, you may have encouraged several of your parents to post their reflection early in the week.  Make sure you check the posts at least once daily and comment back.  Remember, this is a place for a simple online conversation and sharing about what these Scriptures mean to you.

  • At the end of the Advent Season, thank  your parents for their participation in the Advent Scripture sharing.  You may want to use a Zoomerang survey to get feedback about their experience with this online faith sharing activity.
  • I hope that this article has sparked a possibility or two in your imagination.  More importantly, I trust that you will share your story about how you are going to use (or thinking of using) a FB group in your ministry with families, or youth groups (13 and older), or RCIA ministry.  Looking forward to hearing from you!  Join in the conversation!

Remember to click on the “like” button if you like this post.  Or, forward this link to other catechists who would be interested in hosting an Advent online Scripture Reflection group with parents, young adults, and anyone who is interested in sharing online.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Using VoiceThread for Advent Prayer

What is VoiceThread?

In the VoiceThread Workshop handout, it is described –

A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.

One of the best examples I’ve seen is Weather: Art and Poetry by students in Mrs. Mattson’s 3rd Grade class.

Now imagine how you could use this tool for Advent Prayer.

I would encourage you to do the following:

  1. Explain the season of Advent to your students.
  2. Break the class into 4 groups.  Group 1 students will work on prayers for the first week of Advent, Group 2 the second week in Advent, etc.
  3. Guide them in creating an Advent Prayer for their assigned week.
  4. If you do not have computers in the classroom you can –
  • Invite students to write and create their Advent prayer on an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper. Later, you can scan  this image to use in the class Voice Thread.
  • Or, assign the students to work on their prayer at home on their computers, tablets or any other digital tools that can be used to create a JPEG file.  You could use a variety of tools: MS Paint, MS PowerPoint – saving in a JPEG format, or Google Docs – Presentations, or any other tool that allows the student to create a text and graphic file that can be easily saved in a JPEG format.

If you have access to computers during your session, you can create the Advent Prayer during your class.

  1. Where students have an electronic file, guide them how you want to receive this file – via a thumb disk, email you, add to a Dropbox sharing file or any other way that you can easily receive the file from a student.
  2. Once you have the electronic files, you can add these images in the order of Week 1 through Week 4 on the VoiceThread tool.  (Remember you will need to sign-up for an account).  Here is also an opportunity to invite a high school student to work with you on the project.  You can briefly introduce them to VoiceThread and this blog article to become acquainted with the project.
  3. Once you have the Advent VoiceThread set-up, you can add it to your website, class blog, write a short article for your parish bulletin and invite members of your parish and families of your students to come to the Advent VoiceThread to add their comments and/or Advent prayer.

When you have your class Advent VoiceThread online, do come back here to share with us what your class did.  We all would love to hear about this project with your students.

Visit the VoiceThread website to learn more about this wonderful tool.

If you like this post, take a moment to click on the LIKE button below.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

The Complete Catechist Guide To Using Skype

Educators have used many digital  tools in their classrooms. We can learn from them! Edublogger Sue Waters on April 11, 2011 posted a wonderful article outlining everything you need to know about Skype including:

  1. Setting up Skype
  2. Using Skype
  3. To using Skype effectively within your classroom

Thank you Sue for all the helps and hints about Skype.  What we can now focus on is, how might we use SKYPE in the religion classroom or in an adult Faith Formation experience? I’ll begin the conversation and would encourage those who are reading this blog to continue the conversation with your suggestions and ideas.

SKYPE ideas for the Religion classroom

  • Videoconference With SKYPE.  Here is an example of an expert being brought into the classroom.  Perhaps you’re working on a Confirmation project that is focusing on the poor in your town or in a location in another state or country.  Arrange for an interview with a leader from this area to speak with your students about the project.
  • Present a Scripture Story. Through ePals, an educational service that safely links students in the same city or with students in other cultures, locate a religion class in another country.  Agree on the Scripture stories you would like to work on.  Then involve the students in retelling this story as if it were being told today in their country – using the images and symbols that are part of today’s culture.  In addition to discussing the Scripture story, this provides an opportunity for sharing how Jesus is present today in the lives and stories of other cultures.
  • Conference with parents. Whether a parent has to miss a regular sacrament meeting or a concern comes up that requires speaking with a parent, Skype can provide an opportunity to connect with a parent that may not otherwise be available for a conference.
  • What suggestions do you have for using SKYPE in your religious education classroom or program?

Looking forward to hearing your wonderful ideas!

With Holy Week around the corner, circle your calendars to return to ACyberPilgrim blog next week.  I will share a Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion video reflection with you and more…

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Google Tools Knowledge

Google Earth

Entry to Google Earth

When you’re looking for FREE tools, Google provides several options.  Take a moment to learn about the 57 Useful Google Tools You’ve Never Heard Of! Yes, Google has broadened its Internet horizon.  It is not just a search engine!

Google Tools can be an important part of every catechist’s tool kit. All you need is a computer with Internet access in your parish, school, or home.  Often we would like to have our students go beyond what they have learned in the classroom. Or maybe we would like to ENHANCE a class session with technology.

Together, let’s begin a conversation of how we might use or how we have used a Google Tool in catechesis.  This week let’s look at two Google Tools – Reader and Google Earth!

1.      Reader : Use what you learned about RSS Feeds! With RCIA candidates who want to learn more about their faith, demonstrate how they can ADD a subscription for a topic like “Catholic”.  Show them a “Add A Subscription” feature.  Go through the list and talk about how to locate and find “Quality” Catholic blogs.  You may find the USCCB statement, Your Family and Cyberspace helpful to refer to.  This document is a reminder of how we need to carefully choose Catholic content that is web published.

2.      Google Earth : Start with a visit to Google Earth for Educators.  When you are ready, click on the Download link.  To learn more about using Google Earth, go to Build Google Earth Skills.  There is a self-paced tutorial that will provide a great overview of what you are able to do with the Google Earth Tool.  Now let’s think of how to apply this tool while we are teaching our religion classes.

Google Earth for Educators

Let’s consider how we could use this tool during Lent when a pilgrimage to the Holy Land would be most desired.  After you have downloaded the Google Earth app to your computer, load Google Earth on your computer.

a)     In your layers section of Google earth, click on the following (Roads, 3-D Buildings, Ocean, and Gallery):

Google Earth Layers
Layers section of Google Earth

b) In the Search “Fly To” Field type “Jerusalem”

Search for Jerusalem

The "Search" Fly to area

c) Once you have arrived in Jerusalem, Israel hover your mouse over the “Google Earth Community logo ( i ) to locate the “Jerusalem Pool of Siloam (Traditional ) Location.  A window with a photo, links, and a brief explanation will be shown.

Jerusalem
Going to the Pool of Siloam (Traditional)

Pool of Siloam (Traditional)

Visiting the Pool of Siloam

d) Then click on the “Category – Footsteps of Jesus” .  You will be taken to the Footsteps of Jesus website.

Footsteps of Jesus Website

The Footsteps of Jesus web page

d) Once you are here, you can click on the locations.  A photo and brief description will show on your screen.

Jerusalem Visiting Bethany
Visiting Bethany

So now you have a virtual trip to the Holy Land.  Of course, you could just go the Sacred Destinations website.  However, by integrating Google Earth into the lesson, we can get the feeling of what it is like to go from your home city to the city of Jerusalem in Israel.

I would love to hear from my readers how you have been using any of the Google tools in your catechetical ministries.  They are FREE.  Only requiring access to a computer or a smart phone with internet access.  (Yes Google Earth is an iPhone App).

I am looking forward to hearing from you!  We are the pioneers leading the way for others.  It is our sharing with one another that will help each one of us learn new ways to integrate technology into our catechetical ministries.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Encountering a Virtual Mystagogy

Welcome to our guest blogger, Carmen Cayon!

Carmen Cayon

Carmen Cayon

This year I began a new position as Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization. As I gathered the RCIA team I introduced our blog site; Incarnation Catholic RCIA as a tool we could use to better communicate with each other and with our catechumens.

Our Core Team consists of “Digital Immigrants” and the challenge: how to sell these catechists on the value of a blog site. As I reflected on this challenge, I realized that I am part of the problem. I allow my own fears and bias’ to affect the way I think about blogs. Therefore, part of my work has to be to surround myself with digital natives, those whose way of thinking is not impacted by the same fears that I hold for the new frontier our Holy Father calls the “digital continent”.

Areas that I believe our RCIA blog will help our parish:

  • Fosters friendships through continuing dialogue
  • Cultivates a sense of community by getting to know each other’s needs better
  • Provides a way to communicate our mission as Catholics through continuing catechesis
  • Inspires us with the “big picture” by providing a place to post and dialogue about how God communicates his love for us through visible signs.
  • Deepens the Catholic identity experience through links to other valid Catholic sites

 

Being around “Digital Natives” helps me see that the digital continent can be holy ground. We must confront our fears, assess our own biases, and learn from those who have an openness and flexibility toward a new way of being there for one another.

Am I suggesting that we throw out the old ways of communicating; ie, physically gathering each week, emails, sending cards or notes in the mail….absolutely not! Most of our RCIA participants are used to the new way of being community – they “Skype” with their peers regularly, use their cell phones for everything from checking the time to sending instant images of a moment in their day. For this generation, their world is much more interactive that mine was. As noted by Bishop Ron Herzog, USCCB Communication Committee, in his address to the Catholic Bishops at the November 2010 Assembly, “We have to be enculturated. It’s more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It’s learning how to think, live and embrace life on the Digital Continent.”

This is a new kind of evangelization that our Church is calling us to, we must not ignore it!

RCIA Core Team

RCIA Core Team

Carmen Cayon is the Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization at Incarnation Catholic Church, Tampa, Florida.

Next Week – Online Collaboration & Communication Tools

Photo Credit: Photography by Cayon (c) 2010.

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