Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Catholic’ Category

Curiosity is Intelligence having fun!

creativity

The saying attributed to Albert Einstein – Curiosity is intelligence having fun – is something to keep in mind as I return to writing articles about technology in ministry.  Why?  I call all involved in ministry to be curious with me about technology and to have “fun” while being curious.

There are various ways we can approach technology, for example:

  • FEAR: We can be so afraid of technology that we turn our back on it, ignore it, and not see it as valuable partner in our ministry world.
  • TINKER: Those who enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together again, can take a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone apart to see if they can put it back together again. They enjoy the mechanics of handling the pieces and weaving them into a unit that works.
  • NICE TO HAVE: Yes, we have the $$$$$$ for the tools. Let’s buy what we believe we will use.  We listen to the techy folks who surely know how to use technology in ministry.  I believe we need to ask – Well do they know how to use these tools in a learning environment?
  • DIGITAL PEDAGOGY: We are now living in a “paradigm shift” where learning is changing with the introduction of technology into the learning cycle. As an educator, I was shaped and formed by a system that today is tending towards being out-of-fashion!  We are leaning towards a digital culture that is changing how we teach, how we communicate, and how we work together.

Jesse Stommel is an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He offers four characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy. Put another way, these are four things we might notice if digital teaching and learning is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy

  1. It centers its practice on community and collaboration
  2. Must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries
  3. Will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather a cacophony of voices
  4. Must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education

I encourage you to explore Strommel’s PowerPoint where he describes Digital Pedagogy.

Now what does this mean for faith formation? We will go on to discover through our curiosity.  I trust that the articles that are already here and the articles to come, will continue to add to the conversation.  I invite all of my readers to join me in this ongoing conversation.  I invite you to return for the new articles or to simply search for articles that may interest you here at ACyberPilgrim.  Blessings!

 

Word Clouds in the Religion Classroom

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As I read Michael Gormon’s post 200 Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom , I missed seeing suggestions for the subject of RELIGION.

So here are 8 Suggestions for using a WordCloud in your religion classroom:

  1. Paste a Gospel Reading from the USCCB website into your Word Cloud tool. You may wish to turn off common words. Discuss the phrases or words that are important in this reading.
  2. Post students first names to create a Word Cloud of those who are part of your class.
  3. Students create a Word Cloud for the life of a specific saint or Scripture personality.
  4. Make a Word Cloud of certain Scripture events – e.g., Birth of Jesus, Jesus Lost in the Temple, etc. Then exchange the Word Cloud with another group and invite the group to identify the story.
  5. Pick the same story in Scripture as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John (e.g., Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew and Luke ) and create two different Word Clouds. Invite students to discuss what is unique to each storyteller.
  6. Make a Word Cloud of lyrics of your favorite Christian song.
  7. Have students create a Word Cloud using their favorite Bible Passage. They then present their Word Cloud to the class and invite students to guess the passage.
  8. Show a Video. Then invite groups of three to five students to identify words or phrases that are important to this video. Have students create a Word Cloud using their words or phrases.  Discuss the similarities and differences between the various word clouds created by each group.

You may want to look at a previous blog article WordClouds and Prayer  for suggestions to use a WordCloud in prayer.

I have a feeling that my readers have some other suggestions.  I invite you to add your suggestions in the “comment” section of this blog.

5 Inspiring Ways: Use Twitter in Religion Class

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One social media tool that I love is Twitter!  Why? In 140 characters or less I can send a message to others simply using a mobile tool and the Twitter App which is available for both iPhone and Android users. Most of our classrooms have Internet access and many of our students have access to a smartphone or tablet.  Simply invite your students to bring these tools with them to class.  You’ll be amazed at how easily they will be able to engage in what you invite them to do.

Here are a few ideas to implement a Twitter activity in the K-12 religion classroom or you can tweet the activity to your families, inviting them to engage in a family activity together.

  1. Follow Pope Francis, your bishop or archbishop and other religious leaders on Twitter. Here are a few church leaders:
    1. Pope Francis – https://twitter.com/Pontifex
    2. Bishop Paprocki – https://twitter.com/BishopPaprocki
    3. Bishop Edward Burns – https://twitter.com/BishopBurns

What is each leader sharing? What is the message of hope, joy, or mercy that each leader is calling attention to?

  1. Use Twitter to share prayer intentions. Have students use Twitter to share a prayer intention through 140 characters or less with a hashtag, e.g., #stjp.

Twitter-prayer

  1. Instant feedback. Have a student respond to a question you have asked in class.  Use your class hashtag so that you can gather the responses all in one location to review using your cellphone or tablet Twitter App. This way many of your students have responded and you can quickly access who has grasped the material you have been studying.
  1. Pray Scripture Lectio Divina Style using Twitter. On Friday, read and reflect on the Sunday scripture by using the USCCB Sunday Scripture readings.  Project the Sunday Scripture on the screen using a LCD projector.  Invite the students to tweet the word or phrase that is meaningful to them at this time and add a designated hashtag.
  1. Poll the class. Use PollDaddy for Twitter. Use a poll as an interactive teaching tool in class.

As you imagine other opportunities of using Twitter in your classroom, I invite you to return to this blog posting and at the bottom of this page you will see “Leave a Comment”.  Click on this link.  Then share your story with us.

 

Becoming an Innovative Catechist in our Digital Culture

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A catechist in today’s learning environment – is challenged!  Why?  Their students are often engaged in some wonderful learning environments that utilize a variety of digital learning methods in their everyday schools.  Yet, when they come to the parish religion classroom, there are a number of challenges:

Experiences will differ.  Some parish programs have a wonderful relationship with their schools.  Technology like smart boards and WiFi are available to the parish program.  In some parish programs, there is a distance between the two programs, that is separated by a wall almost impossible to climb.  Most catechists in today’s digital world do not know or understand what is happening in the area of educational technology in our public schools. So, even if equipment is available they may not know how to use or there is an understanding that the equipment is only available to the school community.

Native student. Our students know and are comfortable with technology.  We often call them Digital Natives!  Instead of welcoming the digital tools (smartphones and tablets) that are in their pockets and school bags, we discourage them from using and/or ban them from bringing into the classroom.

Embrace the changing role of the catechist.  Are we paying attention to the changing role of the classroom teacher?  If yes, we will learn from and adapt what we learn from their everyday journey in the classroom.  The role of the teacher today is different!  They are no longer the sage on the stage but a mentor, coach, and more.  As a catechist, am I a spiritual guide who knows how to engage young people in evangelizing with digital tools? After all, digital culture is our youths “modus operandi.”

Empower yourself.  Take time to learn more about the digital world of our students.  Digital Discipleship Boot Camp is an option for you to consider.  It is an opportunity to not only learn about but to get hands on experience with the variety of tools that are available to you to use today in a learning environment.  Learning the digital world is a bit like learning a foreign language.  It takes time and practice to become fluent.  The more you use digital tools, the more natural it begins to feel.

A little learning can go a long way.  When you jump in with both feet, this changing learning environment can be overwhelming for a catechist.  So, what’s the secret to success? Go “inch by inch and eventually you can go yard by yard.” Instead of trying to do more than you can truly handle, find one or two things that will work for you and your students.  Later, you can expand your base of knowledge.

Every catechist is capable.  In working with adults in the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, when I see comments like –

  • I consider myself a novice at most communications technology. I’m willing and excited to learn whatever I can.
  • I would like to know how to keep up with all the new technology that seems to keep developing every day.

I am delighted, as it is possible to learn something about this ever evolving digital culture, language, and gain new skills.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  We are challenged today to be innovators in classroom methodology.     How we teach and share the faith will change.  We simply need to adapt to the world as it changes around us – best “inch by inch.”  Becoming a Digital Disciple is important today!

Learn by Doing: A Lent Challenge!

During this wonderful season of Lent, we are challenging ourselves to any of the following: 40 Things to Give Up for Lent: The List.

These are all wonderful opportunities to develop our Spiritual Selves! And this wonderful season of Lent is a wonderful reminder that it is important to develop our spiritual selves.

Yet, another side to our Lenten practices could be to take time to become more comfortable with our digital skills.  Why? In this 21st century, being a Digital Disciple is very much needed in the ever evolving digital culture that surrounds us. The challenge of being a Digital Disciple is to have the digital skills so that we can communicate and create a message with digital tools, manage the business side of our ministries, or engage our learners of all ages in learning more about their faith via digital experiences.

In the ministry that I am engaged in – training others via Digital Discipleship Boot Camp – I’ve learned that many who participate in our DDBC training often lack the basic technology skills to really be successful in today’s digital world. So, I often wonder – What can I suggest to others that may be FREE or reasonably priced, and is a good learning product?

Recently at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) I discovered the Custom Guide group in the Exhibit Hall..  http://www.customguide.com/.  What immediately caught my eye at the booth was their FREE Cheat Sheets for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

If you want to learn more about these tools, you can easily download FREE Cheat Sheets at their website  or order high quality laminated cheat sheets for your parish staff, catechists, or parish volunteers.

CG-CheatSheetList

More importantly, if you are looking for hands-on experience with engaging, interactive software simulations for Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and more I encourage you to explore the CustomGuide Interactive Training at www.customguide.com. Each tutorial covers a single topic, so you get quick answers to your “how-to” questions. CustomGuide Interactive Training is accessible from your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone—making it possible for you to learn wherever you train best. Their motto is Learn by doing, not watching. “More importantly, it is reasonably priced so that your budget is maintained.

I love the guides, as I keep them at the side of my office computer.  When I need help, I quickly look at the guide and find what I need!

For example, I have forgotten how to insert a screenshot into my Word document.  Under “Drawing and Graphics” I locate the following –

To Insert a Screenshot: Click the Insert tab on the Ribbon and click the Screenshot button in the Illustrations group. Select an available window from the list, or select the Screen Clipping option to take a screen clip.

I easily add the screenshot to my document, and continue writing and creating the document that I am working on.

Overall, I have discovered that Digital Discipleship Boot Camp (DDBC) participants who come with strong skills in using programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are able to apply these skills to their boot camp experience.

If you would like to engage more in “hands on” learning experiences for learning more about integrating technology into your ministry, then come to the DDBC website to check out the summer schedule.  We’d love to welcome you!

 

 

Inspirational Moments

inspirational-moments

One of the reasons I go to the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC), is to meet folks who will inspire me to learn new things.  Recently I was reminded how simple conversations with others are also inspirational.

To my wonderful surprise, a new Digital Disciple Boot Camp (DDBC) participant shared this with me:

Hi, Sr. Caroline – I just had to drop you a quick note and tell you about what I did tonight during a class I was teaching as a result of our conversation. 

I was teaching a group class that combined three 6th grade RE classes.  I had one class waiting for the other 2 classes to arrive so I asked how many had a smart phone with them – all hands shoot up – great, I say, please look up the word “covenant” – hands start flying, voices speaking into Siri – first one that found something was about a movie – nope – next one – a good lay dictionary definition – nope – something more religious – sure enough someone finds the “Biblical” definition – perfect- screen shot so you can read it to the rest when they come. 

It was a perfect use of technology and useful as well.  Thanks for inspiring me today.

Thank you Deb Ryan, Assistant Director of Religious Education, St. Francis of Assisi Church for sharing your story with me.  I trust that you will continue to encounter many others during DDBC who will continue to inspire you.

My wish in this ever evolving 2015 year is that each of you will be inspired by others who are involved in Digital Catechesis.  We are each pioneers, trying to figure out what is possible and what works!

I look forward to sharing FETC stories with my readers over the next couple of weeks.  Since I am an introvert, it takes time to sift through the mass of information that I was exposed to at FETC.  As you visit this space, I will share with you what and who inspired me to continue to be a Digital Disciple.

Of course, come and share your stories with ACyberPilgrim as well!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.    – Mother Teresa

What is FETC?

FETC-2015

This week I will be in Orlando attending the FETC Conference.  What is FETC?  Well, FETC is the acronym for the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  So why attend FETC?

There are three reasons why I attend:

  1. Outstanding Programming: 200 sessions and 80+ workshops focus on the latest resources and techniques-wikis, blogs, social networking, virtual learning, podcasting along with other hot topics.
  2. Learn from the Experts: K-12 Education technology leaders help you explore current and emerging technologies—and show you how you can apply them to your school challenges.
  3. The FETC 2015 Exhibit Hall and ed-tech marketplace, where you can meet face-to-face with the vendors carrying the technologies you need to know about!

In today’s digital environment, I need to keep developing my Digital Mind.  When I attend our regular conferences – NCCL, NPCD, NFCYM, and others – there are always wonderful technology workshops offered.

However, when I attend an educational technology conference, I am immersed (almost baptized!) in a digital world.  When I first attended an Ed Tech conference in Chicago, back in 1983, I froze at the very entrance of the Exhibit Hall.  I remember being frightened because I knew next to nothing about any type of technology.

Today, I am immersed in a digital world that covers three major areas:

  • Information Technology or IT– IT refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies. Many companies now have IT departments for managing the computers, networks, and other technical areas of their businesses. IT jobs include computer programming, network administration, computer engineering, Web development, technical support, and many other related occupations. Since we live in the “information age,” information technology has become a part of our everyday lives.
  • Communications Technology – Refers to any communication device or application (e.g., Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning.
  • Educational Technology or sometimes called Instructional Technology – The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. Read more here.

I’ve learned that I do not need to master all three areas.  However, I need to understand how these three areas fit into my world.  If I need my computer fixed or networked, I know I need to connect with an IT professional.  In Communications Technology – there are more areas than I need to know – so I pick and choose (e.g., Social Media, Radio, TV, etc.).

However, it is the Educational Technology World where I spend my time.  I have earned an MA in Educational Technology, which has helped me to engage in today’s rapidly changing, wired world.  Today, to become a better catechist requires a hands-on understanding of current technologies and the strategy and skills to integrate them into the learning experience and ministry training. How we teach and form others in their faith in a Digital World is different than when I began teaching or being involved in the parish world.

So, I go to FETC to stretch my mind to learn new methodologies, tools, and processes that include e-learning and more.  I’ve attended this conference on a regular basis since 2003! And if you look at the list of who is invited to attend –

  • Superintendents
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Technology-using Educators
  • District-level Leaders
  • Curriculum Designers
  • Media Specialists
  • Technology Directors/Technologists
  • Instructional Support Staff
  • Non-instructional Support Staff

Yes, it is geared for the school educator.  However, I go to learn what is happening in our schools.  These are the folks who come to our parish programs. And I ask – Can we “Walk their Walk and Talk Their Talk” when it comes to integrating technology into our ministries?

I plan to share more with you from the conference.  So, come back to learn what I’ve discovered.  If you have questions you would like to explore, please ask them in the Comments section of this post.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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