Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Social Networking’

Communicating With New Media Tools

Recently I was reading ” Leadership communication tools” by Nancy Caramanico.  I liked how she highlighted various tools for school educators.  Allow me to mirror her article and focus on Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL’s) Communication Tools.

I totally agree with Nancy when she says, “Communicating in today’s world requires both a new mindset and a new toolset. Like a maestro conducting a symphony, savvy leaders pay attention to the sound, the effect, and the instruments needed to strike just the right notes. “

I would go further to advocate that as you move into this digital communications world, you will need to learn new skills, a new language and digital culture to be an effective church communicator.

As I look back at my beginnings, which go back to 1983, I realize that I have slowly learned new terminology, new skills, and have gradually immersed myself in a digital culture.  I encourage any pastoral  and catechetical leader today to take the needed steps so that you speak the language, engage in the culture, and learn the skills that you need to communicate effectively with your audiences.

So what do you need to be able to engage in today to communicate with others?

10 Tools for Pastoral Communication (Paraphrasing  Nancy’s 10 Tools):

  • Microblogging – Create an account on Twitter. Follow other catechetical and pastoral leaders.  Check out Brad West’s article Go Tweet It On The Mountain Top .Tweet out information about your parish.  Explore use of twitter for conferences or meetings for sharing ideas.
  • Blogging – Write frequent news updates for your parish blog. Follow other Catholics – see the Catholic Blog Directory. Who are the catechetical bloggers? Encourage and read comments. Use Google Blogger, Edublogs or create your own.
  • Podcasting – Create audio messages for playback on web and devices. Use tools such as Audioboo, Audacity
  • Electronic Surveys – Use Zoomerang or Survey Monkey for advanced functionality. Make quality surveys with Google Forms which is free
  • Email – Yes email. It is still a common tools used by many. Regular timely updates seek responses and give responses in a timely fashion. HTML newsletters can be pre-formatted with a consistent design to add appealing design.
  • Learning Management System – This may be the tool that will be a staple to our doing online learning with our students and adults in the near future.  Take time to learn more about Learning Management Systems.
  • Parish or Faith Formation Website – Consistently post updates that are both engaging and informational.  Ask yourself – what content are we sharing with our members online?
  • Facebook – Use Facebook to update parish community on latest faith formation news, photos and videos
  • Video – Use Youtube or other video sharing sites. Broadcast videos about parish events
  • Google alerts – Set up Google Alerts to stay on top of mentions of your parish and other topics of interests to the parish or faith formation community.

If you like this article, click on the “Like” button.  We would love to hear about your experience of using these leadership tools?  Come and Share!

Interactive Connections 2012 Reflections

By:  Guest Blogger – Rhonda Carrier

Rhonda Carrier

The following are some notes from the Interactive Connections Conference and from the Florida Educational Technology Conference. I have not had a chance to visit all of the websites but thought I would pass on those that were highly recommended.

The Interactive Connections conference organized by Sister Caroline was a wonderful gathering of Catholics learning about the use of and implementation of technology to develop and expand our Catholic faith communities.  Many of those attending the Interactive conference stayed to attend FETC but we gathered together each evening as a Catholic group for fellowship and to compare notes and ideas from the day.

Bishop Noonan’s Welcome on Sister Caroline Cerveny’s Cyberpilgrim’s Blog

Fr. Larry Rice’s Keynote and summary of the crises facing the Catholic Church: On the Catholic Couponer’s Blog. Although many of the comments on the blog focus on the use of technology during mass, Fr. Rice’s message included using technology to extend our Catholic communities.  He suggested that we put the bulletin online rather than printing so it can be accessed at any time; allow online discussions so there is two-way communication and not just a one-way push of information; use online databases to gather information; allow online donations and contributions without the need of a signed piece of paper; translate publications into appropriate languages and make them available online; etc. He recommended that we read the book from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

You may wish to review the Media Timeline that Fr. Larry shared with us Monday evening

FETC

Keynote: Michael Wesh, Anthropologist, spoke about the need to move students past being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able which means we need to help them develop their knowledge-ability. We must find ways to inspire them and to bring them to wonder. He said, “A great teacher can bring life into anything. A great teacher can bring wonder into anything. A question inspires wonder and inspires ideas. A question is: a Quest for mastery, Embraces our vulnerability, Invites connections”

  • Wonder flourishes where there in inspiration and where they feel safe. 
  • Quest for mastery requires freedoms to learn
  • Vulnerability requires Freedom to fail
  • Connections require Freedom to love

Empathy is lower than in the past. We see birth and death and life intimately and daily because we live in a “capsular civilization ” with TV, phone, computer.  We are numbing ourselves, which also numbs ourselves to joy. But there is a solution, the media are not just tools, they’re a means of communication. They mediate how we relate. (This brought me back to Fr. Rice’s message to use technology to communicate and to build communities.)

View From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able, an 18-minute video and a short version on TED, of the topic he presented at FETC.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs, President of Curriculum Designers, Inc, presented a keynote session and a breakout session. I attended a workshop of hers several years ago, so was delighted to have a chance to say “hello”. (I have used her curriculum map concepts to organize curriculum since then. The Curriculum by Design presentation that I did for ICS that referenced her work is available for viewing on Slideshare.)

At FETC she asked the following questions:

  • How can we prepare students for the future?
  • Who owns the learning? Do students?
  • 12% of the 21st century is over and students are time traveling. They have 21st century at home but 20th century at school. What year are we preparing student for?

We need to help students with the following:

  1. Social production – Example: Wikipedia
  2. Social networking – Example: Curriculum21.com
  3. Semantic web – At least once a teaching unit, it should be upgraded with a new resource. Have a faculty meeting that just allows teachers to experiment and share new technology. Examples: Tag Galaxy (Enter a word such as childhood, then click on a bubble to go deeper – Wordle.net (creates word clouds) – Zooburst (digital storytelling pop-up books) – Visual Thesaurus  
  4. Digital literacy – related to media literacy – related to global literacy. Examples: Check out Earth Pulse website on national geographic – Gap minder –  Museum Box to replace dioramas –
  5. Global literacy – Brazil has a huge growing economy and middle class. Also Russia and India and China. We don’t study geo enough, we must also study geo literature, geo politics, geo economics. Example: World Mapper (this one is a wow!) -

I was happy to finally meet Kathy Schrock, whose work I have followed and used for many years. Her website is the basis for a large portion of the research model that I use with our students. View Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Almost Everything.

A few other good website to check out are:

What to Avoid in Social Media

As I was reading “Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media” my mind was adapting this article to ministry language.

We are often encouraged to get involved with social media in our catechetical and parish ministries.  Many of our colleagues are blogging, facebook-ing, twitter-ing and more!  Some with a great deal of success and others struggling to leverage the power of social media.  Allow me to reinterpret  what Dawn Papandrea shares in her post.  Here are the top seven things that others are doing wrong.  Here is where you want to do right.  Wonderful suggestions for your success!

1. Boycotting social media

If you’ve avoided setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your ministry, using the excuse that social media is a passing fad, it’s time to join the crowd.  These platforms, and others such as Google+, are here to stay (or at least they’re here until the next big thing comes along), and they’re where your families and students are spending a lot of time.

2. Expecting immediate results

Sorry, but you can’t assume that once you announce to the world that you’re on Facebook, you’ll have all sorts of followers. Social media is all about brand awareness – in ministry terms – it is about creating relationships through technology, engaging your families and students, and building a community–and that takes time!

3. Sounding like a commercial

People will lose interest in your stream pretty quickly if you use your pages to promote, promote, promote. Instead, think of what value you can give to your audience. Perhaps it’s a Scripture quote for the day, or a tip for daily prayer, or inviting Scripture faith-sharing during Advent or Lent.  Once you become a trusted authority, people will stay connected, and you’ll come up on their wall, twitter post or other digital locations. I recently heard about a parish priest who invited those who were interested to be involved in a 10-week Scripture reflection.  200 participants joined him!

4. Not engaging or responding

If you aren’t actively conversing with your network, you’re wasting your time. Make it a point to answer questions about your ministry, or address issues, in a timely manner. Even something as simple as sending out a happy birthday message to your users will let them know you care about them.

5. Letting an intern run your social media

Don’t pass the responsibility of your social media efforts off to someone else, unless you’re sure that person is a good representative of your ministry. While it’s true that social media can take up time, it’s vital that it’s done properly.

6. Being all business, all the time

As relationships develop, it’s great to let your hair down. Let your clients get to know the person who cares about them. For example, many companies on Twitter make it a point to use an employee’s photo, instead of the company logo.  Do you hide who you are with those awful looking digital faceless avatars? A photo of you adds the personal touch!

7. Not targeting the right people

When you’re starting up your pages, it’s great to add your friends and family, to get your numbers up. Ultimately, though, you want to attract your target ministry market. Do this by letting your families know that you’re on social sites. Add the links to your email signature and to your business cards. Put up a poster in your office. And give people an incentive to connect, by offering something of value, like a contest or discount coupon.

Remember to pay attention to your diocesan guidelines regarding your relationship with minors in a social network environment.  Every diocese offers suggestions.  Check out to see how the Diocese of St. Petersburg offers guidance in this area of Social Media.

By avoiding these social media mistakes, you’ll reach more new people, and strengthen relationships with your existing families. And those are results that you’re sure to “like.”

What is the most helpful point for you in this post?  Would love to hear your comments or click on the “like” button if this post is helpful to you!

Have You Heard of Google+ ?

Will G+ be a better option than FB? Who knows right now!

If you’ve noticed news about Google+, it is just around the corner from being launched!  What is Google+? A means for social networking with your friends and colleagues!  Is it different from Facebook?  Of course!  So, it is probably worth checking out.

Rich Jennings, ComputerWorld blogger, is able to send you invites to join the Plus Project Circle.  Check out his article ” Get a Google+ invite here: join Plus project circle.”

Brad West, a nearby blogger who lives in Palm Coast, FL, recently caught my eye with his published eBook titled “The Connected Church” which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).  I’ve been following his blog since I read his book.  His July 15, 2011 post “What is Google+ And Can It Benefit Catholic Parishes”  offers ways a Catholic parish could use this tool.

To learn more about this NEW tool, check out these Google+ videos:

Of course, if you like this article, click the “Like” button, share this post with a friend, or add a comment to engage in the conversation.  Questions are welcomed!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

What technologies for 2011?

Today’s minister is challenged to be skilled in today’s communications technologies!  You can be a catechist, a Catholic School Religion Teacher, Principal, Director of Religious Education, Parish Catechetical Leader, RCIA Director, Youth Minister, Pastor, or any of the ministers that are important to today’s parish life.  However, you live in the 21st Century!  And 21st Century Skills are key to your being relevant today!

So did any of your New Year’s resolutions include learning new technology skills?  If yes, great!  If not, you may want to consider adding to your resolutions list!

Whiteboard and Student

Whiteboard Activity

Realistically, you may never use all of the technologies I will outline for you.  However, you need to be knowledgeable in the following technologies and how the technology could be/might be used in your ministry:

  1. Blogging Knowledge
  2. Online Collaboration & Communication Tools
  3. Database Skills
  4. Google Earth Knowledge
  5. Google Tools Knowledge
  6. IM knowledge
  7. Interactive White Board skills (Eg., Mimeo, SmartBoard, Promethium, and others)
  8. Mobile and Handheld Computing
  9. Presentation Tools
  10. RSS feeds
  11. Social Bookmarking Knowledge
  12. Social Networking Knowledge
  13. Spreadsheets Skills
  14. Video and Podcasting – especially Digital Storytelling
  15. Virtual Worlds
  16. Web Resources in content area
  17. Web Searching skills
  18. Web2.0 Tools
  19. Website design and management skills
  20. Wiki Knowledge

Over the next twenty plus weeks, I will outline for you resources, suggestions, and more for you about each of the technologies.  Remember that “blogging” is about entering into a conversation.  I invite you as readers of this blog, to enter into the sharing of the resources and thoughts and ideas you may have about any of these areas. In this audience, there are already “pioneers” who are integrating many of these technologies into their ministries.  I invite you to share your story, your links so that others may learn from you.

You may also want to quickly assess, where you are at in these skill areas.  Go to – What Technologies Do I Need to Learn This 2011 Year survey.  What is so good to see is that those who have already responded, there are some who are very comfortable with these skills, some moderately comfortable, and others who say “Thanks for putting this survey together—it’s nice to answer questions that show me how much I’d like to learn!” (Anonymous)

What Technologies

What Technologies?

I trust you will enjoy this series!  Many of us may feel like Digital Immigrants.  However, just as it is possible to learn a new language, it is possible to learn and be part of this evolving and growing Digital World.

Please share this blog information with others!  When you click on the “Share” button at the bottom of this page, you can forward this page information via email, FaceBook, or a Tweet!

Share This

Share This

Remember, there are many ways to learn these new skills.  The following are just a few:

  • Ask your sons/daughters, nieces/nephews to mentor you.
  • Invite your Youth Minister and the youth of the parish to create a parish mentor program for catechists and parish ministers who would like to learn more about technology.
  • Follow blog articles and create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) of websites where you can learn more about technology.
  • Attend conferences like INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS, where you can gather with other ministry folks to learn more about technology in ministry
  • Locate YouTube videos to learn how to use a new technology
  • When you attend a Diocesan Resource Day or National Catechetical conference, choose ONE Technology workshop
  • Any other suggestions?  How do you learn new technology skills?

In this wonderful 2011 year, may your resolution to learn new technology skills, bring you closer to blending our wonderful message of hope and love in face-to-face sharing as well as enhancing what you do with digital communications!

Next Week – Blogging Knowledge

Photo Credit: Photography by Cerveny (c) 2010.

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