Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Hello world!

It’s been several months – I’ve been pondering and thinking about beginning a blog!  Well, today’s the day!  I’m starting!  Perhaps the best story to begin this blog with is to go back to 1983 when I was in line at a Radio Shack store in Hyde Park, Chicago.  A young man, about twelve or thirteen years of age was in front of me.  He carried on a conversation with the associate!  When I arrived at the counter to pay my bill, I must have had this blank look on my face, as the associate said, “Miss, are you okay?”

When I said that I didn’t understand a word the two of them were talking about, he grinned from ear to ear and said, “Well, go talk to Joseph.  He’s in the corner working on the computer.  He’ll explain everything to you.”

After I paid my bill, I walked over to the corner where Joseph was working on a Tandy Computer.  Forty-five minutes later I walked out of the store.  I stood on the sidewalk in front of the store for several minutes, muttering to myself “Caroline you’re outdated!”

Yes, it was the feeling of not knowing a thing about the computer that this young man was so comfortable with that motivated me to learn more about the computer.  Perhaps that is where we can start this conversation – Where did you first become aware of the gap between yourself and what we call today our wonderful Digital Natives?

I’d love to hear your story!  As I continue to share my story, I’ll also share a journey with you of how I am involved in faith-based educational technology ministry.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Comments on: "Hello world!" (33)

  1. David Loftus said:

    Welcome, Caroline, to the world of blogging! 🙂 Have a blast!!!

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere, Caroline! I’m looking forward to reading your insights here at your new blog. Good luck, happy blogging.

  3. Thanks Jared and David! This should be fun!

  4. Caroline, Great to see you in the blogosphere. Look forward to insights and more conversations. Peace, Patrick

  5. Welcome to the conversation, Sr. Caroline!

  6. Joyce Donahue said:

    Welcome, Sister Caroline! Blogging can be a fun way to share and be shared.

    Story? Well, we are all different. As a baby-boomer who was one of the student “guinea pigs” for the PLATO learning system – the first computer-assisted learning experiment at the University of Illinois in the early 1970’s, I guess I have never really felt “unplugged”. (Our “reward” for participating in the experimental multiple choice sessions back then was to be allowed to play a very slow version of “Pong” on the terminals!)

    I remember loving working with the U of I Library computerized search interface in the mid-70’s In graduate school, I was keenly interested in the debate about moving from mainframe machines to PC’s. I learned to use an IBM floppy-drive PC in the mid-1980’s, have used computers at work and in ministry ever since. I have have had a personal computer at home since the early 90’s, when I spent many hours playing Myst and Hero’s Quest on it with my sons.

    Over the past few years, I have used Skype to communicate with my son in the Air Force, and I just graduated from a smart-phone to my first Android-based phone last week. While I don’t see myself necessarily as an “early adopter” I think I have been fascinated and plugged in for pretty much all my adult life. I have been able to do everything from change a battery in a PC to reformat a hard drive on my own and I have not felt too far behind the kids.

    Why do I love computers and technology? When it was a web-based world, it was all about feeding my inner information-junkie – I simply love knowing stuff. Now that it’s a social-networking world, I am on Facbook and my Google Reader, currently following 160 blogs, almost all my waking hours (at least in the background) – keeping up with the latest news, ministry ideas, info and tech ideas.

    I may be a digital immigrant, but I crossed the border into cyberspace as a young adult, so I am not far behind the “natives”. Maybe I didn’t have this in my life as a child, but it’s a world I feel very comfortable in.

  7. Hi Caroline! Welcome to the world of blogging! Looking forward to hearing your story.

    I’m not a digital native but I started fairly early. It was 1990 when I joined the Navy and had to start writing reports. Everyone was using “Word Star” on PC’s. They were DOS based 386’s with floppy drives and 512k of memory, but man did they make typing those reports easier! I’ve been hooked ever since!

  8. Hi Joyce and Marc, I love your stories! We may be Digital Immigrants, however I love Joyce’s line – “I am not far behind the ‘natives.'”

  9. Caroline, great start. I look forward to reading your work. Blogging is so much fun !

  10. I am so glad you are blogging! I did for a while, but found the folks I was trying to connect with were all on Facebook. I hope you get really good response. As to your question, I am one of the unusual ones of my generation. I tend to be more techie than my young adult children. I think it may be due to my early study of music. Seems a very similar part of the brain is involved in both. I love the way we are able to connect here no matter where we happen to be physically! Peace, Leisa Anslinger

    • Leisa, So good to hear from you. It’s wonderful how we are able to connect today in this virtual world. It’s interesting to learn what works for one audience may not work for another. I love this pioneering time!

    • Joyce Donahue said:

      Interesting, Leisa – maybe the musical ability is related to the ability to self-develop tech skills. I am a musician as well. I do tend to be very logical – in a verbal way… even though I am terrible at math.

  11. Greetings!
    I have always enjoyed your web support in my meager endeavors with technology.
    Our first computer was a Tandy in the early 80’s. It used a cassette tape. We had a foster daughter with special needs. Since I am not a natural “techie”, with great effort and much time, I created a program for her. It involved her typing her name correctly then receiving the reward of a fun visual display. She loved it and I felt a sense of accomplishment. I continue to learn new ways to make the best use of technology given my skills, time and resources. I am very grateful to my young adult children who readily assist me.
    Blessings on your blog endeavor!
    Peace and good,
    Colleen Gerke

    • Colleen, Thank you for your wonderful comments. I’m delighted that this web support is of benefit to you. I’m delighted that your young adult children are available to assist you. Normally, they are eager to assist us!

  12. Michael Cooper, S.J. said:

    I’m new to blogging but look forward to joining the party. You are on top of educational technology in ministry, so I look forward to all that you share.

    Glad you are up and blogging.


  13. S. Caroline,
    Looking forward to learning much, listening carefully and contributing occasionally.
    My story is quite simple > my exposure and opportunity came as a result of spending so much of my young adult life in, on and around college campuses.
    Access and opportunity converged to create curiosity.
    Curiosity led to competence.
    Competence has produced comfort.
    Yet, as the natives well know, a stone may be in the stream for many years but it will never be a frog :+)
    All the best, shawn

    • I love your line “a stone may be in the stream for many years but it will never be a frog.” True, we’ll always be close to being comfortable. It is the “mindsets” that we bring to this evolving world that is important! Or, the changing “mindsets” that we need to bring to the evolving digital world!

  14. Your blog looks great Caroline! And it looks like you already have a following. If you want, you can get several topics going at the same time too.

  15. Cheryl Fournier said:

    Welcome to blogging… is a great tool!

    Story time….I was in grad school and saw my high school students learning the ins and outs of computers and knew that if I were to be able to be effective with them, I needed to speak their language. It was the summer of the dreaded thesis…so I decided, what better time to learn the ins and outs, write the thesis, and have an excuse to play with the computers in the lab? So that is what I did…trial and error, lost files, corrupt files, formatted and unformatted discs….and my techno-journey had begun! It has not stopped since…..

  16. Brava, Caroline!

    As David said, have a blast. It’s such an outlet for creativity.

    Bless you!

  17. Dave Barocsi said:

    Hi Caroline: So nice to hear from you !!!

  18. I love the stories that are being shared here! Each of us in our own unique ways are being led by the younger folks that surround us. May we welcome their digital savvy as we share our faith with them in wonderful creative ways! Other subjects are engaging them in many creative ways with iPads, NetBooks, Cell Phones, Computers, and more. This is what I hope we will do – together – share our stories of how we are being creative with the digital tools that are so natural to them!

  19. Alex Andujar said:

    Hello Sister Caroline,

    I’m glad to hear that you are finally blogging. You have so much to share. I still use what I learned in your cyberculture class to help me navigate amongst these technologically-minded students that I work with. I there is so much to add to the discussion and I welcome your insights.


  20. Hi Sr. Caroline,
    I am looking forward to following your posts . . .
    I think it was in the late 80s, early 90s and I decided that I had to find out more . .. so I took a continuing ed class through HCC for computer beginners . . .I learned enough to keep my self from being too dangerous as I navigated my way through various operating systems and experiences in the work world. And that tends to be my philosophy with technology . . .teach me ‘just enough’ to get me to where I think I want to go and be . . . too much detail makes my eyes cross . . . peace

    • I love your comment “…learned enough to keep myself from being too dangerous.” What is fun today – all that you needed to know back then has gotten so much simpler and intuitive. Think of the “code” that was once used for WordPerfect and/or MS Word? No more!

  21. Sister Caroline,
    Congratulations on your new blog and thank you for shepherding this old former graduate theology student into the new world of technology and cyberculture. God’s Blessings on extending the “Good News”.

    Tim Ward

  22. Jean Wilson said:

    I agree with Tim. You brought me into the cyber world too. When I was working on my education degree in the 1980’s, everyone was saying that teaching was a dying field because students would get everything from computers. It was a giant concern that had many schools of education more than a little bit nervous. I wrote then that I did not think technology would replace teachers. Here we are 25 years later and all of this technology to aid instruction in very exciting ways. Traditional education is getting on board in a huge way. The exciting thing is God can use the same technologies to guide us in our love and knowledge of Him. Technology in ministry is so important for countless reasons.

    • Hi Tim and Jean, I’m delighted that our paths crossed when I was teaching at SLU. Yes, yes this evolving digital world is not about replacing teachers or catechists or ministers! It is about “enhancing” what we do with the Digital Natives to – as Tim says, “…extend the ‘Good News.'” I so appreciate what Fr. Robert Barron’s is doing with his evolving digital project – Word On Fire.

  23. I am a Pastoral Associate in a parish in Youngstown OH. Part of my responsibilities is Lifelong Faith Formation. We have formed a team to vision Faith Formation for 2020 using a process developed by and facilitated by John Roberto.

    This process is helping us form processes that are both face to face and digital. I am very excited.

    • I so appreciate the work that John Roberto is doing with the vision of Faith Formation 2020. He is engaging pastoral folks in beginning to dream the dream and more! John will be with us (presenting) at INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

  24. Lucas Trainer said:

    Sister Caroline, I’m excited to stumble across your blog! The digital native/immigrant metaphor is an interesting way of thinking about the distinction. It’s much more helpful than the trite “generational gap” phrase I hear everywhere. I’m probably one of the digital natives – I started saving my birthday funds and gifts early in first grade to purchase my first computer with a mouse. (I was so excited to control a little dot on the screen of an old Mac LCII using a mouse without eyes.) But, I did grow up learning to speak the language of immigrants just to get along, and was often very frustrated.

    I think that as natives, we know how to use technology, but have a lot to learn about how we could best put technology to good use. “Immigrants” could certainly help us think about this. We are flooded with information and stimuli, but not everyone knows how to channel this well.

    Faith leaders in particular could probably help us to understand how we could use these incredible networking tools to engage in stronger advocacy.

    • Dear Lucas,

      Thank you for stumbling across my blog! And for sharing your personal story! Yes, I agree with you – “Faith leaders in particular could probably help us to understand how we could use these incredible networking tools to engage in stronger advocacy!” Blessings!

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