Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘21st Century’

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.

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  • Check your email

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

Digital Discipleship: Twitter, Instagram, and … (Part III)

twitter-instagram

We live in the midst of an evolving Digital Culture with its own language and skills.  It’s almost like going to a foreign land where we may often feel like a “stranger.”  So, when others begin to say that they are using Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Canva we look back at them with a blank look.  Often we do not know what these tools are nor do we know how to use them.

Today, learning how to use any of these tools has become very simple.  Your 18-year-old (or younger) grandchild, nephew, niece or neighbor use these tools on a regular basis.  And if they don’t, go to Google and/or YouTube and search for – “Name of Tool” Tutorial – for example: Twitter Tutorial, or Instagram Tutorial, etc. Normally, in a matter of 10 minutes you will be able to find and view one video that will introduce the tool to you.

Then if you wonder how other Catholics are using these tools, Go to GOOGLE and search for phrases like “Catholic Twitter,” “Catholic Pinterest,” or “Catholic Instagram”.  Just go and explore to see what other Catholics are creating with their accounts.

Then stop for a moment and ask yourself, what do you want to do with your <Name of Account> so that you are becoming an everyday Digital Disciple? Once you have your goal figured out!  Go and “Tweet” or “share life with pictures” to share the gift of you and of your faith with others.  (Remember the 70/30 Rule!)  You are not out to bombard others with religious messages.  Your goal is to share who you are with others in a wholesome way that also exhibits that you are able to share your faith with others using digital tools.  And that means that you are developing your skills to be a Digital Disciple.

Here are some examples of some of the Catholics (individuals or groups) that I follow.

Twitter

Pope Francis – https://twitter.com/Pontifex or @Pontifex

Father Dave Dwyer, CSP – https://twitter.com/FatherDaveDwyer or @FatherDaveDwyer

Becky Eldridge – https://twitter.com/beldredge98 or @beldredge98

Cara Stolarczyk – https://twitter.com/CaraStolarczyk or @CaraStolarczyk

Instagram

James Martin, SJ – https://www.instagram.com/jamesmartinsj/

Jeff Young (Catholic Foodie) – https://www.instagram.com/catholicfoodie/

Catholic Teen Posts – https://www.instagram.com/catholic_teen_posts/?modal=true

LifeTeen – https://www.instagram.com/lifeteen/

Vatican – https://www.instagram.com/vaticansite/?hl=en

Each of these accounts represent a unique style of being a Digital Disciple.  At the personal level, these folks are happy and alive Catholics who share who they are with their friends and family – each with their own style.

Now I invite you to choose one of these accounts (if you haven’t already) and in your simple and unique ways connect with others.  If you are not sure how to find your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn audiences, this blog post Finding Your Audience on Social Media  will guide you.

Before you know it, you will be sharing the delightful YOU with others.  More importantly, because you believe and have a friendship with Jesus, this will be noticed by those who friend, follow, or connect with you using any of these digital tools. The following graphic is from my Facebook account.  As I read the comments “Thank you Caroline, I’m needing your words of wisdom.” “This is just what I needed this morning.” And “Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  You always make a difference.”

I feel blessed to be able to share my hopes, dreams, and beliefs with my digital friends.  It does make a difference!

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Digital Discipleship: It matters for Everyone (Part I)

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Sherry Weddell in Forming Intentional Disciples says, “We must be convinced that all the baptized – unless they die early or are incapable of making such a decision – will eventually be called to make a personal choice to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church.” (pg. 70)

In addition, Sherry highlights for us the stages of Intentional Discipleship: Trust, Curiosity, Openness, Seeking, and Intentional Discipleship. We will explore later how these are also steps to Digital Discipleship.

The wonderful background materials related to Evangelization and Discipleship offer us helpful suggestions for evangelization and discipleship today.  In general, most of these materials do not highlight how being a Digital Disciple stands as an essential element at the heart of ministry. The goal of the Digital Discipleship Series is to encourage us in digital discipleship and evangelization efforts.  We no longer have an either/or option.  We are now called to integrate the apostolic opportunity of the digital world, so that we may use it effectively in our everyday efforts to incarnate the Gospel message.

Most of us are Disciples!  Yet, when we are asked if we do anything with technology, normally we frown and raise our eyebrows when the question is asked.  After all – Discipleship is about being “real” with others.  Sharing our faith with them.  Of course, in the minds of many – this means in a face-to-face opportunity. Today digital tools/options expand a deeper challenge and opportunity for us to share our faith with others via digital tools.

Yet in today’s Digital World, where we now have access to a variety of digital communication tools, it is time to use these tools to be Digital Disciples in order to evangelize our family and friends and our church.

When I first saw Sherry Weddell’s stages of Intentional Discipleship, I immediately saw the connection between the steps of Digital Discipleship:

Trust – Trust that we can enhance the sharing of our faith with others in digital ways.

Curiosity – Numerous digital tools are familiar to us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more.  Our curiosity and even our digital anxiety must lead us to explore how we can use these tools to communicate both the power/love of our faith and also our love for Jesus to others.

Openness – Our personal capacity to entertain different and often non-customary digital ideas offer amazing apostolic opportunities.

Seeking – As seekers we continue to search with Jesus new ways to be a disciple in a 21st Century Digital World.

Intentional Digital Discipleship – Our passion to share our faith becomes a both/and experience.  We relish being able to spend face-to-face time with others.  While at the same time I/We can use digital means like Facebook, Twitter, and more to enhance our faith and love of Jesus to others.

As we engage in Digital Discipleship, I reflect on a comment that Archbishop Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications made in 2014 during an interview with Columbia Editor Alton J. Pelowski:

In other words, the challenge for the Church today is not to use the Internet to evangelize, but to evangelize from within this digital milieu.

The mission of the Church is always the same: We are invited to announce the Gospel to the men and women of today. This is our point of reference. In being present in such a context, we are not simply “bombing” the social networks with religious messages. No, what we have to do is give witness – personal witness. Pope Francis said very clearly to the young people in Assisi last year (citing St. Francis): “Always preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words!”

How to Make & Share a Scripture Story Video on Facebook

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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!

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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!

 

So You’re Going to Be a 21st Century Catechist!

You’ve caught on and realize that the students in your classroom are Digital Natives with a smartphone or tablet in their pocket or backpack.  In addition to figuring out the best web applications or apps to use with them, here are some points to consider before you plan your lesson:

  1. Read your Diocesan AUP or RUP document. The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) or sometimes called Responsible Use Policy (RUP) usually outlines the way the Internet can be used with students.  Helpful procedures and sometimes suggestions are included.  If you are unable to locate this document on your diocesan website, ask your parish leader or diocesan office for a copy.
  2. Review the “Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy” of the tool or the website. These are the rules which one must agree to abide by in order to use a service.  Or, it can simply be a disclaimer when using a website.  What does the catechist want to be aware of? What information a site may collect about the user, age limitations, or is parental permission required. If you do not understand the terminology, check with your administrator.  It is helpful to let your administrators know what websites/tools you will be using with your students.
  3. WiFi is needed for BYOD. How your WiFi is set-up needs a professional who understands what is involved in the overall set-up in your parish as well as the school. To get on the BYOD boat, involve these professionals so that they become part of the secure-BYOD solution at your parish.  There are alternatives.  It is important to have secure BYOD.  Meet your parishioner/student mobile pastoral needs.  Help them to move forward to a better place.  Bring solutions to your pastor.
  4. Highlight the importance of Digital Footprints. The Cybersmart blog says “One of the great things about being online is the ability to share videos and photos with your friends and seeing their response.  Everything you post online combines to make your digital footprint. Remind students that what they create online contributes to their digital footprint. Guide students so that they are not compromising personal information.
  5. Involve your parish director, pastor, or diocesan office on web usage. Remember anybody today can create a beautiful website that appears to be a good Catholic website.  Make sure you seek out those who can guide you in choosing websites that represent the best in Catholic theology for the age level you are involved with. If your diocese or parish is lacking in this area, start the conversation.   If you are unsure about using something, ask your parish director, pastor, or diocesan leader.  There may be digital libraries available to you of vetted online material. If not, then…
  6. Completely vet the website or app before using. If the website or app has not been vetted, check with your parish or diocesan administrators for approval.  There may be a vetting form or process. Before you use this digital material, take time to review it and become acquainted with the content.  Just like previewing a video, you want to make sure that the site or app has good faith content and is age appropriate.
  7. Involve parents in the process. Parents normally provide their children with the devices they may bring into your classroom. It is helpful to let them know what digital activities their child will be using in your classroom. In the registration process, it is important to highlight your AUP (or RUP) and Privacy Policies. Remember that some web sites may need parental permission for their child to use the website. This is a good time to get the “Parental” permission you need for the class year. This is also a way to engage your parents to become partners and supporters of their child becoming a digital disciple.
  8. Incorporate good Digital Citizenship at all levels. Why is Digital Citizenship important? Even for Youngest Kids is an article that reminds us that our students are communicating in a 21st Century world. How we act and communicate today is very important in our being digital disciples.  There are helpful points to be aware of in the article so that you can help students communicate and collaborate safely and responsibly.
  9. Determine why the website and/or app is being incorporated into the learning experience. Remember that technology is not a “baby sitter” or to be used “to fill up class time.” As a catechist involved in crafting a well-designed lesson, we need to realize that our students come to our learning sessions with 21st Century Learning Skills.  How we adapt technology in our classes can be learned from those who are already engaged in technology integration.  You may find this article – Why Do We Need Technology Integration?  helpful!
  10. Become familiar with CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA. These are important rules and regulations that guide the education community. They are also important to the pastoral parish community. Click on the links and/or search the Internet to learn more about each of these topics so that you can learn why these areas are important for you and your students.

Technology provides multiple opportunities to provide learning experiences that are engaging, productive, and allows the student to learn.  Using a website or app provides you a way to engage your student in 21st learning experiences.  As you reflect on the ten ideas provided, you may have other ideas and comments to share.  Please feel free to share these via email, or comment, as I am always learning.  I trust that this blog post offers you a good starting place as you create exciting learning opportunities that integrates technology into your classroom.

Forming Catechists for the 21st Century

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Once upon a time I was a Diocesan Director of Catechetics!  One of our major tasks in the diocese was the training and formation of our catechists.  After working at the Diocesan or Archdiocesan Level for over 20 years, I would affirm that all diocesan leaders offer outstanding faith formation training!

However, as we continue to march into the 21st Century the element that is missing is related to faith-based educational technology.  Why do I say that? Because I am an educational technology specialist and I’ve observed what is happening at the educational level for elementary, middle, high school, and college since 1983!

All one needs to do is to attend a national or local educational technology conference, and almost immediately you learn that you are stepping into a digital culture, language, with needed skills you do not have.  Often the ministry visitor to a national educational technology conference feels like a foreigner in a foreign land!

So what do we do?  Here are a few suggestions:

Let’s develop National Faith-based Educational Technology Standards.  Why? Over the last 30+ years, the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) –   have driven what is happening in the educational area from kinder through university. I suggest that we model our standards on the NETS standards.  This way when students attending public educational institutions step into our learning environments, we will understand and know how to use technology for evangelization and digital discipleship. We need to learn from those who have blazed this wonderful trail before us.  It is a common vision, which currently is needed in the ministry world!

The New Media and New Evangelization.  As I read Archbishop José H.   Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, presentation to the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders in Houston, Texas he clearly states – I want to talk with you today about the new culture of communication and its implications for the Church’s mission of evangelization.  I am delighted with his approach and comments.  He clearly invites us to – …the goal of our mission to the digital continent is the same of our mission in every age and every place — to bring people to the beauty of encountering Christ, to the beauty of living in authentic relationship with him and our brothers and sisters in the Church, which is the family of God. However, to get to this point takes collaboration between those engaged in the ICT Triangle.

ICT Collaboration.  There are many ways to use technology in ministry.  Information Technology specialists are engaged in utilizing administrative and financial technologies at the diocesan and parish levels. Communication Specialists are engaged in a great deal of our public relations work that today also involves the integration of social media into our communication needs.  The educational technology specialist can serve at a number of levels, depending on their professional background.  When you Google – who is an educational technology specialist – you discover the following:

  • Aninstructional technology specialist facilitates technology use at schools and universities through a variety of interactive methods. Do we also need these specialists at the parish and with other ministries?
  • They assist faculty and staff with new classroom technology by developing tutorials, workshops and training sessions on new hardware and software, audio, video and graphics instruments. Yes, there is all sorts of available training, but is it tailored to our ministry world?
  • With an Education Specialist (EdS) degree in Educational Technology, you can initiate change in your classroom, at your school, or in your district. In our case you will be a leader in 21st Century faith formation experiences. Change is needed in the methodology of teaching the faith to our children, families, youth, and adults. Are we ready to adapt to the methodology that is already exciting our students in other subject areas? If not, let’s get degrees in this area to be the experts we need to be!

When I worked at the university level, I was in heaven (well almost heaven!) as the ICT Triangle was very operative here with three departments working collaboratively together – Information Technology, Communications, and Academic Technology.

So far in our church I see the following:

  • Diocesan Information Systems Conference – The Annual DISC Conference is the premier showcase for the use of information technology within the Catholic Church at both local and national levels. Members represent their Diocesan Information Systems Departments.
  • USCCB Communications Committee – The committee seeks to support the work of evangelization and faith formation through a comprehensive approach to media that includes media relations, media production and programming, policy, review of entertainment media, publishing, distribution, and licensing with sensitivity towards culturally diverse communities. I would venture to say that all diocesan offices have a Communications Department.
  • However, in the area of Educational Technology I do not see a concerted effort to hire these types of specialists at the diocesan level. Here in the State of Florida, only ONE diocese has an educational technology specialist at the diocesan level and she primarily serves the Catholic School Community.  In addition, there is no national group to represent educational technology specialists – except for the emerging Digital Disciple Network.

So, let’s find the folks who are interested in being or becoming educational technology specialists who are willing to collaborate and share with one another.  They are the folks who will be part of the training network that we need.

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