Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for October, 2011

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

Trends and Challenges: What Parish Technologists?

Tech Team

Recently, a friend asked me – Who do we need to help us move into the world of technology at the parish level?

As I continue to ponder the question, I am venturing to recommend that we need the following type of members on our parish staffs:

  • Information Technology Specialists: These are the folks who are often called the “techies.”  They are the ones who set-up our networks, Wi-Fi connections, upgrade and repair our computers, and more.
  • Educational Technology Specialists: Are educators who know how to integrate technology into the learning process.  The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are core to this process, guiding administrators, teachers, and students in 21st Century Learning.  They are mentors, trainers, and model how to use technology in faith-learning.
  • Communication Technology Specialists: Before the Digital World arrived, we talked about public relations, marketers, and journalists who were involved with creating newsletters, figuring out how to promote a product and a service, and wrote our daily newspaper stories.  This world is in a major flux as we now speak about NEW MEDIA, and talk about web masters, bloggers, mini-bloggers, marketing using Facebook tools, and more.

I will often read the want ads in the Sunday paper or search websites that focus on announcing available positions.  Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that companies who are immersed in the ever evolving Digital World are announcing positions with new names and jobs that attract those who have new skills.  For example, today – if we look in the want ad sections – we’ll find a call for:

Positions that focus on Information and Communication Technology Specialists are emerging at the diocesan and parish levels.  However, positions that focus on educational technology tend to be found in the school staff listings.  The educational technologist is also needed in the catechetical and parish setting.

I’m probably one of the few catechetical ministers, primarily serving parish communities, who has a MA in Religious Studies as well as a MA in Educational Technology.  Since 1983, I have learned to “walk the walk and talk the talk” of the educational technology world.

The educational technology world is wide and vast!  I would especially encourage today’s catechetical ministers to consider how they can enhance their digital skills in a variety of areas.  Explore Full Sail University  and ask – Do we need to know how to create learning games so that our students can be engaged in learning about their faith in a global world by engaging in learning games that focus on Global Issues, Peace & Justice, and other faith themes?  Will we evangelize via our websites that are creatively designed?

Another online program is listed at Walden University, one of the oldest online schools in the country, is the Educational Specialist in Educational Technology Programs.  What can be learned here can be applied to most learning environments – even faith based learning environments.

How do you see yourself growing in using digital skills to serve the 21st Century Church? Would love to hear your story of how you are growing in these new skills!  What new positions are being created at the parish or diocesan levels to bring a better understanding of learning technologies and new media?

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

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

Word Clouds and Prayer

At the 2011 Catechetical Ministry Day for the Diocese of St. Augustine, I was invited to do a workshop titled “Praying with Technology.”  I must admit that as I began to develop the workshop, I was not sure what I would include in the presentation.

The insight I gained is that tools have always been used in prayer.  Tools like parchment to record our Sacred Scriptures with the psalms and words of Jesus as he prayed and more.  The printing press allowed us to create a variety of prayer resources.  We often use a pen or a pencil to record the prayers that we want to share with others.

In today’s digital culture, we now have different tools to use.  To name a few: laptop or desktop computers, iPads and tablets, iPods and MP3 Players, a Blog, a Wiki and more Web 2.0 tools than you may be aware of.

In this post I want to focus on Word Clouds.  There are several web   services that allow you to create a word cloud.  My three favorites are:

Let’s just take the words of the Our Father and create a word cloud with them.

Our Father Wordle Cloud

Our Father Wordle Cloud

ABCYD Word Cloud

ABCYD Our Father Word Cloud

Tagxedo Our Father Word Cloud

Tagxedo Our Father Word Cloud

You ask – So how could I use a “Word Cloud” with my students?  Following are a couple of suggestions.   I encourage you to reflect on how you might use a “Word Cloud” with your class, RCIA members, youth groups, and any group you are involved with catechetical ministry.

Suggestions:

  1. Create a word cloud with one of the word cloud tools.  These services usually allow you to embed the code into your blog, or forward a link to others via e-mail, or you just may want to save the graphic image of this word cloud to use in a PPT presentation.  You’ll notice in the graphics I’ve included that there are key words that stand out.   Perhaps the students could guess what prayer this word cloud represents.  Add the Our Father word cloud in a PowerPoint guided prayer at the point where you would say the Our Father.  When they see the prayer cloud, they would – in this case – say the Our Father together.
  2. Invite your students to go home and create a Word Cloud using the week’s assigned prayer that they are learning this week.  Then direct them to come to the Class Wiki.  They can “embed” the code of this graphic on their page and in 50 to 100 words, they can respond to the following:  When you pray (Name of Prayer), if you had the opportunity to rewrite this prayer in your own words, what would you say to God? Or, any other assigned task.
  3. Create a Wordle for 10 Different Prayers.  Then add these graphics to a PowerPoint.  As a brief quiz to see who is able to identify the prayer they represent, using a response system like Quizdom (or just plain cell phones and Poll EveryWhere invite the students to identify the prayers that the word clouds represent.

As you become comfortable with “word clouds”, and use this type of activity with your class, remember to come back to this blog post to share your story.  Your story is important!

Remember to click the LIKE button!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Glogster – A Web 2.0 Tool

Web 2.0 tools are normally free and easy to use.  There are all types of activities that you could do in your religion classroom with the Glogster tool.

To find out more about Glogster, watch this video:

It will also be helpful to visit the Simple K12 Learning Community to visit Kim’s blog post – Creativity + Convenience = Glogster.  Here you will find a two-minute video interview with Shannon – who highlights how she uses Glogster in her classroom.

There is also an educational version of Glogster.  Check out Glogser EDU.

If you “like” this post, click on the “like” button below!

As you read, take a moment to begin to imagine how you can adapt what you learn here to your religion classroom.  I’d love to hear from you how you are thinking about or are using this wonderful and creative tool with your students of all ages.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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