Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for September, 2011

Quizlet – a study service for your students!

Would you love to have a FREE study service for your students?  I would!  You can provide your students with a way to learn their basic facts with Quizlet.  Come and explore!


The best way is to start with a Quizlet tutorial

It is a tool that you can use in a variety of ways:

  • Teachers and catechists can develop a quiz for their students
  • Students can develop a quiz for an assignment that is then shared with the class.  Each week I would invite two or three students to create a quiz that is then shared with other class members.  Invite them to  work in teams.
  • You can use Quizlet websites created by others.

As I searched for Religion options on the Quizlet website, this is what I discovered:

Quizlet for Scripture Final

Quizlet - Apostles

Quizlet for Church

It is easy to SHARE your quizlet!  All you need to do is use the “share” section of the Quizlet website.

Quizlet Share

If your students are using any of the social media tools, you can forward directly to your class Facebook group page or share via Twitter.  Or embed on the class blog or email to your students.  Choose what is best for your class.

If you “LIKE” this post, remember to click on the LIKE button.  Know someone who would benefit from this post, click on the SHARE button and forward to them.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

The Times – They are a Changing!

This wonderful term “New Media” – what do we do with it?  The world around us is changing.  And as this world changes, we need to begin to explore who we will bring on board to assist us in our parishes and dioceses so that we can integrate these wonderful digital tools into evangelization, catechesis, and communication ministries.

Photo of Thomas Sanjurjo

Thomas Sanjurjo

I’d like to introduce you to Thomas Sanjurjo, who recently joined the team/staff at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, Florida.  What is important to note, is that he is their first Electronic Outreach Director.  I met him recently at a Sunday liturgy.  After Mass we chatted in the parish hall over coffee.  I left the conversation with Tom with a sense that this parish portrays a model of what it means to be an emerging 21st Century Parish.

Nativity Catholic Church

Why is he important to this parish?  We are now in the midst of an ever evolving Digital Culture that has its own language and tools.  Many of us often feel that we are strangers on the edge observing a world that is both exciting and terrifying.

If I were a missionary in a foreign land, initially I would feel intimidated by not knowing the new language or culture.  Even though I would desire to share the Gospel with others, they would not understand me.  I might possibly offend them, not knowing how important it is to only shake hands at our first meeting instead of giving a warm hug.

Missionaries today are trained in both the language and culture of the country and people they will serve. By the time they arrive in their new and foreign land, they already speak the language and know the fine points of what is acceptable or not in the culture.

So, if we stop to think about the Digital Culture surrounding us. It is a new language and a new culture!  Who is teaching us the language and the ways of this ever evolving culture?

Yes, a professional like an Electronic Outreach Director will not only do ministry via the parish website, Facebook page and more, he/she will also be responsible for training the staff and even parishioners.  After all this Digital Culture affects all of us!  This parish now has an in residence mentor whose job it is to be involved in electronic outreach.

Tom’s description offers an excellent model of a 21st Century minister who is focused on being a Digital Disciple.  He is to be a catalyst in his parish to bring others onboard with being 21st Century ministers and parishioners.  He shared this model of what he is currently doing in the parish:

Electronic Outreach Director Model

Yes, he will be responsible for the daily feeds and updates of the parish FaceBook page, developing and coordinating the parish blog, uploading the Sunday homily to Sunday Mass Podcast, and training his staff and parishioners, and more.  His ministry is just beginning.  It will be a delight to hear more about his ministry in the future.

I’m sure that there are other positions being created at the parish or diocesan level.  If you are aware of these new positions, I invite you take a moment to introduce us to the new position and who is serving in this role.  Let’s share in how we are becoming a 21st Century church!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

25 Signs You’re a 21st Century Catechist

Are catechists becoming 21st Century faith leaders?  Let’s explore how this could happen!  PLUS, if you have a sign to share….you may win!   Keep reading to find out how…

Here are 25 signs that you are a 21st Century Catechist:

  1. You have taught your students how to find excellent Catholic resources that are now available on the Internet.
  2. You require your students to use a variety of Internet sources when they are creating PowerPoint research projects.
  3. You use a blog to communicate with your students and parents.
  4. You use a blog to engage your students in the study of their faith.  For example – Finding God-Week One.
  5. You use a discussion tool like Collaborize Classroom to engage your students in online faith sharing with one another.
  6. Your use of SKYPE in the classroom allows your students to meet and speak with Catholic leaders who reside in different parts of the country.
  7. Your students work on collaborative projects with students in other countries – like the Global Church Project (See pgs. 10-11) with students in Australia.
  8. Your students participate in class by tweeting their questions and comments using the #hashtag option.
  9. You have taught your students how to create a 30-second video prayer reflection using Animoto.
  10. You promote digital etiquette with your students helping them navigate and stay safe in their media world.
  11. You notice that many students come to class with their cell and smartphones and work with your pastor and administrators in paving the way to use these tools in your catechetical lessons.
  12. You have explained to your parents how a cell phone will be used in your classroom and have a permission form for parents to approve of this use in the classroom.
  13. You have engaged your students in creating an agreement that covers safety, etiquette, responsibility, and opportunity (e.g., If this project goes well, students may suggest future cell phone assignments.)
  14. Your students have interviewed members of your parish who have been involved in major parish historical events (e.g., the founding of the parish, welcoming the bishop during his parish visit, and other important parish events).  They have posted these interviews to a blog.
  15. You provide an Oral Quiz for your grades 6 to 8 or 9 to 12 students using YouMail and their cell phone.
  16. Your students have researched local faith landmarks (churches, shrines, cathedrals, historical home, statue or sculpture, etc.) and created a photoblog Web page that describes the significant features of the landmark.
  17. Your students create a study guide by working together in a group wiki.
  18. Your classroom budget is tight, but it doesn’t matter because there are so many free Web 2.0 resources available for your use.  (Blog example link here)
  19. You are aware that many teachers are utilizing educational technology options in their everyday classrooms, you read their blogs and join online communities to learn about their best practices, and then adapt these concepts to your religion classroom.
  20. You take your students on a field trip to the Holy Land in Lent and never leave your classroom.
  21. You visit the Vatican with your students and don’t spend a dime.
  22. You teach your students to respect one another and not to be bullies or cyberbullies.
  23. You have your morning coffee while checking your RSS feed.
  24. You tweet this page, blog about it, “like” it, or email it to another catechist.
  25. On the 9/11 Anniversary, you have found articles like “Out of Many, One: A Community Art Project” by Muriel Stockdale and other authors.

BONUS 26. You’re a member of the Digital Catechesis Community…or have encouraged a catechist to join!

SPECIAL PRIZE: If this post receives 100 comments (within 2 weeks of post date) with additional signs of being a 21st century catechists, I will pick one person at random to receive a FREE conference registration to INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS CONFERENCE & EXPO (January 23-26, 2012) in Orlando, FL and a runner up to receive a “Digital Footprint” t-shirt.  So comment now – your additional sign of being a 21st century catechist and PASS IT ON!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Changing our DNA

I’m not a scientist!  What I know about DNA would fit on 1/1000 mb’s  of my iPad memory.  Yes, DNA is related to our genetic properties.  If you watch CSI or NCIS they can tell who you are by your DNA.  Some of us are saying, but I do not even have one technology gene in my body!  No “technology” in my DNA!

Well, it’s time for the transfusion or whatever it will take to integrate technology into your very being!  Why?

When our use of the new means of social networking is self-giving, truthful and loving, it then becomes “ a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for 2009 World Day of Communication).

Pope Benedict XVI implies that technology is not the enemy but a graceful means of evangelizing and a way of loving our community.  So how do we change the “technophobic” DNA of our inner being?

Brad West began a conversation around “Fear Not: Objections to Tech in Parishes”  with five points of what seems to hold us back.

  1. I don’t understand.
  2. Show the real benefit in terms of numbers.
  3. We’ve always done it this way.
  4. I don’t have time to learn that stuff. and,
  5. We don’t have the money for that.

If you are holding yourself back from embracing technology because of any of these reasons, then you need to be involved in a MINDSHIFT transfusion that will change your technology DNA!

  1. If you do not understand, there are plenty of ways to learn.  Simply decide that you will learn more than you already know and proceed at an inch-by-inch pace!  Who says you have to know everything?  One step at a time! Ask a friend or your children to be your digital guiding angel!
  2. Benefits?  One of the best stories I heard to demonstrate a “benefit” is from Amy Barber, a middle school catechist at Queen of Peace Parish, Gainesville, FL.  After a workshop I gave about cell phones being used in a classroom, she went back and “tried” it with her students.  Three months later, she shared this story with me!  Amy now has parents knocking on her classroom door, because they want to take their son or daughter home for the evening meal.  The students want to stay so that they can finish their projects!
  3. Our students are in a different place and learn differently.  Take a moment to listen to the 21st Century Pedagogy video (See below).  We may be comfortable with the way we’ve always done it.  Our students are not!  Are you willing to travel to their digital continent and to learn a new language and digital culture so that you can communicate with them?  It is time to erase from your inner database “We’ve always done it this way!”  Never ever utter this again!
  4. Time!  Yes, it does take time to learn what I need to know.  I had students this summer who  over an 8-week period, spent about 3 hours per week to learn more about technology and are now working on projects to apply what they learned to their religion classrooms.  They were part of the new Digital Discipleship Bootcamp!  Most classroom educators need to be involved in technology at least a year before they feel really comfortable using technology.  So my question to you is – When are you going to start?  Your children are already on the train.  If you miss getting onboard, they will go on without you!
  5. Money!  Yes, money is important!  But you do not need a ton of money to start.  Figure out the basics and get what you need to start!  If you have the good of your students at heart and communicate what you are doing to your parents and others, they will support what you do.  Yes, even with money!

I trust that you will truly move ahead to change your technology DNA!  How to use faith-based educational technology today with your learning groups – whatever age – is a MUST!  If you are a leader, and do not understand what needs to be done, look around for those in your parish who have “educational technology” background and degrees.   Invite them to mentor and to assist you.

As we continue to ponder the changing of our technophobic part of our DNA, let us pray – Lord, help me to learn more about this wonderful digital world. I so want to walk the walk and talk the talk of our young people so that I can guide them to becoming Digital Disciples.  I want to learn how I can use these new tools, so like you – instead of writing in the sand (John 8:9) I can learn how to share your Gospel with the grace-filled tools of technology.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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