Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Digital native’

Becoming an Innovative Catechist in our Digital Culture

bit-ly-1l88XWV

A catechist in today’s learning environment – is challenged!  Why?  Their students are often engaged in some wonderful learning environments that utilize a variety of digital learning methods in their everyday schools.  Yet, when they come to the parish religion classroom, there are a number of challenges:

Experiences will differ.  Some parish programs have a wonderful relationship with their schools.  Technology like smart boards and WiFi are available to the parish program.  In some parish programs, there is a distance between the two programs, that is separated by a wall almost impossible to climb.  Most catechists in today’s digital world do not know or understand what is happening in the area of educational technology in our public schools. So, even if equipment is available they may not know how to use or there is an understanding that the equipment is only available to the school community.

Native student. Our students know and are comfortable with technology.  We often call them Digital Natives!  Instead of welcoming the digital tools (smartphones and tablets) that are in their pockets and school bags, we discourage them from using and/or ban them from bringing into the classroom.

Embrace the changing role of the catechist.  Are we paying attention to the changing role of the classroom teacher?  If yes, we will learn from and adapt what we learn from their everyday journey in the classroom.  The role of the teacher today is different!  They are no longer the sage on the stage but a mentor, coach, and more.  As a catechist, am I a spiritual guide who knows how to engage young people in evangelizing with digital tools? After all, digital culture is our youths “modus operandi.”

Empower yourself.  Take time to learn more about the digital world of our students.  Digital Discipleship Boot Camp is an option for you to consider.  It is an opportunity to not only learn about but to get hands on experience with the variety of tools that are available to you to use today in a learning environment.  Learning the digital world is a bit like learning a foreign language.  It takes time and practice to become fluent.  The more you use digital tools, the more natural it begins to feel.

A little learning can go a long way.  When you jump in with both feet, this changing learning environment can be overwhelming for a catechist.  So, what’s the secret to success? Go “inch by inch and eventually you can go yard by yard.” Instead of trying to do more than you can truly handle, find one or two things that will work for you and your students.  Later, you can expand your base of knowledge.

Every catechist is capable.  In working with adults in the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, when I see comments like –

  • I consider myself a novice at most communications technology. I’m willing and excited to learn whatever I can.
  • I would like to know how to keep up with all the new technology that seems to keep developing every day.

I am delighted, as it is possible to learn something about this ever evolving digital culture, language, and gain new skills.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  We are challenged today to be innovators in classroom methodology.     How we teach and share the faith will change.  We simply need to adapt to the world as it changes around us – best “inch by inch.”  Becoming a Digital Disciple is important today!

Learning Faith in a Digital Age

Have you ever stopped to think about what will be different in catechesis as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Yes  – reading materials will become more digital.  The recent NEWSWEEK announcement – that they will be ALL DIGITAL beginning January 14, 2013 – is just the tip of the iceberg.  As we ponder what this means for catechesis, lets use our imagination.  I encourage you to add to the conversation with your own insights and options.

newsweek-3

To begin, let’s get ready for the future.  You are the catechist and I will be a Digital Native.  So the Digital Native will use a laptop, tablet or smartphone and the catechist will use paper and pencil.  Let’s describe what can happen in this ever evolving world.  Are you ready?

  • I will immediately Google up-to-date information about my church – you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
  • I will immediately know when I have answered a digital quiz correctly – you have to wait until it’s graded.
  • I will use technology in every aspect of my everyday faith life – following the readings of the day, receiving the Pope’s tweets, following the Vatican YouTube Channel, NCR Online, America.org and more – you will wait a week or two to hear about what’s happening in a published church paper that is losing readership daily.
  • I will create digital posters with photos, images, text and videos – you will still be creating posters with crayons and ink or maybe with butcher paper with check points.
  • I will create prayers, articles and more in a digital format and share these with the world – you will only share yours with the class.
  • I will have 24/7 access to information about my faith through online articles, eBooks or websites like Sacred Space – your information is discovered primarily in books that you have to go to the book store to purchase or when you purchase online you wait for several days for the book to arrive.
  • I will access the most dynamic information with video, sound and more – yours will be printed and photocopied.
  • I will collaborate with my peers from around the world and learn from them what is important about their faith – you will collaborate only with your students in your classroom.
  • I can learn anything I want about my faith anytime and anywhere – you must wait until you read the textbook which may be outdated.
  • I will need to learn how to choose the best information about my Catholic faith tradition as anyone can publish anything at anytime whether it be correct teaching or not – you have had content that is always approved by our bishops via the “imprimatur” and “nihil obstat“.
  • I live in a time where we can learn the best and the worst about my Catholic faith from people of all ages via a variety of electronic means – you will primarily learn your faith from written materials that can be biased or unbiased – depending on the theological perspectives you are exposed to.
  • I will – with my class – interact with our Church leaders (Local Bishop, Parish Pastor, and others) via SKYPE, Facetime, GoToMeeting and other collaborative tools – you will call and make an appointment to meet these same leaders in a Face-to-Face meeting that is scheduled weeks in advance.

I often wonder how our methodology will change in the teaching of our faith to one another.  I see the importance of both face-to-face experiences and the integration of varied technologies in the teaching of our faith to others.  For now – we are Pioneers in a Digital Landscape that changes rapidly around us.

This is why it is important to gather with other pioneers – to learn from one another, to swap success stories (and even to talk about what did not work).  One of the best places to gather is at the annual Interactive Connections Conference that co-locates with the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC).  It is at IC 2013 that we can learn best practices from educators who have been involved in educational technology for over 35 years!

If you’re coming to Orlando – great!  Looking forward to meeting and sharing with you.  If not, I would encourage you to make room in your busy calendar and come.  We need all the pioneers possible to join in this wonderful and challenging endeavor of Sharing the Faith with our ever savvy digital students.

Note:  The list that describes what can happen in this ever evolving world is an adaptation of a list  that was anonymously shared by a student who posted on the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website during the spring of 2003.

Of course, if you like this post, click on the “Like” button.  If you have a comment, I look forward to your participation in the conversation – How do you see our methodology changing as we become more and more a Digital Culture?

Why INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS?

Do I need to attend the INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS conference?  Yes!  Why?  It is ONE of the few places where you can gather with other religious educators and focus on the integration of technology into your catechetical ministry.  When we attend other conferences we are immersed in our ministry world with a “dab” of technology in the program.

Come to IC 2012 and you will begin to understand what I mean.  You are immersed in the culture and language of educational and social media technology.  It’s like learning French, Spanish, Russian or any other language.  I can learn to speak a few words of French or any language for that matter.  However, to really speak a foreign language it is best to be immersed in the culture of the country where the language is spoken on a daily basis.

That’s right – to become a native – it is important to “immerse” yourself in the language and culture of the country.  It is the same today with “technology!”  If you are an immigrant, and most of us who are older than 30, are Digital Immigrants!  It takes time, patience, and immersing ourselves in this ever evolving Digital World.

Yes, on Monday evening and Tuesday, we are focused on issues of Pastoral Technology.  Check out the program.  INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS co-locates with the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  Why, for four simple reasons:

  1. Our faith students come from public schools where technology is an integral part of the daily curriculum.  We need to know and understand the educational technology culture that our faith students are exposed to on a daily basis.  If we do not integrate this culture into our learning experiences, we will appear outdated and antiquated to our Digital Natives in our teaching practices.
  2. To benefit by what we are exposed to in the Exhibit Hall.  Many of the exhibitors provide mini-workshops to highlight new products and services for educators.  I often spend a whole day in the Exhibit Hall.  New services, new ideas, and new connections are very important to stay on the cutting edge.
  3. I’m listing the workshops that I believe would be of interest to you as a catechetical minister from the FETC program.  It is very easy to listen to the educational presenter and then to bring the best ideas back to your parish or diocese.  For example, if I am a DRE and I’m trying to figure out how to form iCatechists, I may want to attend – CS1136 – Shaping the iTeacher, 10:00 am – 11:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2012, with Len Scrogan with John Adsit. Or if I’m curious about how iPads can be used in the classroom, I will attend –CS4441 – Getting Started with iPads, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012 with Cathy Hutchins.
  4. By networking with other catechetical ministers, we are creating and developing a group of faith-based educational technology and social media specialists who will be leaven in their parish and diocesan areas.  By networking we share ideas with one another in order to quickly learn what we must learn to be Digital Disciples!

So if you are ready to IMMERSE yourself into the language and culture of educational and social media technologies.  Come and join us in Orlando.  Here is what others have said about their experience of the conference:

  • Able to see how others in ministry are using technology successfully. Learned about new resources available and new ways to using existing tools Interacting with others, sharing challenges was helpful Reminder to me that the new digital continent is in its infancy and we are the ones who need to lead others in our parish on how to use these tools for evangelization and catechesis. Helped to overcome my fear of this unknown world… I need to just do it!
  • It made me even more excited about sharing/utilizing technology in my ministry. It also taught me so much that I can teach/share in the Syracuse diocese. I also feel that I am now involved in a growing network of support and learning which gives me confidence to “keep on growing” in the world of technology.
  • My head was spinning from all the wonderful ideas, insights and technology that was shared. As a diocesan and church employee, I came away from the conference with so many wonderful ways to not only enhance what I am currently doing, but also new ways to reach out and evangelize to those who find themselves outside the church community. I find myself looking for new ways to ‘go where they are,’ through technology. Thinking outside the box – thank you for letting me see that there never was a box in the first place.

To Register click here.  Use the PROMOTIONAL CODE – FAC25 – for a $25.00 Registration Discount.

Looking forward to meeting you in Orlando!

Thinking Creatively – A Lenten Challenge

Many of us over the Lenten season are deeply involved in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – the traditional manner of immersing ourselves in a season that calls for transformation and conversation.

Many of us are also “Digital Immigrants” in a world that is rapidly moving into electronic communication and global sharing.  Perhaps this is the season where we need to begin to imagine what it takes to transform our personal mindsets that keep us in the “Digital Immigrant” Zone into mindsets that allow us to become “Digital Natives” in ways we have never imagined.

Perhaps this is the season to challenge ourselves to transform the mindsets that we bring to the Digital Table.  How do we do that?  By prayerfully considering how we could use the digital tools that surround us to bring the faith alive with our Digital Natives.

So instead of turning to the “tried and true” materials we have used for generations – the textbook, the diocesan newsletters we receive, and other materials – that are electronic, but really they are just traditional materials that are now in a NEW format – an electronic format!

Instead, especially if we are really comfortable with the content of our faith, I invite you to play with tools that focus on photo sharing or online videos and to use your imagination.  That is, as you become familiar with the tool and/or the service, begin to ask yourself some questions:

  1. What possibility do I see here for using in my classroom (or group) for faith development?
  2. If I search using the term “Lent” what will I find?
  3. Once I find something interesting and maybe even exciting?  How can I weave it into my class?
  4. How could I share this video? this photo? with those in my class or group?
  5. What can I do with Twitter?
  6. What can I do with Facebook?
  7. What can I do with any of the tools that I become familiar with to share the faith?

So, what can you do?  Well, Let’s begin to look at Online Photosharing.  If you’re not sure what this is, take a moment to watch the Online Photosharing in Plain English video:

Yes, there are several options for photo sharing.  Which one you will use, is your decision.  Adam Pash on his blog, shares what he feels are the 5 Best Photo sharing websites. Check out what he says about each.

One of my favorites is Flickr!  I was playing with this website today – just asking myself —

  • What happens when?

In this case I just did a search using the word “Jerusalem”!  Wow all these photo’s that come directly from the Holy City of Jerusalem, created by folks like you and me.

Jerusalem Photos

Flickr Jerusalem Photos

My next question – What can I do with these beautiful photo’s?

Slideshow

Click on Slideshow link

As I looked at my screen, in the upper right hand corner I saw the words “Slideshow” and I wondered “What happens when I click on slideshow?”  To my wonderful surprise, without copying, downloading, or whatever – there was this wonderful slideshow of beautiful images about Jerusalem.

Then I continued to use my imagination and wondered – How could I use this slideshow with students or with others?  Here’s what I imagined:

  • I could tweet the link – http://www.flickr.com/search/show/?q=Jerusalem to my students or in the bit.ly format – http://bit.ly/gsF0ET With a phrase like “Come Visit Jerusalem in Lent – http://bit.ly/gsF0ET or “Where is Jesus in Jerusalem? – http://bit.ly/gsF0ET ” Then when we met in our classroom, I could ask how their visit to Jerusalem went?  What did they see?  What questions did they have? What questions would you use?
  • I could teach the students about Creative Commons Copyright and then invite them to create a 30-second video about Jerusalem using photo’s that they have found on Flickr.  Animoto is a wonderful website for this type of activity.
  • Sponsor a Church Scavenger Hunt.  Give your students a list of items they are to locate in your parish church or your diocesan cathedral.  Invite them to photograph these items.  Then they could create a PowerPoint using these items and offer explanations of what they have photographed.  The PowerPoints can be shared in class or added to your class website or who knows where your imagination will lead you.
  • And ….

Our imaginations are limitless!  I would encourage you, if you are not already using a photo sharing website, to choose one of these tools.  Then to begin to imagine how you can creatively use this tool for faith-sharing.

My imagination runs wild, when I begin to use it.  What about yours?  Of course, what’s most important in becoming a Digital Native, is that you WANT to share your wonderful idea with others.  We can all learn from one another!

What is your imagination creating?  Hope you take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas here at a CyberPilgrim blog! I’d love to hear from you!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

I live in Florida!

Yes, I live in Florida!  So, when you’re freezing in the North I am walking outdoors in jeans and a sweatshirt in sunshine! But that is not why Florida is important at this time.

On Thursday, February 17, 2011 I was reading the St. Petersburg Times.  Right on the front page was the article – Florida looks at taking school textbooks completely digital by 2015.

Florida Texts

Florida Looking To eBooks!

As I read through the article, here are the points that became significant for me:

  • There’s a move to go all-digital in Florida classrooms.
  • State education officials rolled out a five-year proposal this week that calls for all students in K-12 to use only “electronic materials” delivered by Kindles, iPads and other similar technology by 2015.
  • “This project reinvents the way students learn and will revolutionize instruction in Florida,” says the plan presented to the state Board of Education Tuesday.
  • “Digital is here. We can choose to ignore it, or we can choose to embrace it,” said David Simmons, chairman of the Senate Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.
  • …in the proposal, all Florida districts would begin phasing in digital-only content, first for high school students and then for all others in reading, math, science, history and language arts.
  • “It is not something you do without planning.”

I’ve been reflecting on this article for several days.  Here are some of the thoughts and questions that are flowing through my mind:

  • What will happen to our parish religious education students when they participate in parish programs and are asked to purchase a traditional style textbook when many of their other texts are available to them via iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and any other electronic reading tool?  Will they begin to think that their faith is antiquated?
  • Where are our religion publishers?  Are they moving into pilot programs with Catholic Schools to explore what will work with today’s Digital Natives?
  • Where are our parishes?  Are they beginning to explore what it will take to engage all involved in catechetical ministry with the e-tools that are moving into our students lives at all levels, put perhaps not in the religious arena?
  • Where are our catechetical leaders (at all levels), are we learning all that we are able so that we can communicate our faith to our Digital Natives with the tools that are at their fingertips?
  • Are we beginning to consider, how tools that are purchased for students with federal funds might be used in the parish arena? Do we need to advocate for this use?
  • Do we know how to budget and plan for these tools at the parish level?
  • Do we train our catechetical personnel how to use e-tools in the overall faith learning process?
  • Is it time to begin looking at the parish being the broker for Technology Planning and Training, where the School, Religious Education, Youth Ministry, Young Adult, RCIA, Sacramental, and any other parish ministries are part of the planning and development of a Parish Technology Plan?
  • Is it time for each Diocese to become a major leader of technology throughout the Diocese at all levels – Administrative Tools, Learning Tools, Online Learning Resources, Educational Technology, and more so that all parishes will  become 21st Century Parishes at the levels that are needed in today’s ever expanding technology environment?

Are these questions of value to us as catechetical leaders?  Or, are there other questions to ask?  I’m wondering how you feel about the issue of catechetical eBooks?  I invite you to contribute to the online conversation with your questions or comments.

Next Week:  What About These Google Tools?  What creative ideas do we have for using in Catechetical Ministry?

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Tag Cloud