Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Educational Technology’ Category

The Role of the Catechist in the Age of Google & Alternative Facts

Today we are surrounded by digital information that is created by a variety of organizations and individuals.  In a matter of seconds a search finds thousands of possible resources related to the topic we are searching for.

As mobile tools, become an integral part of our daily lives and the ability to find out almost anything if we have Internet access, causes me to ask – am I able to find the best Catholic information online or will I also find “fake” information related to my faith?

If you are engaged in any of the following tasks, you will need to find the best possible Catholic information that resides on the Internet:

  • A student who has been assigned the task of explaining the History of the Sacrament of Baptism or any topic to be researched!
  • RCIA catechist who will be explaining the history of Baptism to RCIA candidates
  • A catechist who is involved with Parents who will be baptizing their child and preparing a parent lesson.
  • A child, teenager, or adult curious about the History of the Sacrament of Baptism

Steps to Review Internet Articles

To begin, you are invited to sit down at your computer and go to the “Google” website.  Begin your search with the phrase“Sacrament of Baptism.” A variety of options are usually presented…

I’m delighted to see “Sacrament of Baptism History” as an option. Choose this topic or you can just type in the Google search field “Sacrament of Baptism History” as you begin your search.

 

As you see in a few seconds’ numerous articles are located for you. Your next task is to figure out what are the “best” articles related to the topic of your search.  Normally, the first 20 articles are the options you want to begin with.  For this article, we’ll work with the first six articles asking three simple questions:

  1. Is this a Catholic website? If yes, is it sponsored by the Vatican, the USCCB, a Diocese, a Parish, a Catholic Publisher, a Catholic University, or by an individual who is writing this article.
  2. What do you know about the writer? Name, who do they represent – Vatican, Diocese, Parish, Catholic Publisher, Catholic University – Theology Department, Self? What degrees do they have? Who are they associated with?
  3. Is the information current, dated or biased?

Answering the Questions

It is usually helpful to create a table that identifies – Article – Organization/Individual – Writer Info – Date of Article. As I ask the three questions, here is what I learn about each webpage:

Article Catholic Org or Indv Writer Info Date
Catechism of Catholic Church – Baptism Vatican Vatican 1993
Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation Catholic Education Resource Center Fr. John Hardon, SJ – Biography – http://www.hardonsj.org/biography/ The Catholic Faith 4, no. 4 (July/August 1998): 5-11.
Sacrament of Baptism Catholic Doors Jonn Miller No Date Listed
History of Baptism – Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia Contributors See “Cite this Page
Baptism Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent This article was transcribed for New Advent by Charles Sweeney, S.J. 1907
The Sacrament of Baptism Holy Trinity Catholic Church Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Probably prepared and written by a staff member No Date Listed

 

Deciding What to Read and Study

Just asking these three questions, and after identifying the responses to the questions I would choose three articles to begin my research and learning.

Catechism of the Catholic Church – Baptism:  This is a Vatican sponsored article and is part of the newest Catechism.  A good resource to study.

The Holy Trinity parish article: Why?  It is written for a parish audience to quickly and simply explain to them information about the Sacrament. After reading the Catechism article, I would be comparing the Catechism content with this article to see how this article clearly articulates what has been approved by the Vatican. Despite no date or specific author listed, this is a current Catholic parish in the Shreveport Diocese.  While reading the article, references to the CCC are made which indicates that this is a current article, most likely prepared by a parish staff member.

Baptism – New Advent: Since we are focusing on the History of the Sacrament of Baptism, this article was approved by bishops in 1907.  It would provide an explanation of the sacrament at this historical time.  Since I read the two more current articles, I will be trying to identify what is the same or different between the Catechism Article (1993) and the Catholic Encyclopedia article (1907) regarding the history of the sacrament of Baptism. This article will contextualize for me how the Church understood the Sacrament of Baptism before Vatican II.

An article I would read to understand what seems to be an article that would be more supportive of pre-Vatican II theology is:

Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – Why? This is a resource that is supported by a group in Canada.  Their goal is wonderful – your online source for the best in Catholic faith and culture.  However, as I view the information about the “Executive and Advisory Boards” there are flags for me.  The phrases that cause me to pause are:

  • Professor Emeritus – indicates for me someone who is academically astute, but may have a more traditional mindset that may not support Vatican II theology. These members represent – English and Humanities, School of Education, Christianity & Culture Program, Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy.
  • Organizations that are known to support Pre-Vatican II Theology: Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ignatius Press, and Catholic Answers.
  • Author “Fr. Hardon, SJ who is known in Catholic circles to be more of a traditionalist who was critical of Vatican II theology.

It is important to know and be aware of both sides of the equation in today’s church.  The audience who arrives on your doorstep comes from a rainbow of theological experience.  As a teacher/learner it is important to respect the rainbow of colors in a parish.  Our call is not to engage our communities in fighting one another regarding who is right and who is wrong.  Our call is to engage our faith communities in a dialogue so that both sides grow in understanding and welcoming one another.

I would not recommend or read the following two articles:

Sacrament of Baptism – Catholic Doors.  Overall the design of this content is not very appealing as it is all text based.  On closer examination to see who is sponsoring the website, I found the following – The Catholic Doors Ministry is owned and managed by Jonn Miller. This ministry is a response to Pope John-Paul II’s appeal that the West is in need of re-evangelization.

There is no additional information about Jonn Miller.  There is this statement – Catholic Doors Ministry operates from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Even after googling “Jonn Miller saskatoon saskatchewan Canada” or “Jonn Miller Catholic Doors Ministry” I did not find any significant information Jonn, specifically a short bio or any additional information about this person.

History of Baptism – Wikipedia.  In general I, do not recommend Wikipedia articles as I will always want to compare and contrast with recognizable other sources the content of their material especially related to faith based articles.  Why?  My personal bias is that a website with faith and theological content needs to be reviewed by theologians (academic or practical) who are recognized for their expertise.  In general, Wikipedia articles are written and edited by those who sign up with Wikipedia.  There is no vetting process to acknowledge that we are receiving good theology in these articles.  And even if approved, by fact that this is a wiki tool, anyone can come and add information at any time that may or may not be accurate.  When I check the “Cite This Page” I notice that the Author is listed as “Wikipedia Contributors.”  I have no idea who these contributors are as they are not listed.  Thus, there is no way to learn more about these authors.

The Challenge of Digital Faith Research

Gone are the days when there are only ONE or TWO resources to read.  Today’s digital world is a library of articles written by a variety of writers who have and do not have a theological background. Our task is to find the best articles to assist us in learning more about our faith.

As I ask questions about my faith – Who is Jesus? Where did he live? What is the Bible? How do I study the Bible online? And many other questions, it is possible to ask Google or any other Search Engine to assist us in learning more about our faith.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass (CC)

However, the task is now on us to locate and find the information that will truly enlighten us!  We need to admit that today we live in a church with a rainbow of theologies: Pre-Vatican II, Vatican II, and Post Vatican II.  This rainbow of theologies is represented in the articles we find on the Internet.

I particpated on February 6, 2017 at a Listening Session where our new Bishop Gregory Parkes, invited parish members to share their insights around three questions.  As I listened to the shared comments representing the 500 persons attending this event, I heard statements that reflected the rainbow of theologies that currently exist in our church.

Because we are simple human beings, we will gravitate towards our personal bias and expect others to believe like us.  It is time to respect and learn from one another.  We all have a bit of the truth that we are invited to learn from one another.

It is not time to “push” our beliefs onto others.  It is time to engage in a conversation or dialogue that allows me to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus.

As you engage in Internet research to learn more about your faith, come with clear questions you are using to guide you in picking your resources.  Take the time you need to “discern” and “choose” the best articles to read and reflect on that will engage you in becoming a faith-filled Catholic!

Remember it is not what you know about your faith!  It is about knowing and coming to a deeper relationship with Jesus!

Tell A Gospel Story

KidsSpace is a website sponsored by the Toronto Public Library. One of the helpful tools is a way to engage children in telling a story. After I played with the tool, here is a suggestion for you to use in a children’s faith formation class.

The tool to use is Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder.

I would invite children to use this tool at home to retell an assigned Gospel story using the images and creativity of the children. Perhaps this could be the Gospel story for a given Sunday. Once the story is completed and approved by you, it can be used in various ways.

Suggested Steps:

  • Assign a Gospel story to read, for example – The Beatitudes story in Matthew 5: 1-10 (You may want to refer the children to the Superbook Bible for the text or they can use a Bible that is at home.
  • Invite students to use Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder to tell the story using the various tools that are available: backgrounds, characters, etc. They get to choose a setting and characters for the story to make it a unique story that they tell.
  • Once the story is created, tell them to click the [Send] button. A box will appear asking for who they are going to send the story to and for their name and email address. If they are working at home, ask them to invite their parents to view the story before they forward to you. Tell the child that they are to ask their parents to insert a parent email with the child’s name.

beat-1 beat-3

  • Once they have completed sending the story to you, they will see a box that says “SUCCESS! The card…”. Click on OK.

beat-2

  • Check your email

beat-3

  • Once you have a link, click on the link and you will have access to the story. Click on the green arrow in the right-hand corner to page through the story.

beat-4

  • Here is an example of a story for you. Click here.

Would love to hear your stories of how you may be engaging your children/youth in retelling the Gospel stories that so gift our daily lives. Blessings all!

Me! Build a Website?

WELCOME TO OUR GUEST BLOGGER, THERESA SALAZAR!

Website Home Page

Website Home Page

I really needed to update my faith formation program! No, not the textbooks, catechist materials, or catechetical methods. These were current. I needed to update our internet presence, or rather our non-existent internet presence. We had no website. Yes, I can understand your gasp of utter shock. You are probably saying, “What century do you live in!”

Actually, I was born before the internet was invented. My children taught me how to use the computer and after listening to warnings about the “dangers” of the internet, I learned how to cautiously search for information, documents and websites. Soon it became second nature to go to the internet for all types of information and communication. So why didn’t our faith formation program have a website?

When I was hired as Director of Religious Education eleven years ago only the secretary had computer skills. That soon changed and as a result all our record keeping, forms and some communication became computerized. We were humming along with e-mail, internet access, and had Wi-Fi available for our catechists in the building. I was happy, until. . . . .

A few months ago I was invited to attend an on-line class about using social media to spread the good news of the Gospel. I had never participated in an on-line class and thought this would be a good way to update my computer skills. I signed up for the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp   which was a four-month class that met online every two weeks. We covered the importance about using the internet to evangelize and communicate using the different social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others, the usefulness of wikis, blogs, websites and cloud based tools, and the different websites that have free pictures and tools available. As I was learning all this it struck me that our own program did not have a website. But, what could I do? I had heard that websites were complicated and expensive to build.

One of the classes had talked about websites that allow you to build for free and were simple to use. I decided to look at these websites and see what I could do. I explored two websites, WordPress and Wix. I found that Wix.com was easier than WordPress. Wix was a drag and drop type program similar to Publisher or PowerPoint.

I signed up for the free website at Wix and chose a template for my homepage. As I worked with it, I didn’t like how my homepage was turning out, so I changed the template. From there I learned how to add titles, more pages, subpages, pictures, documents and calendars. I was amazed at the things I could do, and there is so much more that I haven’t even tried. The more I did the more I wanted to do. For example, I posted all the information and requirements that I thought were needed about our First Communion program. Then I thought it would be convenient for our parishioners to have the registration forms available, so I learned how to add those as PDF’s. Of course we always give out a calendar when parents register their children, so why not put that on the website as well? Now I’m thinking it would be great if we had a way that parents could pay the registration fee with a credit card, and I should have a page for quick updates and reminders or use a Twitter account for that. I could put a link on my site to my Twitter account (@therese_salazar). The ideas and possibilities are endless!

I am just beginning my website presence. I’m just learning, but if I can do it, anyone can do it. Remember, I was born before the computer existed. I was born when television was still black and white, and here I am creating a website! Is my website awesome? Is it stunning?

No, right now it is basic, very basic. But for me, that is more than what we had a few months ago. With this site our Faith Formation program will be adding a much-needed and updated method of reaching out to and communicating with our parishioners. As time goes by I hope to make it better and more interactive. Am I happy now? Yes. I am happy because we are able to reach out to the new generation and work with them in the way they know and understand. Am I satisfied? No. I know that this is just the beginning and I still have a lot more learning and work to do.

In the meantime, check out my website. I have not gotten a domain name or linked my website to our parish website because our pastor wants to update the parish website and has asked me to wait until that happens. But, until then my website can be found at: www.theresesalazar777.wix.com/mysite-2

Therese L. Salazar,MA

Director of Religious Education

Our Lady of Belen Church

Belen, New Mexico

How to Make & Share a Scripture Story Video on Facebook

zaccheaus

 

Every parish has a Facebook page!  So what about creating a short Sunday Gospel video that highlights the scripture story of the day?  In addition, include one, two, or three reflection questions for the week!

Once created, you can add to your parish Facebook page.  Perhaps this is a project for your junior or senior high students or even your RCIA participants. It becomes a 21st Century way of studying the weekly scripture and sharing with others. It can easily be viewed on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Here’s how you can make a Gospel story video that will engage the creators in telling the Gospel story in a meaningful way.  Follow these steps:

  1. Read the Gospel

As you read the Sunday Gospel, have a highlighter in hand.  Highlight the “phrases” that stand out for you in this reading.

For example – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Lectionary: 153 – Phrases:

  • Jesus came to Jericho
  • A man there named Zacchaeus
  • Chief tax collector
  • Wealthy Man
  • Seeking to see who Jesus was
  • Could not see him because of the crowd
  • He was short
  • Climbed a sycamore tree
  • Jesus looked up
  • Zacchaeus, come down quickly
  • I must stay at your house
  • Jesus received him with joy
  • Everyone began to grumble
  • Staying at the house of a sinner
  • Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor
  • If I exhorted – I shall repay it four times over
  • Today salvation has come to this house
  1. Go to Google Images

Using the search phrase “Creative Commons Zacchaeus” or “Creative Commons (image type)” look for images that will match the phrases you identified.  Remember you want to locate images that are free and may be used without violating copyright laws.  Here are a few examples for images that may be used in this video.

Jericho 

JesusinJericho

Z-Climb-Tree

Zacchaeus in tree

Zacchaeus in Crowd

All Grumble

Z said I will…

Z in house

House

Jesus

Now you have several images that could be used in your video

  1. Draft a Script

Once you have images, and have identified phrases, draft a script that you will use with Animoto (an online video tool that uses images, text, and images) for creating your video.  Remember as you draft your script to keep the phrases short as Animoto allows you to use no more than –

  • 40 characters for a Title
  • 50 characters for a SubTitle
  • 50 characters for a Caption

For example:

Text Graphic
TITLE: Thirty-First Sunday – Ordinary Time – October 30, 2016

 

     None
TITLE: Jesus Came To Jericho – Luke 19: 1-10

 

     None
Jesus came to Jericho

 

     Jesus Face
Zacchaeus the chief tax collector and wealthy  lived there

 

     Jericho Sign
He was seeking to see who Jesus was

 

     Jesus in crowd
Could not see him because of the crowd

 

     Z in crowd
He climbed a Sycamore tree

 

     Z in tree
Jesus looked up and said “I must stay at your house”

 

     Z in tree
Everyone began to grumble – He’s a sinner!

 

     Grumble
Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor

 

     Z in house
If I extorted – I shall repay it four times over

 

     Z in house
Today salvation has come to this house

 

     House
How have you experienced the seeking or saving power of Jesus in your life (maybe even in the past week)?

 

     Question
What are some ways Jesus has changed you?

 

     Question
How can you be a witness to Jesus’ transforming power in your life?

 

     Question
TITLE: Credits – FreebibleImages.com and Creative Commons Images

 

     None
TITLE: Blessings  – Enjoy a wonderful week

 

     None
None (Note: You could add the name of your parish here and any other short message you would like).      Fall Colored Leaf

 

Once you have a script you are now ready to work with Animoto, an online tool that uses your photos and text to create a professional video slideshow simply and easily.  Animoto is easy to learn and easy to use.  If you are unfamiliar with Animoto, go to YouTube and search for “Animoto Tutorial” to learn the ins and outs of this tool.

  1. Sign in to Animoto

Sign into your account.  If you do not have an account you can register for one.  You can create a 30-second video on a trial version. There are various options so that you can create Animoto videos that are longer than 30-seconds.  You can apply as an “educator” for a FREE ANIMOTO PLUS ACCOUNT. Or you can apply for ANIMOTO FOR A CAUSE. If you purchase an annual Animoto plan, you are able to create videos that are Full Length (i.e., longer than 30-seconds).

  1. Choose a video style

Set the mood for your video by choosing a video style.  There are a number of video styles to choose from.  Pick something that enhances your Scripture story.

  1. Add your photos/images

Once you have chosen a style, it’s time to add your photos.  You can upload files from your computer to be used in the template.  Once your images/photos are added, if needed, you can click and drag the blocks to change their order.

  1. Add titles/text to tell the story

Once the photos/images are added, click on them to add captions or click Add text to add a title card.  Remember to create a title screen.animoto-sharing

Test as you continue to “tweak” your video.  When you are ready, click on Publish.  You will receive an email from Animoto to tell you that your video is ready.  Once you have a link you can share in a variety of ways.

 

 

 

 

Click on image for Video

Click on image for Video

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!

 

Top 16 Sites and Apps of 2015 for Catechists

Blog-Apps

Recently, David Kapular shared a blog article Top 50 Sites and Apps of 2015. As I read through his list, I picked 16 that I felt had some possibility in the religion classroom.  I invite those who read this blog to try one, two, or three of these suggestions.  Please come back and share your story about how you are using the App in your program.  Or, if you would like to update us about the App in Catechesis20, please contact me by clicking on Contact Me.

  1. Seesaw– Excellent free mobile app (Android/iOS) for students creating digital portfolio with educational portal.
  2. Oncore– A free to use iPad app for teachers that acts like an all-in-one Learning Management System, where educators can assess students, take attendance, communicate with parents, and much more.
  3. Plotagon– A wonderful site/app for digital storytelling where students create animated movies (i.e Xtranormal) by typing a script.
  4. Sketch Nation– A great free site/app (iOS/Android) for creating games.  Students can also work on their STEM skills and learn the basics of programming.
  5. Ignite Teaching– An excellent free iPad app for Project Based Learning through collaborative digital presentations/projects.
  6. WhatsDue– A cool new free mobile app (iOS/Android) for keeping students and parents up to date on what is happening in the classroom.
  7. Bloomz– Bloomz is a free (iOS/Android) app for educators looking to communicate with parents via mobile devices.
  8. Versal– A nice site for creating interactive digital lessons, that is ideal for online learning.
  9. Learnteria–  A new site for educators looking for reviews on a wide variety items, such as: sites, books, apps, and more.
  10. Story Shares– An interesting new site for readers grades K-12th.  Story Shares creates digital books that are customized per Reading Level.
  11. Quizizz– A excellent site for creating multiplayer quizzes where educators get results in real-time.
  12. Choosito– A new and safe way to search the web for students and library resources.
  13. Make It– A nice iOS app for grades K-2nd for creating games, stories, slideshows, and more.
  14. FlipQuiz– A fun site for creating Jeopardy style game quizzes.
  15. Scoodle Jam– A great iPad app for grades K-6th ideal for Project Based Learning.  Students can create presentations, drawings, projects, and more as well as choose through lots of educational templates.
  16. Kidtopia– A nice safe COPPA/CIPA compliant search engine for kids/students.

For those who live in the Florida area, if you are interested in learning more about educational technology, I invite you to attend the Future of Educational Technology Conference.  For 36 years, FETC has brought education leaders and technology experts together to exchange techniques and strategies for teaching and learning success.  Known worldwide for its outstanding program FETC provides educators and administrators the opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum – from kindergarten to college – through hands-on exposure to the latest hardware, software and successful strategies.  FETC offers a wealth of information for all education professionals which can be easily adapted and used by ministry professionals.

Welcome to ACyberPilgrim 2016!

DigitalWordCloud

I’m not sure where 2015 went.  Here it is, it is now 2016!  So what will ACyberPilgrim be about this New Year?

I must admit, that it is always a challenge to pick a topic to share with you.  It is probably time to invite you to offer your suggestions.  What would you like me to write about in the area of faith-based educational technology?  Please take five minutes or less of your precious time to share your thoughts and ideas by clicking here.

As you ponder your response, new technologies have the potential to transform discipleship in our church.  The power of being a Digital Disciple is available to all of us today – parish members, youth, clergy, and religious. But, this potential will remain unrealized unless we empower our members with the digital skills necessary to be a Digital Disciple.

Grovo teaches Internet and technology skills.  Here is what they identify as the 8 core digital skills that the modern workforce requires to deliver on business goals and how to develop an action plant to address the digital skills gap in an organization:

  1. Working with documents
  2. Project collaboration & management
  3. Attention management
  4. Communication
  5. Digital etiquette
  6. Search and research
  7. Platform flexibility
  8. Security and privacy

Note: To learn more about the 8 core digital skills visit this PDF document.

I am inviting you to identify at least ONE digital skill that a minister needs today.  You have a question in the survey to share your thoughts and reflections.

Thank you for visiting this blog.  And I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with me.  Blessings to you in this Year of Mercy!

 

 

 

 

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