Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Evangelization’ Category

Engaging the Digital Disciple

building-disciples

 

Today’s students have numerous gadgets in their pockets and backpacks – primarily smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Yet, have we considered how we could utilize these tools in faith formation? Perhaps you are just getting curious about how you could use these tools with your students.

In our curiosity, first determine the type of technological approach you would like to implement by considering the acronym SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Dominic Norrish in a recent post “Classroom practice – Power up to become a tech-savvy teacher” explains the SAMR acronym:

  • Substitution is where the technology does little to improve the learning process for the child, instead simply swapping one tool (a pencil) for another (Microsoft Word) with no change in the task (writing a story.)
  • Augmentation is still substitution, but you get a little more functionality for your time. Let’s say your pupils are drawing using Photoshop. The process may be easily editable (they don’t have to start from scratch) and quicker, so there are gains, but fundamentally the student is still completing the same assignment: drawing a picture.
  • Modification is where technology begins to change the way a task is taken on. For example, making audio recordings or videos of presentations so they can be referred to later or shared with absent classmates.
  • Redefinition is where technology really comes into its own. Here, the way a subject or task is managed is fundamentally changed. This could be the use of video conferencing to work collaboratively with classes across the world, or students creating story walks in the community where the narrative and instructions to reach the next point of the journey can be downloaded to iPads at certain GPS points.

Substitution or Augmentation styles of using technology really do not improve or change what we do in the classroom. Overall, we have access to a tool and use it instead of a pencil or it simply replaces how we do the task. The task at hand with today’s technology is to engage our students in participating as Digital Disciples to share their faith with others. The Architecture of Participation offers us new ways to consider using Web 2.0 learning technologies.

Steve-Wheeler

As I become more and more comfortable with Learning 2.0 technologies, I ask:

  • Am I facilitating a learning experience so that my students are able to learn more about their faith in a digital world?
  • Are they able to curate online materials so that they are able to identify reliable Catholic Internet content? After all, they often search for their information online!
  • Do I engage my students in using social bookmarking tools to tag and bookmark available digital resources? Could this be an opportunity to begin creating their lifelong digital library for faith formation?
  • Are we using news aggregator tools to follow faith news in blogs, online newspapers, podcasts and video blogs (vlogs)? Are we aware of current church news?
  • Am I using social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to engage our adolescent students in sharing and amplifying what they are learning about their faith with others?
  • How am I engaging my students to collaborate with others in social justice issues by using technology?

I believe that our job today as faith facilitators is to engage our students in learning their faith, and using the digital tools that we have at hand to share what they have learned with others. If and only if I take time to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, will I be ready to engage others in learning and sharing their faith. This is a time to pioneer and share our best practices with one another.

I invite you to consider how during the summer you will learn more about this digital world. Come back and share what is exciting you in this ever evolving digital world.

Resources for you:

Social Media Aggregation Tools

Aggregator options

11 Based tools for online surveys

 

Stations of the Cross

Embed from Getty Images

As Holy Week approaches, we will take time to remember the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus through the Stations. Why are the stations part of our prayer? It allows us to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.

Following is a suggestion to engage your students in preparing to pray the stations in church:

  • Look over the following Stations of the Cross, and determine which one is best used with your students. You can assign ONE station per small group of students or if you have a small group of students, you can assign a couple of stations per group. This is their background information for the station.

Creighton University Ministry Stations
USCCB Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross Especially for Children
Stations of the Cross: A Devotional Guide for Lent and Holy Week

  • After assigning a station to a small group of students, ask them to draw or choose an image that represents the station. Invite them to prepare a short meditation and prayer (one or two sentences) for the station they have been assigned. There are various ways they can create their image from drawing their station on paper and then scanning to an electronic format, or using electronic drawing tools to create their drawing, or simply going over to church to photograph the station that they have been assigned.

(Or you may work with your Youth Ministry group, to have students photograph the Stations of the Cross that are in your parish church and to organize them in a Dropbox folder so that your students will have access to the Station of the Cross images from your church.)

Example of a PPT Station Template

Example of a PPT Station Template

  • Using PowerPoint (You may want to use the suggested template or you may wish to design a template) invite your students to create a PPT slide that represents the Station that they have been asked to prepare and add the image, reflection, and prayer.
Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

  • Save the slide in two formats – 1) the usual PPT format and 2) the JPG format using the “Save As” function and for a File name use the format of Slide # (the number of the Station) so you will have files named Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, etc. For FILE TYPE, choose – JPEG File International Format.
  • Now that you have the slides in a graphic JPEG format that can be used by video tools like Animoto and 30 Hands, you are ready to create a video meditation that can be shared on your parish website. Or once uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, you can share the link with your families on the parish Facebook page or Tweet the link out to the world.

If you are not familiar with the suggested tools, you will find an introduction to these tools at the Catechesis 2.0 blog. Come and visit:

Animoto 
30 Hands

The FREE Animoto will only allow you to create a 30-second video. So, to do a longer video, you will need to purchase either a monthly subscription for $5.00 or an annual subscription for $30. I love this tool and have found that the annual investment is a wise decision. 30 Hands Mobile is a FREE app for those using a smartphone, iPad or tablet computer. Check out the 30 Hands website for additional information.

What is so helpful about this activity is that you are engaging your students in a traditional prayer experience of the church – The Stations of the Cross – by using the technology that they are very comfortable with.

You may also wish to review the following blog pages:
Stations of the Cross and Virtual Journeys, and
Stations of the Cross Multimedia for Lent

Blessings as we prepare to enter into this time of remembering the gift of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus!

© Caroline Cerveny , SSJ-TOSF

Websites Without a Lot of Work

weconnect-6

There are many parishes in our church with limited funds, limited staff, and would love to have a nice looking website. On Friday, March 28, 2014 I attended Websites Without a Lot of Work workshop hosted by the Diocese of St. Petersburg at the Bethany Center.

As I listened to Tim Potrikus, Vice President, Liturgical Publications, I began imagining the audience We Connect, a web Content Management System (CMS),  is designed for.

Are you the audience for this tool?  Possibly!  Now ask yourself a few questions, and answer with a Yes or No!

  1. We have a small budget for our parish website?
  2. We do not have a salary for a full time web master?
  3. It is time to involve our parish staff or parish organizations to be responsible for adding current information to our parish website?
  4. We’re looking for a web content tool that is easy to use and allows multi-contributors?
  5. We like the ability for assistance from a human person instead of hunting through a “Help” website?

If you answered “Yes” to at least four of these questions, I would encourage you to learn more about this very helpful tool. For parishes that are looking for a web presence, the templates and options that are offered to you give you a good start!

If you are saying that I do not have time to learn how to do this, I suggest the following:

  • Register for a webinar that will give you an overview of the tool. We Connect Webinars.
  • After you register for the webinar, send an email to Tim Potrikus at (tpotrikus@4LPi.com).  In the SUBJECT Line, just add BOOTCAMP with a message that you have registered for the webinar. Tim will arrange for a 30-day free trial for you.
  • During the trial period, initially, set-aside 1 to 4 hours to just get acquainted with the tool.  Each person is different, so if you need a longer time to learn the tool, go for it!
  • Once you are comfortable with the tool, use your parish bulletin to add the basic information related to your parish: Mission Statement, Mass times, etc.
  •  If you are a Youth Minister, or DRE/PCL, or Adult Formation Person, outline what information you want to include for your ministry area.
  • When you are ready, go to your online working space and add the information for your ministry area. (E.g., Brief description of your ministry, online registration forms, calendar, etc.).
  •  Once you are comfortable with what you have created, determine how you will share what you have done with your parish staff. Show them what you have created.
  •  What’s your goal? To get your parish staff excited about how easy it is to learn and create a parish web presence with a “team” of staff members involved in sharing the needed information about their ministries.
  • Be a cheer leader; tell folks that this was relatively easy to learn.  You do not need to be a rocket scientist to do this! (Note: In this 21st Century, it is time to include in our job positions something like the following: Able to write, edit, and enter website content using a Content Management System. (e.g., We Connect, WordPress, and other website tools).

The cost for the CMS is reasonable! There is a one-time setup and activation fee ($995) but there is no long term contract commitment.  This includes access to help desk assistance with a WeConnect staff person.

Once it is clear that a web content manager tool is taking the place of a FULL TIME WEBMASTER, your parish team, which you could call a Digital Discipleship Committee, would meet from time to time to encourage and support one another as together you continue to learn how to communicate to your parish using web tools.

As you slowly learn more about website ministry, you will be able to craft the messages that your parish community needs.

To learn more about the WeConnect web content management system tool, go to: We Connect.

You may also enjoy the Building a Great Church Website PowerPoint.

If you have a moment, check out the parish websites that have been built with the WeConnect Content Management System (CMS):

St. Matthew Website

St. Matthew Church

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton

 

National Catholic Sisters Week

TY-Sister

National Catholic Sisters Week  is launching this year during the second week of March (March 8-14) as part of National Women’s History Month.

As I read the NCR article, I was excited about the following –

In an attempt to record untold stories by women who have served for decades in challenging ministries, St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota is sponsoring a student-led initiative. Students are producing interviews or short films about sisters they know to create an extensive oral history.

“As a student producer I will connect with a sister and hear her story,” said St. Catherine student Dominique Caya. “Not by just asking her in an interview style, though that will be part of it, but more, getting to know her on a personal level. While doing this I will blog about it, either in writing or video, and post my sister’s story on social media.”

This would be a wonderful project for any religious education class (schools or parish catechetical programs) to engage in.  Many of our religious education students are creating videos in their everyday classes.  Why not invite them to share their talents in creating video stories of sisters they may know or may be meeting for the first time.

If you’re not sure how to conduct this type of project with your students, the following links will help you:

You may also wish to visit “SisterStories: How Did I Know” website.  There are some wonderful suggestions here for you to celebrate the gift of religious women in our church.

(c) 2014 Cerveny

New Year Resolutions for Our Catechists

Paul with Grandkids and iPad

As I was reading Isaac Pineda’s blog post “3 New Year’s resolutions educators should consider,” I thought – What New Year resolutions do we need to inspire our catechists in this wonderful 2014?

I invite you to share this post with your catechists, as we are in a year where the Digital Culture will continue to surround our ministry.  We need to become Digital and Connected Disciples!

Become a connected catechist.

I love what Isaac says – “Becoming a connected educator (catechist) is one of the widest decisions that will have an impact on you, the kids you teach and everyone around you.  But, what does it mean? It’s simply harnessing the power of technology to leverage your instructions.  It’s incorporating technology in your teaching practice to boost student engagement and motivation.  It’s a commitment to become a lifelong learner.”

How can we do this?  Someone in the parish needs to lead others to become “connected catechists”.  It may be your DRE, or there may be a tech savvy catechist who collaborates with the parish DRE and mentors others in the parish to improve their technology skills.  One of the best training programs is Digital Discipleship Boot Camp.  Read 21 Inspiring Messages and hear from those who have completed this training.

This program is now completely ONLINE and can be completed from the comfort of your home or office. The Winter Session begins on February 4, 2014 and the Summer Session begins on June 10.  Check out the schedule and register here. Of course, if you would like a trainer to come to your location, we can work with you in a blended format where Modules One and Two are presented at a location of your choice and the other modules are presented online.

Once you are a connected catechist, then you become the pioneer, adapting what you have learned to enhance what you do in your classroom.  Come and visit the following websites:

  • Catechesis 2.0 – Several bloggers share tools that can be easily used for Digital Storytellling and more.
  • ACyberPilgrim –  a conversation about Digital Discipleship
  • Digital Catechesis  – A worldwide community for advancing the effective use of technology in all areas of faith formation.  There is a wonderful video library here that members of this online group have shared and used in their ministries.

I invite you to come back to any of the three blogs to share your story of becoming a connected catechist.  We need to inspire one another on this new journey!  In this New Year, do resolve to learn all that you are able so that you can truly inspire your students to become Digital Disciples in this ever evolving Digital World!

Happy New Year!

HNYear-2014

Earth Day: May 22, 2013

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a video “Magnificent” with a message “I found this video to help you celebrate Earth Day.”

Magnificent

Magnificent

Easter week I was with members of my religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, TOSF for our General Chapter sessions.  We affirmed at that time the statement:

As FRANCISCANS centered on the revelation of the emerging COSMIC Christ, contemplating and celebrating this DIVINE action I our lives.  Our deepest desires are to:

  • BUILD life-giving trusting communities that cherish each one’s personal gifts.
  • EMPOWER one another to live the truth of Gospel values.
  • BOND with others in ever-widening circles of compassion and peace.
  • SPEAK to the Church and to the world from our common understanding that there be no outcasts in our experience of life on this earth.

As I reflect on this statement getting ready to celebrate “Earth Day” I am reflecting on how our church reverences human life and the environment.  You will find excellent resources in the area of Environment on the USCCB website.  Why is the environment important!  It supports our very lives – the air we breathe, the food we eat, and more.  Without the right environment, it would be a challenge to live.

So, on this Earth Day – let us celebrate and give thanks for this wonderful earth.  Some simple ways to share this event with others:

  • Share the video “Magnificent” with others on your Facebook page or simply email the link to them with your message.
  • Find a Climate Change Quote and add it to your Facebook page.  You may wish to use Quozio for this task.
  • If you are teaching or for children in your family, you can find Printable Earth Day Worksheets to print off for your children and take time to talk with them about the importance of caring for the Earth.
  • Take a moment to say a Prayer to Care for Creation.  Personally, I love St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun.

Of course, if you like this post, just click the “Like” button.  Or take a moment to share how you are celebrating Earth Day with your family, friends, or students.

© 2013 Cerveny.

Our Easter Celebration

The Sunrise Mass held at Philipe Park  in Safety Harbor, a short walk from Espiritu Santo Catholic Church is one of my favorite liturgies.  Why?  In the quiet of an Easter morning we walk in the dark to find our place and then the gift of a morning sunrise reminds us what it was like for Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who were on their way to the tomb, just after sunrise.

Imagine their astonishment, as we ponder the words of Mark 16: 4-7:

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay

So my Easter Week, begins at the edge of Tampa Bay.  During this wonderful “Easter Week” I ponder the fact the “He has risen!”  What does that really mean for me today in a culture that is surrounded by a variety of issues – being homeless, an immigrant, being cyberbullied, racism, drug abuse, child abuse, the environment, and more.

I invite each of you to share how you ponder this gift of the Lord now being alive in our everyday lives! Or take a moment to reflect on Seeing Myself in Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Sister Bernadette Reis, fsp.

What does it mean to have the Lord with us always? Does this awareness assist us in being the presence where we share our gifts and talents to change some part of the world around us to be better than we first found it?

I guess I wonder, why do I celebrate this feast of Easter if I am not willing to be one who shares the Risen Lord with those I meet on a daily basis?

Do we see love, grace and more in the incredible life of Jesus, who says, “He is with us always?”

Of course, if you like this post, just click the “Like” button.  Or take a moment to share how the Lord is with you in your everyday life.

© 2013 Cerveny.

 

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