Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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.

 

VolunteerSpot: Free Online Sign Up Tool with Reminders

VolunteerSpot - Free Signup Sheets and Scheduling

Church ministry is nothing if not a hands-on effort requiring deep collaboration from the congregation. Getting scheduled and staying organized when it comes to volunteer and parent-supported events and activities is a snap with free online signup sheets & scheduling tools from VolunteerSpot.com

VolunteerSpot helps congregation members easily sign up to participate and pitch in with seasonal and ongoing church activities – think acolytes, ushers, Easter egg hunts, potlucks, VBS, service days and more. ParentsVBS Signup Sheet and volunteers can quickly choose what to do or to bring with a few clicks on their computer or mobile device; confirmation and reminder messages are then sent automatically to help people stay on track. Congregation participants also have the ability to swap their spots or sync their commitments to their electronic calendars with the click of a button – and they never need to register a formal account or keep a password.

Applications:

  • Vacation Bible School
  • Parish carnival volunteers
  • Potlucks, picnics & meal circles
  • Ushers, greeters & fellowship volunteers
  • Retreats, conferences, mission trips
  • Sunday school snacks & helpers
  • Outreach ministry & service days
  • Prayer circles

Ministry and committee coordinators can easily schedule volunteer needs for one-time events or multi-day activities. When planning activities with multiple shifts (conferences, carnival booths, etc.), a handy ‘Auto-Fill” feature makes it easy to pre-fill times and even schedule a short break in between.

VolunteerSpot offers multiple ways to recruit and invite participants to your online signups too – including personal email invitations, sharable newsletter, Facebook or Twitter links, or via “Group Pages”, customized with a church logo.  A Group Page lets organizers post multiple activity signups in one place and then embeds into your church website with a button or i-frame.

VolunteerSpot’s free iPad app “Clipboard” mimics a traditional clipboard signup sheet and makes it easy for congregation members to sign up in person during gatherings and meetings.  Or, if you have a completed paper signup sheet already, you can enter assignments directly into the system. Reporting, messaging and customizable alerts also make this tool a time-saving instrument of communication for your congregation, a necessity in this digital age.

KID MIN ipad

Count on a greater volunteer response, more participation from your congregation, and a less stressful management experience with VolunteerSpot’s streamlined signups and volunteer calendars.

Click Here to try a live demo.

 

Note: Thank you to Karen Bantuveris and Jessica Young for sharing the article about the Volunteer Spot website.

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

Understanding the Life of Jesus

I’m always looking for wonderful examples of what others are doing to integrate technology into the teaching of Religion. I’d like to share “Understanding the Life of Jesus: an INCARNATION CATHOLIC School Big6 Research Project created by Rhonda Carrier.

Here is the project —

I encourage you to explore the project.  For those in Catholic Schools, you’ll see how Rhonda has applied the Common Core standards to this project.  More importantly, you begin to see how our students can be engaged with digital tools to expand and research faith topics.

Rhonda, thank you!  Excellent project!  For those who would like to meet Rhonda, I encourage you to attend the 5th Annual INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS Conference in Orlando, Florida.  Here you will have the opportunity to learn from Rhonda how she is integrating technology into the religion classroom.

For those who are catechists at the parish level, these are the kinds of projects you would like to learn about, as you can easily apply what you learn here with your children.

Faith Based Instructional Technologists: Do We Need Them?

Ever wonder what kinds of personnel are needed to nurture the integration of technology into our ministries?  I do!

Why? As an educational technology specialist (one of the hats that I wear), I often feel like others in ministry do not understand why this area of expertise is greatly needed in today’s church.

Dale Jonasson

Dale Jonasson

When I met Dale Jonasson, Director of Information Technology Services, Diocese of San Bernardino, at the 2013 Diocesan Information Systems Conference that was held in Dallas I was delighted to hear that he had recently hired an Educational Technologist for the Diocese. What a wonderful surprise!

Why this new position?  Dale said, “In the process of technology upgrades in all of our schools, we realized that the bigger challenge was to help the teachers to integrate and use technology in the classroom.  We also realized that we faced the same challenge in our parishes.”

As we spoke about these challenges, Dale mentioned that schools adapt to the integration of technology in the classroom faster than parishes.  Of course there are many reasons why this happens.  It appears, at the parish level that the integration of technology is not in the forefront of their priorities!

Yet, the young people present communicate with technology. So how do we stay connected to a generation that is rooted in a Digital Culture?  I would suggest that we learn from what others are doing in educational settings and adapt what we learn from them to our ministry world.

As Dale and I chatted, we also began to identify the differences between school and parish technology.  They are often at two different levels.  For example:

  1. A school will have the overall infrastructure that it needs to manage the needed technology, a lab, possibly a wireless network, and a staff person who is the school technology coordinator.
  2. A parish often has a home-style wireless infrastructure and volunteers who manage to cobble together a wired or wireless network.
  3. National standards like the ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) guides the overall direction in an educational setting.
  4. Technology standards normally do NOT exist for ministry or parish-based programs, except in a few diocesan locations.
  5. School staff has ongoing technology training.
  6. Diocesan workshop days offer workshops that focus on technology, but parish level catechetical leaders and volunteers may or may not attend.
  7. Publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill, and Pearson have the money to support the development of technology options for reading, writing, science, and math.  And the school market is ready to implement these options in their classrooms.
  8. Religion publishers have attempted to offer technology options.  Overall, the religion market is not ready to implement these options in their parishes.

In our ministry world, it appears that we are often working with the bare basics of technology.  Our school staffs are moving comfortably ahead in the technology world and leaving us behind – and this inequitable environment often exists in the same parish.

In the ministry world we are focused on the use of social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ but social media is just one part of a technology triangle.  In today’s technology world there are three areas of technology that are often referred to as the ICT Triangle:

  • Information Systems: These are the folks who keep the systems in operation
  • Communications: Before the Internet, these folks were concerned about newspapers, magazines, journals and the traditional print tools to communicate the news.  Today, they are transitioning to a Digital Means of Communicating that is more participatory than ever before through social media tools!
  • Educational Technology: Are those who make sure that these digital tools are used to enhance learning and assist others in learning how to best do this.

When these three areas work collaboratively, we have a system that is able to support the various technology needs in an organization.

The Diocese of San Bernardino is moving in the right direction.  Each part of the ICT triangle will be present within the same diocese.  My hope is that a collaborative model will spring up that will demonstrate how the best of these areas can contribute to the overall growth and development of technology as a major tool in 21st Century ministry.

I will be watching closely what will develop in the Diocese of San Bernardino. In order to learn from one another, would you respond to either of the two questions: (1) What is happening in your diocese or parish in the ICT triangle? Or (2) What policies exist in your parish to support youth in the parish by means of technology in faith formation?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

© Cerveny

Tag Cloud