Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for December, 2011

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Blessings!

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of my favorites!  Why? It is a time of celebrating the Birth of Christ, remembering the gifts, blessings, and sorrows of the past year, and of course we are each hoping for a better year than last year!  On New Year’s Eve, many of us make a number of New Year Resolutions. One of my resolves will be to continue “blogging” and “sharing” as the Digital World is very important today for evangelizing and sharing the faith!

As I stop to reflect on this past year and look forward to 2012, I want to thank each of you for visiting this blog and to thank my friends and the SSJ-TOSF’s for your support in this ever evolving digital ministry.   It has been an opportunity for me to share with you a view of what is on our doorsteps – digital learning!  When you return to this blog in 2012, I will continue to share with you insights, hopes, and dreams related to digital tools and learning.

Of course, my wishes are —
Like the star that led the Wise Men
Like the angels who announced the news,
May your holidays shine with joy
And fill your heart with Light
Wishing you a peaceful, blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Retelling the Christmas Story

Parents, are you looking for a way to engage your children to tell the story of the Birth of Jesus?  Well, here is a wonderful tool (and it’s FREE) that you can use with your children – Little Bird Tales.  Very easy to use!

When you are on the LIttle Birds website, click on the LittleBirdTales.Com Demo Video (that looks like the following image) for a quick overview of how to use this website.

Little Bird Tales

In three easy steps –

your child can create their Christmas story and share with members of their family.

All you need – imagination, drawing tools and paper, microphone, and a digital camera (a cellphone camera works)!  Check out the public stories that you find in the PUBLIC TALES tab.  One that caught my interest is an Easter Story.   Here is a wonderful example of a child telling their story.  Sorry – it’s Easter, not Christmas!

Here’s an opportunity where you can visit the crèche at your church after Mass and have your child use the camera to capture images of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  Once they have their photo’s they can come back home and use them to tell the story about the Birth of Jesus which they heard in their class, or you read the story to them, or – who knows where they heard the story. Here’s the chance for them to pass on this wonderful story to others!

Now is the time to encourage them to tell the story in their own words and with their own creativity!  What better way to have them engaged in one of the great stories of our Christian tradition.

DRE’s and others who are involved in your parish catechetical/religious education programs.  You may wish to send this link to your parents, or add the link to your parish website, or use this link in any way to encourage your parents to involve their children in telling the Christmas story.  When the children have completed this Digital Storytelling, they can email the link to others in their families!  What about to grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins who live in other cities?

Hope you enjoy and have fun with this activity!  Would love for folks to come back to this post to share the links of the stories that have been created.

Remember, if you like this post, click on the “Like” button!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Why INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS?

Do I need to attend the INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS conference?  Yes!  Why?  It is ONE of the few places where you can gather with other religious educators and focus on the integration of technology into your catechetical ministry.  When we attend other conferences we are immersed in our ministry world with a “dab” of technology in the program.

Come to IC 2012 and you will begin to understand what I mean.  You are immersed in the culture and language of educational and social media technology.  It’s like learning French, Spanish, Russian or any other language.  I can learn to speak a few words of French or any language for that matter.  However, to really speak a foreign language it is best to be immersed in the culture of the country where the language is spoken on a daily basis.

That’s right – to become a native – it is important to “immerse” yourself in the language and culture of the country.  It is the same today with “technology!”  If you are an immigrant, and most of us who are older than 30, are Digital Immigrants!  It takes time, patience, and immersing ourselves in this ever evolving Digital World.

Yes, on Monday evening and Tuesday, we are focused on issues of Pastoral Technology.  Check out the program.  INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS co-locates with the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  Why, for four simple reasons:

  1. Our faith students come from public schools where technology is an integral part of the daily curriculum.  We need to know and understand the educational technology culture that our faith students are exposed to on a daily basis.  If we do not integrate this culture into our learning experiences, we will appear outdated and antiquated to our Digital Natives in our teaching practices.
  2. To benefit by what we are exposed to in the Exhibit Hall.  Many of the exhibitors provide mini-workshops to highlight new products and services for educators.  I often spend a whole day in the Exhibit Hall.  New services, new ideas, and new connections are very important to stay on the cutting edge.
  3. I’m listing the workshops that I believe would be of interest to you as a catechetical minister from the FETC program.  It is very easy to listen to the educational presenter and then to bring the best ideas back to your parish or diocese.  For example, if I am a DRE and I’m trying to figure out how to form iCatechists, I may want to attend – CS1136 – Shaping the iTeacher, 10:00 am – 11:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2012, with Len Scrogan with John Adsit. Or if I’m curious about how iPads can be used in the classroom, I will attend –CS4441 – Getting Started with iPads, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012 with Cathy Hutchins.
  4. By networking with other catechetical ministers, we are creating and developing a group of faith-based educational technology and social media specialists who will be leaven in their parish and diocesan areas.  By networking we share ideas with one another in order to quickly learn what we must learn to be Digital Disciples!

So if you are ready to IMMERSE yourself into the language and culture of educational and social media technologies.  Come and join us in Orlando.  Here is what others have said about their experience of the conference:

  • Able to see how others in ministry are using technology successfully. Learned about new resources available and new ways to using existing tools Interacting with others, sharing challenges was helpful Reminder to me that the new digital continent is in its infancy and we are the ones who need to lead others in our parish on how to use these tools for evangelization and catechesis. Helped to overcome my fear of this unknown world… I need to just do it!
  • It made me even more excited about sharing/utilizing technology in my ministry. It also taught me so much that I can teach/share in the Syracuse diocese. I also feel that I am now involved in a growing network of support and learning which gives me confidence to “keep on growing” in the world of technology.
  • My head was spinning from all the wonderful ideas, insights and technology that was shared. As a diocesan and church employee, I came away from the conference with so many wonderful ways to not only enhance what I am currently doing, but also new ways to reach out and evangelize to those who find themselves outside the church community. I find myself looking for new ways to ‘go where they are,’ through technology. Thinking outside the box – thank you for letting me see that there never was a box in the first place.

To Register click here.  Use the PROMOTIONAL CODE – FAC25 – for a $25.00 Registration Discount.

Looking forward to meeting you in Orlando!

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!

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