Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Google’

This LENT: Develop Your Digital Mind

digitalminds-2

So, we’re in the middle of Lent.  A few weeks ago we were resolving to take care of _____, give up_____, or donate to _____ during this Lenten season.  These actions are all well and good.  But who amongst us even thought about developing our Digital Minds?

Here we are in the 21st century, where technology surrounds us!  For many years, most of us in ministry have kept technology at an arms length from our ministry.  Over time, we made wise decisions and a computer was purchased for our office.  We may even have purchased a laptop so that we have the flexibility to take our work home.  Overall we have gotten comfortable with word processing, email, spreadsheets, and presentation tools. Some of us are very  proficient with these tools, and others may still need to learn how to leverage these tools in order to be effective and efficient.

However, when I speak of a Digital Mind, I am calling attention to a mind that is engaged in the Digital culture, knows how to speak the ever evolving digital language, and has skills that go beyond the basics of being able to use a computer for email, word processing, presentations, and tracking our program finances.

digitalminds-3

This Digital Mind is very comfortable with technology, creatively engaging in using the digital tools for research, online learning, social interaction with others, and more.  This type of person is engaged in exploring how the desktop,  laptop, and now tablets and mobile phones can be an integral part of our ministry lives.

I invite each of you to engage in this conversation with me.  I want to distinguish between the characteristics of a Digital Mind and a Non-Digital Mind.  I am suggesting a list of seven (7) characteristics.  If there are other characteristics that you are aware of, I invite you to participate in this conversation by adding your comment to this blog post.

I would say that you have a Digital Mind, if the following characteristics are evident in your daily ministry:

  1. In a casual conversation with friends, family, or parishioners a question arises that  you are unable to answer, instead of saying that you will get back to them later, you pull out your smart phone or tablet and Google the question. You have an answer within a minute.
  2. Your TO DO list, is on your phone.  In fact, short notes that are your grocery list, and other important things you need to remember are added to your electronic note pad of your mobile tool.
  3. 10 to 15 minutes of your day is spent on FaceBook, casually looking over posts on your parish FB page, or viewing posts from your family, friends, and members of your parish.
  4. In addition, you take 5 or 10 minutes to post a faith-thought on your FB page, or a simple response – click the LIKE button, or comment to other posts. When someone posts on the parish page, that a member of your parish is in the hospital, you are one of the first to offer prayers.  On Sunday, when you see this person in Church, you can engage in a conversation where you are aware that this person has just returned home after a hospital stay.
  5. Instead of killing trees because of the paper you use to distribute a weekly newsletter to your parents, you are comfortable in creating a blog using WordPress or Edublog or any other blog tool for this newsletter.
  6. Your familiarity with Web 2.0 tools has provided you with helpful new ideas to present to your catechists.  You follow Catechesis 2.0 to learn from pastoral technology leaders what tools are available, and how you may use them!  Now many of the student activities are available online, so that others can see the projects and your students are learning how to be a Digital Disciple.  Parents and others can comment and affirm the classwork.
  7. You have a team in the parish who assists you with recording (audio and/or video) your parent sessions, catechist meetings, or other activities so that a podcast or video is available for those who were unable to attend this meeting.

and, where have you exhibited any other characteristic of a Digital mind? If you are not developing your Digital Mind, then you are:

  1. Running to your office library to find the resource you may need to answer the question.  If it is not in your office library, then you are off and running to a library, calling a friend, or just hoping that you find the right resource with the answer.
  2. Many of your notes are on a variety of sizes of paper or notebook.  When you need the note, it is lost, or you’re unable to find your spiral bound tablet, or unable to decipher what you wrote.
  3. You do not believe that FaceBook is a viable way for communicating with your family, friends, or parish community. You avoid it like “the plague.”
  4. Your weekly newsletter:  Of course you use a publishing program to create this wonderful newsletter, email it to your printer, wait a day or two for the UPS package to reach you, distribute to your children, and hope that each child remembers to give it to their parents.
  5. You go to your favorite publisher website, print off a  worksheet, go to the copy machine to make the number of copies that you will need for your students, and distribute to them.  You collect the sheets, and several students have not completed the activity and a few have not returned their worksheet and now you take a few moments to review their work and write comments on their work.  One student “doodled” a cartoon on their worksheet. Next class you return the worksheet and have a conversation with your budding artist!
  6. For those who were unable to attend the parish meetings.  You email each family with a special message about the event, and invite them to meet with you for a special session.  This time, you have 20 families unable to attend the Family First Communion meeting.  As you listen to their stories, you learn that these students are involved in sports and Girl Scouts. Have you thought of doing a webinar with them?

So even in the middle of this Lenten season, it is appropriate to ask – How am I developing my Digital Mind.  Or, do I even want to develop my Digital Mind?

I trust that you see developing your Digital Mind as a wholesome activity, that once developed will provide you with a means to be a Digital Disciple in this ever evolving 21st Century where the New Evangelization is calling us to communicate in new ways, with new tools!

May your stories of HOW you are developing your Digital Mind, be an inspiration for each of us.

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.

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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?

Communicating With New Media Tools

Recently I was reading ” Leadership communication tools” by Nancy Caramanico.  I liked how she highlighted various tools for school educators.  Allow me to mirror her article and focus on Parish Catechetical Leader (PCL’s) Communication Tools.

I totally agree with Nancy when she says, “Communicating in today’s world requires both a new mindset and a new toolset. Like a maestro conducting a symphony, savvy leaders pay attention to the sound, the effect, and the instruments needed to strike just the right notes. ”

I would go further to advocate that as you move into this digital communications world, you will need to learn new skills, a new language and digital culture to be an effective church communicator.

As I look back at my beginnings, which go back to 1983, I realize that I have slowly learned new terminology, new skills, and have gradually immersed myself in a digital culture.  I encourage any pastoral  and catechetical leader today to take the needed steps so that you speak the language, engage in the culture, and learn the skills that you need to communicate effectively with your audiences.

So what do you need to be able to engage in today to communicate with others?

10 Tools for Pastoral Communication (Paraphrasing  Nancy’s 10 Tools):

  • Microblogging – Create an account on Twitter. Follow other catechetical and pastoral leaders.  Check out Brad West’s article Go Tweet It On The Mountain Top .Tweet out information about your parish.  Explore use of twitter for conferences or meetings for sharing ideas.
  • Blogging – Write frequent news updates for your parish blog. Follow other Catholics – see the Catholic Blog Directory. Who are the catechetical bloggers? Encourage and read comments. Use Google Blogger, Edublogs or create your own.
  • Podcasting – Create audio messages for playback on web and devices. Use tools such as Audioboo, Audacity
  • Electronic Surveys – Use Zoomerang or Survey Monkey for advanced functionality. Make quality surveys with Google Forms which is free
  • Email – Yes email. It is still a common tools used by many. Regular timely updates seek responses and give responses in a timely fashion. HTML newsletters can be pre-formatted with a consistent design to add appealing design.
  • Learning Management System – This may be the tool that will be a staple to our doing online learning with our students and adults in the near future.  Take time to learn more about Learning Management Systems.
  • Parish or Faith Formation Website – Consistently post updates that are both engaging and informational.  Ask yourself – what content are we sharing with our members online?
  • Facebook – Use Facebook to update parish community on latest faith formation news, photos and videos
  • Video – Use Youtube or other video sharing sites. Broadcast videos about parish events
  • Google alerts – Set up Google Alerts to stay on top of mentions of your parish and other topics of interests to the parish or faith formation community.

If you like this article, click on the “Like” button.  We would love to hear about your experience of using these leadership tools?  Come and Share!

Stations of the Cross – Multimedia for Lent

Loyola Press has prepared a wonderful multimedia stations of the cross* for children.  There is a PDF document that you can download and/or print out.  In addition, there is a wonderful multimedia meditation with music and images that could be shared with your families or used in your classroom with your students.

Let’s just brainstorm quickly how you could use this multimedia presentation:

  1. Email the families of the children in your program or class. Encourage parents to share the stations prayer with their children.   Include a short invitation to your parish Stations of the Cross that will be held at your parish during Lent. Remember to include the link of this meditation in your email message.  Link:  http://www.loyolapress.com/multimedia-stations-of-the-cross-for-children.htm
  2. Open or close your class (or meeting) with the online meditation.  If you do not have access to the Internet, you can download a copy of the PDF file to your computer showing the meditation on your computer screen and/or projecting the image on a screen using a LCD projector.  Invite different students to say the prayer for each station.  You may want to have a CD Player with an appropriate choice of music in the background.
  3. If you do not have a way to show the multimedia presentation, print the meditation out and go over to your church.  You can distribute a copy of the prayer for each of the stations to the students and as you proceed from station to station, the student can read the prayer for the group.

To engage the students in being very involved in creating their stations of the cross, once you have a printed copy of the meditation distribute the sections of the meditation to small groups and/or individual students.  Invite them to create their own images for the station using any variety of media – pens, markers, crayons, etc.  Invite them to bring their drawings to class.  Collect the images and ask a high school student to scan the images for you.  Once they are in a Digital format, work with your webmaster to add the stations that have been created by your students to the parish website.

If students have access to a computer either in the classroom or at home, direct them to a shared folder using Google Docs – Presentation.  If you need information about this Google option, go to (GDocs Presentation ) or Google Docs Tutorial.  If you are interested in embedding this presentation into your blog, go to Embedding Google Docs in Your Blog Posts ) .

Of course there are other tools that you can use to create an image of the Station that you have been assigned.  For those using mobile tools (especially the iPad), you may want to encourage your families to work on creating their own Stations of the Cross with their children.  For the types of tools to recommend to your families, go to – Top 10 Apps for Digital Storytelling.  Often these tools will allow you to share links of completed projects with others.  You can ask your families to email to you the links of their meditations.  These links can then be included on your websites and/or blogs.

If you are looking for other Stations of the Cross Meditations, either for your classroom or to suggest to your families, you may want to explore:

Children’s Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross Carousel

Stations of the Cross for Teens

You Tube Videos – Stations of the Cross – A puppet version of the Stations of the Cross. The puppet show is created by Jesuit Brother Edward Sheehy.

Would love to hear your stories and ideas of how you are using online videos and involving your students this Lent using electronic tools.

If you like this article, click the “Like” button or add your comment to this blog.  Or, forward to others who are interested in Stations of the Cross with their children.

* The stations images are from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Inc., Hanceville, Alabama as shown in the Loyola Press website article “Multimedia Stations of the Cross for Children”?

(c)2012,  Caroline Cerveny

More about “Google+”

I was amazed to find several presentations about Google+ on Slideshare!  Even without sound, they offer more information about – what is Google+? how does it compare with Facebook? and more.  If you are interested in learning more about Google+, check out the following presentations.

Outside of SlideShare, here is additional information:

The Google+ Cheat Sheet

5 Ways Journalists Are Using Google+

Google+ Grows Quickly: This Week In Social Media

25 Google+ Resources

I’m signed up, and what I already like about Google+, now I have my Gmail, Google Docs, and more all in ONE easy access place. I love this feature!

Recently, Mike Elgan shared this post:

Here’s what I love about Google+ in general and the Google+ Diet in particular:

Instead of saying, “I’m going to write a blog post now,” or “I’m going to send an e-mail” or “I think I’ll tweet something” you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.

If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.

If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.

If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I’d say this is pretty revolutionary

Yes – I would agree, Revolutionary!

If you are exploring Google Plus, come share your reflections with us!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Have You Heard of Google+ ?

Will G+ be a better option than FB? Who knows right now!

If you’ve noticed news about Google+, it is just around the corner from being launched!  What is Google+? A means for social networking with your friends and colleagues!  Is it different from Facebook?  Of course!  So, it is probably worth checking out.

Rich Jennings, ComputerWorld blogger, is able to send you invites to join the Plus Project Circle.  Check out his article ” Get a Google+ invite here: join Plus project circle.”

Brad West, a nearby blogger who lives in Palm Coast, FL, recently caught my eye with his published eBook titled “The Connected Church” which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).  I’ve been following his blog since I read his book.  His July 15, 2011 post “What is Google+ And Can It Benefit Catholic Parishes”  offers ways a Catholic parish could use this tool.

To learn more about this NEW tool, check out these Google+ videos:

Of course, if you like this article, click the “Like” button, share this post with a friend, or add a comment to engage in the conversation.  Questions are welcomed!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Google Tools Knowledge

Google Earth

Entry to Google Earth

When you’re looking for FREE tools, Google provides several options.  Take a moment to learn about the 57 Useful Google Tools You’ve Never Heard Of! Yes, Google has broadened its Internet horizon.  It is not just a search engine!

Google Tools can be an important part of every catechist’s tool kit. All you need is a computer with Internet access in your parish, school, or home.  Often we would like to have our students go beyond what they have learned in the classroom. Or maybe we would like to ENHANCE a class session with technology.

Together, let’s begin a conversation of how we might use or how we have used a Google Tool in catechesis.  This week let’s look at two Google Tools – Reader and Google Earth!

1.      Reader : Use what you learned about RSS Feeds! With RCIA candidates who want to learn more about their faith, demonstrate how they can ADD a subscription for a topic like “Catholic”.  Show them a “Add A Subscription” feature.  Go through the list and talk about how to locate and find “Quality” Catholic blogs.  You may find the USCCB statement, Your Family and Cyberspace helpful to refer to.  This document is a reminder of how we need to carefully choose Catholic content that is web published.

2.      Google Earth : Start with a visit to Google Earth for Educators.  When you are ready, click on the Download link.  To learn more about using Google Earth, go to Build Google Earth Skills.  There is a self-paced tutorial that will provide a great overview of what you are able to do with the Google Earth Tool.  Now let’s think of how to apply this tool while we are teaching our religion classes.

Google Earth for Educators

Let’s consider how we could use this tool during Lent when a pilgrimage to the Holy Land would be most desired.  After you have downloaded the Google Earth app to your computer, load Google Earth on your computer.

a)     In your layers section of Google earth, click on the following (Roads, 3-D Buildings, Ocean, and Gallery):

Google Earth Layers
Layers section of Google Earth

b) In the Search “Fly To” Field type “Jerusalem”

Search for Jerusalem

The "Search" Fly to area

c) Once you have arrived in Jerusalem, Israel hover your mouse over the “Google Earth Community logo ( i ) to locate the “Jerusalem Pool of Siloam (Traditional ) Location.  A window with a photo, links, and a brief explanation will be shown.

Jerusalem
Going to the Pool of Siloam (Traditional)

Pool of Siloam (Traditional)

Visiting the Pool of Siloam

d) Then click on the “Category – Footsteps of Jesus” .  You will be taken to the Footsteps of Jesus website.

Footsteps of Jesus Website

The Footsteps of Jesus web page

d) Once you are here, you can click on the locations.  A photo and brief description will show on your screen.

Jerusalem Visiting Bethany
Visiting Bethany

So now you have a virtual trip to the Holy Land.  Of course, you could just go the Sacred Destinations website.  However, by integrating Google Earth into the lesson, we can get the feeling of what it is like to go from your home city to the city of Jerusalem in Israel.

I would love to hear from my readers how you have been using any of the Google tools in your catechetical ministries.  They are FREE.  Only requiring access to a computer or a smart phone with internet access.  (Yes Google Earth is an iPhone App).

I am looking forward to hearing from you!  We are the pioneers leading the way for others.  It is our sharing with one another that will help each one of us learn new ways to integrate technology into our catechetical ministries.

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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