Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for January, 2013

Learning Faith in a Digital Age

Have you ever stopped to think about what will be different in catechesis as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Yes  – reading materials will become more digital.  The recent NEWSWEEK announcement – that they will be ALL DIGITAL beginning January 14, 2013 – is just the tip of the iceberg.  As we ponder what this means for catechesis, lets use our imagination.  I encourage you to add to the conversation with your own insights and options.


To begin, let’s get ready for the future.  You are the catechist and I will be a Digital Native.  So the Digital Native will use a laptop, tablet or smartphone and the catechist will use paper and pencil.  Let’s describe what can happen in this ever evolving world.  Are you ready?

  • I will immediately Google up-to-date information about my church – you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
  • I will immediately know when I have answered a digital quiz correctly – you have to wait until it’s graded.
  • I will use technology in every aspect of my everyday faith life – following the readings of the day, receiving the Pope’s tweets, following the Vatican YouTube Channel, NCR Online, and more – you will wait a week or two to hear about what’s happening in a published church paper that is losing readership daily.
  • I will create digital posters with photos, images, text and videos – you will still be creating posters with crayons and ink or maybe with butcher paper with check points.
  • I will create prayers, articles and more in a digital format and share these with the world – you will only share yours with the class.
  • I will have 24/7 access to information about my faith through online articles, eBooks or websites like Sacred Space – your information is discovered primarily in books that you have to go to the book store to purchase or when you purchase online you wait for several days for the book to arrive.
  • I will access the most dynamic information with video, sound and more – yours will be printed and photocopied.
  • I will collaborate with my peers from around the world and learn from them what is important about their faith – you will collaborate only with your students in your classroom.
  • I can learn anything I want about my faith anytime and anywhere – you must wait until you read the textbook which may be outdated.
  • I will need to learn how to choose the best information about my Catholic faith tradition as anyone can publish anything at anytime whether it be correct teaching or not – you have had content that is always approved by our bishops via the “imprimatur” and “nihil obstat“.
  • I live in a time where we can learn the best and the worst about my Catholic faith from people of all ages via a variety of electronic means – you will primarily learn your faith from written materials that can be biased or unbiased – depending on the theological perspectives you are exposed to.
  • I will – with my class – interact with our Church leaders (Local Bishop, Parish Pastor, and others) via SKYPE, Facetime, GoToMeeting and other collaborative tools – you will call and make an appointment to meet these same leaders in a Face-to-Face meeting that is scheduled weeks in advance.

I often wonder how our methodology will change in the teaching of our faith to one another.  I see the importance of both face-to-face experiences and the integration of varied technologies in the teaching of our faith to others.  For now – we are Pioneers in a Digital Landscape that changes rapidly around us.

This is why it is important to gather with other pioneers – to learn from one another, to swap success stories (and even to talk about what did not work).  One of the best places to gather is at the annual Interactive Connections Conference that co-locates with the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC).  It is at IC 2013 that we can learn best practices from educators who have been involved in educational technology for over 35 years!

If you’re coming to Orlando – great!  Looking forward to meeting and sharing with you.  If not, I would encourage you to make room in your busy calendar and come.  We need all the pioneers possible to join in this wonderful and challenging endeavor of Sharing the Faith with our ever savvy digital students.

Note:  The list that describes what can happen in this ever evolving world is an adaptation of a list  that was anonymously shared by a student who posted on the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website during the spring of 2003.

Of course, if you like this post, click on the “Like” button.  If you have a comment, I look forward to your participation in the conversation – How do you see our methodology changing as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Vocation: God’s Call

Welcome back after celebrating the Gift of Jesus in our lives and welcoming a New Year! Just around the corner is National Vocation Awareness Week – January 13 – 19, 2013.

For our young people to understand God’s Call in their lives, I’ve been involved with my parish community in shaping and forming a lesson for Grades 7 & 8 that will engage these students in using technology to learn more about religious life, priesthood and the deaconate, marriage, single life and lay ecclesial communities.

I am sharing this lesson with you as you may wish to use this lesson with your junior high students (Grades 7 & 8).


Students will create digital posters using Glogster to explain a vocation to: married life, single life, religious life, lay ecclesial community, priesthood, or deaconate by…

  • Research – What is your understanding of this vocation? How would you explain this vocation to a friend in 2 or 3 sentences? (refer to listed Web links).
  • Interview – Ask: How do you follow Christ in your vocation? Prepare other questions for your interview.
  • Summarize Interview – Write one paragraph that summarizes the interview by completing the following:

o Married Vocation: – “It is important to have married couples serving their families and others in our church because…”
o Single Life: “It is important to have single members to serve Christ and others in our church because…”
o Religious Sisters: “It is important to have sisters to serve Christ and others in our church because…”
o Religious Brothers: “It is important to have brothers to serve Christ and others in our church because…”
o Lay Ecclesial Communities: “It is important to have lay ecclesial communities to serve Christ and others in our church because…”
o Priests: “It is important to have priests to serve Christ and others in our church because…”
o Deacons: “It is important to have deacons to serve Christ and others in our church because…”

  • Photos – Create a photo story that shows how others in this vocation live their lives to serve Christ and others. (Use 3 to 5 photo’s)

What you will need:

A Glogster Account (FREE) – Glogster EDUcator Free is a limited version of the Light and Premium platforms. Teachers and students have access to all Glog creation features and enjoy a completely ad-free environment. The Free product gives you the ability to generate and manage a limited number of student accounts (10). Additional students can register under your account using your Glogster Teacher code, but cannot be accessed or managed. Any additional Student’s work can be shared through URL posting. If you would like additional students, full classroom management capabilities, including the ability to assign projects, manage portfolios, and create presentations, consider an upgrade to EDUcator Light or EDUcator Premium.

 Note: There are three options when creating student accounts: (1) create an ID and PW for each student (for the free version you are limited to 10 student accounts. (2) Group your students so that they are working in small groups and will share a group ID and PW with those who are in their working group, or (3) create a class ID and PW and share with ALL students, it is also possible to create their individual or group Glogs under the same username and password.

Access to the Internet (Home or School Computer Lab) so that students can use Glogster EDU ( ) to create a digital poster for an assigned vocation category. (To learn the basics of Glogster go to – Glogster . Catechist/Teacher will need to set-up student accounts.

 Assign Topics: Slips of paper with one of the following: (1) Married Life (2) Single Life (3) Religious Life (Sisters), (4) Religious Life (Brothers), (5) Priesthood (Diocesan), (6) Priesthood (Religious), (7) Deacon (8) Lay Ecclesial Communities (Make enough slips so that ALL students will get to pick ONE of these areas or have a list of these areas and invite students to sign-up for a topic.)

 Interview List: Prepare a list of potential married couples, etc. who are willing to be interviewed by students for this project. The interview could happen by phone, SKYPE, or face-to-face.

 Videos: Choose one of the following videos to give an overview of the concept of “vocation.”

• Christian Vocation: It All Begins With A Call

 • A Calling for Everyone

Christian Vocation: It All Begins With a Call

 • Catholic Vocations – A Gift of God’s Love

 Tools: Computers (or iPad, other Tablets, or Smartphones) for each student or group. (Note: If you do not have access to a computer lab during your class session. This is a project that could be completed at home. If students do not have a computer or Internet access, this is an opportunity for team work. )

 Jump Drives: If creating the project in the school lab, invite students to bring a jump drive so that they can download any work they want to save or use (e.g., photo’s that they have researched).

Web links:
Lay Ecclesial Communities: or
Single Vocation:
Religious Life (Priests, Brothers, Sisters) – or
Deacons –  and
Priesthood –

 Sites students can use for Royalty Free and Creative Commons Photos:
Free Photos –
Free Photo Bank – or Pics4Learning –

Student Worksheet:
Make copies of the Student Worksheet (ONE for each student)

1. Review with students that our Baptism is a call to the fullness of life. Our vocation is the special way which God wants to give us that fullness of life through love. Identify the vocations to married life, to consecrated single life, to religious life, and to the priesthood and deaconate.
2. Show one of the VOCATION videos.
3. Invite students to describe how they understand what is meant by “vocation.”
4. Students are assigned to (or invited to choose) a vocation category (married life, etc.)
5. Then direct the students to explain this vocation to a friend in 2 or 3 sentences. Direct the students to the suggested links to research their topic.
6. Guide the students in how to prepare their questions for their interview. Have students work alone to prepare their questions. Then invite them to share their questions in class. Refer the students to the suggested list to schedule an interview. Or, invite these persons to be present for the class so that they may be interviewed by the students.
7. Students would then be given instruction on how to make a digital poster using Show examples of a digital poster – for example: Vocation Week or Love.
8. Students would go to: using their ID and the password. (PW). (Teacher sets up student account – see previous note)
9. Students will use the information from class , interview, and research and put it into Glogster using the following format:

 a. Title: Name of (Vocation) or a Title that fits your theme
b. Explain this vocation to a friend in 2 or 3 sentences.
c. Interview Summary: One paragraph using the sentence stem…(See above)
d. Use 3 to 5 photo’s that is a photo story of how those you have interviewed live their lives to serve Christ and others.

 10. Note: If students are unable to complete their “Glog” invite them to complete it at home. If they are still working on their glog, make sure they choose “Unfinished.” If they are ready to publish, check “Finished.”
11. When the Glogs are complete, there are a variety of ways you can share these with the parish community:

 a. Work with your Parish Webmaster to have a page created on the parish website about Vocation Week. After you have reviewed the work, choose which Glogs are to be added to the parish website. Write an announcement in your parish bulletin about this project and invite members of the parish to visit this page.
b. Add the links (or embed) the glog in your class wiki or blog.
c. Invite students to send the link to their glog to members of their family.

12. Wrap Up: Students could show their Glogs to the class using a computer and LCD Projector.

If you use this lesson, please come back and tell us how it went!  If you think you’re going to try it, just click on the “Like” button.

Tag Cloud