Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for the ‘NCCL’ Category

Using YouTube Videos for Prayer

For those who are members of the Digital Catechesis Network when you search the video collection with the “prayer” tag you will find wonderful resources that can enhance your prayer experiences.

A few of these videos are:

Many of these resources are on YouTube.  I would encourage you to search YouTube for the gems that would be a wonderful addition to your prayer experiences.  Together let’s explore and find the videos that we can use to enhance our prayer experiences.

If you would like to join Digital Catechesis, please click on the link and click on the join button.  You will be able to locate videos that others have found to be of value to them or you can add your wonderful find to the group.

There are many wonderful videos on the YouTube network, that are FREE.  Even if you do not have the equipment that you need to display them in your classroom, you may email the link to your students and families via an email or embed in a blog post or who knows what other options you have!  You can use these videos to enhance what you are doing in Faith Formation with your students, youth, and families.

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Copyright ©2012Caroline Cerveny

Trends and Challenges: What Parish Technologists?

Tech Team

Recently, a friend asked me – Who do we need to help us move into the world of technology at the parish level?

As I continue to ponder the question, I am venturing to recommend that we need the following type of members on our parish staffs:

  • Information Technology Specialists: These are the folks who are often called the “techies.”  They are the ones who set-up our networks, Wi-Fi connections, upgrade and repair our computers, and more.
  • Educational Technology Specialists: Are educators who know how to integrate technology into the learning process.  The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are core to this process, guiding administrators, teachers, and students in 21st Century Learning.  They are mentors, trainers, and model how to use technology in faith-learning.
  • Communication Technology Specialists: Before the Digital World arrived, we talked about public relations, marketers, and journalists who were involved with creating newsletters, figuring out how to promote a product and a service, and wrote our daily newspaper stories.  This world is in a major flux as we now speak about NEW MEDIA, and talk about web masters, bloggers, mini-bloggers, marketing using Facebook tools, and more.

I will often read the want ads in the Sunday paper or search websites that focus on announcing available positions.  Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that companies who are immersed in the ever evolving Digital World are announcing positions with new names and jobs that attract those who have new skills.  For example, today – if we look in the want ad sections – we’ll find a call for:

Positions that focus on Information and Communication Technology Specialists are emerging at the diocesan and parish levels.  However, positions that focus on educational technology tend to be found in the school staff listings.  The educational technologist is also needed in the catechetical and parish setting.

I’m probably one of the few catechetical ministers, primarily serving parish communities, who has a MA in Religious Studies as well as a MA in Educational Technology.  Since 1983, I have learned to “walk the walk and talk the talk” of the educational technology world.

The educational technology world is wide and vast!  I would especially encourage today’s catechetical ministers to consider how they can enhance their digital skills in a variety of areas.  Explore Full Sail University  and ask – Do we need to know how to create learning games so that our students can be engaged in learning about their faith in a global world by engaging in learning games that focus on Global Issues, Peace & Justice, and other faith themes?  Will we evangelize via our websites that are creatively designed?

Another online program is listed at Walden University, one of the oldest online schools in the country, is the Educational Specialist in Educational Technology Programs.  What can be learned here can be applied to most learning environments – even faith based learning environments.

How do you see yourself growing in using digital skills to serve the 21st Century Church? Would love to hear your story of how you are growing in these new skills!  What new positions are being created at the parish or diocesan levels to bring a better understanding of learning technologies and new media?

If you like this post, take a moment to click on the LIKE button below.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Using VoiceThread for Advent Prayer

What is VoiceThread?

In the VoiceThread Workshop handout, it is described —

A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.

One of the best examples I’ve seen is Weather: Art and Poetry by students in Mrs. Mattson’s 3rd Grade class.

Now imagine how you could use this tool for Advent Prayer.

I would encourage you to do the following:

  1. Explain the season of Advent to your students.
  2. Break the class into 4 groups.  Group 1 students will work on prayers for the first week of Advent, Group 2 the second week in Advent, etc.
  3. Guide them in creating an Advent Prayer for their assigned week.
  4. If you do not have computers in the classroom you can —
  • Invite students to write and create their Advent prayer on an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper. Later, you can scan  this image to use in the class Voice Thread.
  • Or, assign the students to work on their prayer at home on their computers, tablets or any other digital tools that can be used to create a JPEG file.  You could use a variety of tools: MS Paint, MS PowerPoint – saving in a JPEG format, or Google Docs – Presentations, or any other tool that allows the student to create a text and graphic file that can be easily saved in a JPEG format.

If you have access to computers during your session, you can create the Advent Prayer during your class.

  1. Where students have an electronic file, guide them how you want to receive this file – via a thumb disk, email you, add to a Dropbox sharing file or any other way that you can easily receive the file from a student.
  2. Once you have the electronic files, you can add these images in the order of Week 1 through Week 4 on the VoiceThread tool.  (Remember you will need to sign-up for an account).  Here is also an opportunity to invite a high school student to work with you on the project.  You can briefly introduce them to VoiceThread and this blog article to become acquainted with the project.
  3. Once you have the Advent VoiceThread set-up, you can add it to your website, class blog, write a short article for your parish bulletin and invite members of your parish and families of your students to come to the Advent VoiceThread to add their comments and/or Advent prayer.

When you have your class Advent VoiceThread online, do come back here to share with us what your class did.  We all would love to hear about this project with your students.

Visit the VoiceThread website to learn more about this wonderful tool.

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Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Quizlet – a study service for your students!

Would you love to have a FREE study service for your students?  I would!  You can provide your students with a way to learn their basic facts with Quizlet.  Come and explore!


The best way is to start with a Quizlet tutorial

It is a tool that you can use in a variety of ways:

  • Teachers and catechists can develop a quiz for their students
  • Students can develop a quiz for an assignment that is then shared with the class.  Each week I would invite two or three students to create a quiz that is then shared with other class members.  Invite them to  work in teams.
  • You can use Quizlet websites created by others.

As I searched for Religion options on the Quizlet website, this is what I discovered:

Quizlet for Scripture Final

Quizlet - Apostles

Quizlet for Church

It is easy to SHARE your quizlet!  All you need to do is use the “share” section of the Quizlet website.

Quizlet Share

If your students are using any of the social media tools, you can forward directly to your class Facebook group page or share via Twitter.  Or embed on the class blog or email to your students.  Choose what is best for your class.

If you “LIKE” this post, remember to click on the LIKE button.  Know someone who would benefit from this post, click on the SHARE button and forward to them.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

25 Signs You’re a 21st Century Catechist

Are catechists becoming 21st Century faith leaders?  Let’s explore how this could happen!  PLUS, if you have a sign to share….you may win!   Keep reading to find out how…

Here are 25 signs that you are a 21st Century Catechist:

  1. You have taught your students how to find excellent Catholic resources that are now available on the Internet.
  2. You require your students to use a variety of Internet sources when they are creating PowerPoint research projects.
  3. You use a blog to communicate with your students and parents.
  4. You use a blog to engage your students in the study of their faith.  For example – Finding God-Week One.
  5. You use a discussion tool like Collaborize Classroom to engage your students in online faith sharing with one another.
  6. Your use of SKYPE in the classroom allows your students to meet and speak with Catholic leaders who reside in different parts of the country.
  7. Your students work on collaborative projects with students in other countries – like the Global Church Project (See pgs. 10-11) with students in Australia.
  8. Your students participate in class by tweeting their questions and comments using the #hashtag option.
  9. You have taught your students how to create a 30-second video prayer reflection using Animoto.
  10. You promote digital etiquette with your students helping them navigate and stay safe in their media world.
  11. You notice that many students come to class with their cell and smartphones and work with your pastor and administrators in paving the way to use these tools in your catechetical lessons.
  12. You have explained to your parents how a cell phone will be used in your classroom and have a permission form for parents to approve of this use in the classroom.
  13. You have engaged your students in creating an agreement that covers safety, etiquette, responsibility, and opportunity (e.g., If this project goes well, students may suggest future cell phone assignments.)
  14. Your students have interviewed members of your parish who have been involved in major parish historical events (e.g., the founding of the parish, welcoming the bishop during his parish visit, and other important parish events).  They have posted these interviews to a blog.
  15. You provide an Oral Quiz for your grades 6 to 8 or 9 to 12 students using YouMail and their cell phone.
  16. Your students have researched local faith landmarks (churches, shrines, cathedrals, historical home, statue or sculpture, etc.) and created a photoblog Web page that describes the significant features of the landmark.
  17. Your students create a study guide by working together in a group wiki.
  18. Your classroom budget is tight, but it doesn’t matter because there are so many free Web 2.0 resources available for your use.  (Blog example link here)
  19. You are aware that many teachers are utilizing educational technology options in their everyday classrooms, you read their blogs and join online communities to learn about their best practices, and then adapt these concepts to your religion classroom.
  20. You take your students on a field trip to the Holy Land in Lent and never leave your classroom.
  21. You visit the Vatican with your students and don’t spend a dime.
  22. You teach your students to respect one another and not to be bullies or cyberbullies.
  23. You have your morning coffee while checking your RSS feed.
  24. You tweet this page, blog about it, “like” it, or email it to another catechist.
  25. On the 9/11 Anniversary, you have found articles like “Out of Many, One: A Community Art Project” by Muriel Stockdale and other authors.

BONUS 26. You’re a member of the Digital Catechesis Community…or have encouraged a catechist to join!

SPECIAL PRIZE: If this post receives 100 comments (within 2 weeks of post date) with additional signs of being a 21st century catechists, I will pick one person at random to receive a FREE conference registration to INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS CONFERENCE & EXPO (January 23-26, 2012) in Orlando, FL and a runner up to receive a “Digital Footprint” t-shirt.  So comment now – your additional sign of being a 21st century catechist and PASS IT ON!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

40 Days and 40 Nights!

Frank Yamada, president of McCormick Seminary, recently said, “Forty days often represents some weighty symbolic moment in the biblical world.”  I’d like to believe, that the survey  results provided by Tom and Rita Walters will provide us with a symbolic moment to help us recognize that we need to wake-up to the 21st Century around us and get with it in the area of technology in Catechetics!

Figure A summarizes the results of the Spring, 2011 survey.  Please look carefully at the findings.  This data is real!  I’m concerned that we are relying on pre-21st Century methodology with Digital Natives!  I’m looking forward to your being part of this conversation.


Figure A

We have been invited to offer our reflections with Tom.  I am sharing my reflections with him via this blog.  I am inviting you to share in this conversation so that we can share our wisdom with one another as we engage Digital Natives to be engaged in learning and sharing their faith. As I ponder the results, here are my observations.  I am inviting you to share your insights and observations.

  1. Email appears to be the primary way for parish communications, however recent articles  indicate that families are more involved with social media and other communication tools.  Tools for parish registration (e.g., Flocknote) are now asking those who register to indicate what mode of communication they prefer – phone, email, texting, social media like FB and so on.  Are we listening to what they tell us? Are we comfortable with the tools our students and families are comfortable with?
  2. Communication via a static website appears to be the norm (49.2%). Online communication is becoming more and more of a participatory nature.  Our models do not necessarily encourage or allow online participation, how do we prepare ourselves to use the mostly free social communication tools to engage our membership in sharing their faith wisdom and news?
  3. Unfortunately classroom projectors and the Smartboard are “lumped together”.  A projector is a very different tool from a “Smartboard.”  I’m wondering – what percentage of religion classrooms are actually using a “Smartboard?”   However if the projectors are LCD projectors, with the addition of Smartboards…we still have a small percentage (about 23%) of our religion classrooms beginning to use standard and normal 21st century tools. This would also indicate that few classrooms have little or no access to laptops/computers/tablets or the Internet.    Those who have these tools, what are your success stories?  Any problems?
  4. Online courses could be a major way of teaching and forming our catechetical volunteers and leaders.  Instead only 17.5% responded that they have taken online courses which indicates that we still have a long way to go.  The resistance to online learning experiences is often rooted in the mindset that F2F learning is superior to online learning.  Research tells us otherwise, especially in support of a blended format.  Are we ready to teach or learn the faith in a blended format?  Do we dare explore webinars, SKYPE presenters, and more at the parish level?
  5. Of the social tools, Facebook stands out as a recognized tool for social communication (20%). While NOT a tool appropriate for students younger than 13, the potential of this tool is not always understood by catechetical leadership.  Now with the advent of other social tools like Google+, the uniqueness of each tool needs to be understood.  The minimum use of blogs, mini-blogs (e.g., Twitter) and Listservs also indicates that our audience is limited in their tech saviness.  Research indicates that the unique use of Facebook, Twitter, and a Blog enhances overall communication for a product or service.  In the religious marketplace, we need to learn how to utilize these tools to benefit our ministries and overall communication.  Do we see the need to do this? Where are the pastoral success stories with these tools?  Where is the training?
  6. Moodle is a course management system or a learning management system (LMS).  Most of our catechetical personnel have little or no experience in integrating electronic tools into a learning process.  Even free tools like “Collaborize Classroom” could be used to enhance student or catechist interaction and online conversation.  However, the “technology rich environment” that is needed for these types of tools to be used in a classroom, does not exist at the parish level.  If it does exist, it exists in the school setting and is often NOT shared with the religious education/catechetical group.  For the Church to become a 21st Century Learning Community, we will need a radically new way to imagine how we do technology in the parish!  What we are currently doing today is not bringing us into being a 21st Century Church using new media tools for evangelization and learning.  We have yet to learn how to be “Digital Disciples.” What do we need to do to have ministers prepared to teach and evangelize in an online community?  Will all ministries (school, religious education, youth ministry, and more) have equal access to the technologies that they need at the parish level?
  7. Electronic textbooks are being talked about and demonstrated in various ways.  Where this will go is still in the discussion stage.  Will textbooks go completely electronic?  Some say yes and others say no!  I love my Kindle and iPad.  And when I’m reading a traditional book – I love that as well.  Yet, if and when our publishers create electronic e-books, will WE be ready for this next generation of learning tools?  There is more to this than meets the eye!

I’d love to hear your comments and perceptions related to these statistics.  What questions come to mind?  What success stories are currently happening?  What issues are we facing in a culture and world that uses electronic tools in a variety of ways to enhance learning?  I am inviting you to enter into the conversation!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Wikis in Your Religion Classroom

What is a wiki?

Well I love the Wikis in Plain English Video!  Watch it now to learn more about what is an editable webpage/site that is great for collaboration.

To learn more about what wiki you might use, you could use the WikiMatrix.  The three wiki’s that are often recommended are:

To learn more about these wikis, check these titles on the left side of the WikiMatrix and click on the compare button.

Wiki Comp

Your screen will show a comparison of these tools covering the areas of:

  • General Features
  • Hosting Features
  • Security/Anti Spam
  • Development/Support
  • Common Features
  • Special Features
  • Links
  • Syntax Features
  • Usability
  • Statistics
  • Output
  • Media and Files
  • Extras, and
  • Syntax Examples

Your goal is to choose a wiki that will help you to complete the project you are working on.  Once you have chosen a tool, then you need to decide on a project.

Wiki Project Ideas

Often it is helpful to search the websites to see what projects are already listed.  Just having the opportunity to study what others have done, will give you some ideas of what you may want to do with your class.

Following are examples from both Christian and Catholic Schools who have used a wiki with their students.

David Lipscomb Campus School in Nashville, Tennessee.  Here you will find various examples of what classrooms are working on with a wiki.  The mission of David Lipscomb Campus School is to serve students so that they may master knowledge and skills appropriate to them and become Christ-like in attitude and behavior.

As you explore the varied wiki projects, look for the wiki’s that are focused on the subject of religion –

  • Mr. Parham’s Senior Bible Case for Faith, and
  • Mr. Abood’s 7th grade Bible class

Checkout the FlatPlanet Project with two classes:

The aim of the project was to use the internet to work together and explore:

  • Current Environmental Issues
  • The way these issues are being dealt with in the respective countries
  • Exploration of any International Agreements on these issues
  • The Catholic Moral Responsibility for these issues

The article – 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative & Interactive Classroom will provide you with 50 different ideas.  No, they are not for a religion classroom.  However, as I read through the suggestions, mentally I was translating them to fit the needs of the religion classroom.  For example:

  • Virtual Field Trips.  Have your students research pilgrimage locations they would like to go on a pilgrimage (or field trip), and get them to share images and information about the location.  Or,
  • Classroom Scrapbook. Invite your students to share news about what they are involved in at their parish, include photos of their activities, and talk about their current achievements in their religion classroom on a wiki page.

Now that you have some ideas of what you might do with a wiki in your Religion class, plan for what you can do with this tool.  We look forward to hearing your story here in the comments section.  Remember, you can come back to this section and add your comments after you have completed a Wiki Project with your students.  Good luck!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

75th Anniversary of NCCL

Over the past few months I’ve been part of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL) Annual Conference & Expo Planning Committee.  What an exciting conference this will be as we are – Celebrating Our Past, Shaping the Future.  75 Years of Fidelity to the Word!

I did not plan to be part of this committee.  I just happened to meet Anthony Marchica, Committee Chair, at the last conference that was held in New Orleans.  When he heard how I was involved with shaping and forming an evolving ministry that is focusing on faith-based educational technology, Anthony extended the invitation to join the committee.  I agreed!

If you are not excited about this conference, you should be!  It is awesome considering that NCCL has been contributing to the gift of catechesis in this country over the past 75 years.  Begin to reflect on what has happened in the field of catechesis over this time period.  I invite you to share the stories that you have experienced in catechesis from 1936 until today.

What is of most importance is that we are all in the midst of a changing culture – often referred to as a Digital Culture.  Some of us are comfortable with what is happening around us, others are not!  Regardless, the culture around us is becoming more digital with each day.

Yes, we are in the midst of change!  In the next 10 years – how we catechize will change?  How? When I pull out my crystal ball I see the following – Many of us will be teaching courses online – with children and adults, Parents because of their busy lives will ask to have meetings via virtual tools like GoToMeeting, Students in their schools will be using eBooks in all of their subjects.  Religion will be racing to catch up!  More importantly, it is the changing mindset – that digital tools, digital projects, and more – will be important to our students and to catechetical ministers.  The school world is very comfortable with educational technology.  The catechetical world will need to study the Best Practices achieved over 35 years of growth and development in this educational technology field   .  What this means is that we will need to figure out how to blend the face-to-face (F2F) with the digital world that is emerging into our ministry.

As the NCCL Conference Committee stated in the 2011 Conference Brochure “Being ‘Tech savvy’ in today’s world requires a new skill set.”  When you come to this year’s conference, you will have an opportunity to learn new skills through the pre-conference session “Our Covenant Story: A How To and How Not To Form Digital Natives to be Digital Disciples.”  In addition, there are several conference Learning Sessions to enhance your “Tech savvy”:

  • Viral Marketing of Your Parish Programs
  • Digital Age Catechist Formation
  • Collaboration With New Media Tools
  • Social Media Communication – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube
  • Read, Aim, Shoot
  • The Symbolic Way Revisited

Check out the brochure on the NCCL website for additional information.

NCCL members, you may want to come one day early to attend Dr. Mary Hess’s Sunday morning presentation on learning media literacy skills through the creation of media.  For those who are interested in attending the NACMP Conference, which is held before the NCCL conference, more info at

I hope to see you in Atlanta for the 75th Anniversary of a wonderful catechetical organization.  It is time for us to celebrate all that we bring to this ministry!

In this time of celebration, I invite you to share a story or two – about how the evolution of technology has enhanced what you do in parish catechetics?  Think about it!  We’ve used various tools and technologies over the years- drawing in the sand, stained glass windows, crucifixes, statues, posters, photos, filmstrips, 16 mm film, videos, DVDs, and now YouTube videos, and more!  At this time of remembering, I invite you to share how you may have integrated the various mediums into your catechetical ministry.  Are you using a blog?  Are you creating digital stories? What have you been doing?  And what are you beginning to dream about doing with digital tools?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

NCCL 2011 Video Credits


Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

Elizabeth Thoman CHM – Healing Petals Photography


David J. Carr – 2010 Digital Trends – Ideas and Technologies



Winds of Change – Jap Jap (Animoto)

Pope: Church Needs Creativity to Reach Digital Age

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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