Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Learning’

What is a Blog Tour?

Have you ever heard of a blog tour?  I haven’t!  Not until I received an email from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, with this invite –  “You (ACyberPilgrim)  are cordially invited to participate in a blog tour on the subject of religion and media, featuring Dr. Mary E. Hess, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.”

Mary is a wonderful friend, so I was delighted to be included in this blog tour.  Here is a wonderful opportunity to learn something new about using a blog to carry on a conversation with others in a virtual environment.

How does this work? 

I’ve been invited to submit questions on religion and media that I feel would be of interest to readers of ACyberPilgrim.

When will this happen?

On Wednesday, May 2nd – Mary will start the conversation with her response to –

The field of educational technology is over 35 years old and media literacy over 50 years – both are important to today’s  world of religion and media.  How do we as faith-based ministers catch up with a fast-paced media world to learn and to be exposed to the best practices of both educational technology and media literacy with church leaders who may be resistant to the use of media in church ministry?  Just the other day a Media Center Coordinator casually shared the following with me –

There is a commercial in our area that talks about digital learning… students will never need to leave home… and learn all they want.  It just scared the heebie-jeebies right out of me to think of a whole generation with no interaction with others… and book smart, not street smart – and that does say something else.  Please don’t think I’m meaning this in a negative way, or don’t want things to change….. OH MY… what would this world be if we never evolved and learned!  It is just the speed and lack of thinking that I hear when I learn what CAN be done… not the controlled methods that I’m sure Catholic and well planned schools will use.  As we clip budgets, people who “knew” are being let go, and people hired are in charge that do not have the skills and education to make these decisions well, and we all know the “makers” of these products don’t care one iota the impact… they just want the sell.  They use some cute marketing… but it goes out to the public that isn’t quite ready for it all… and I only mean ready in the prepared sense.. because social networking sure is a hit.

What I’m hearing in this comment is the following:

  • A judgment that “students will never need to leave home”
  • Fright that a “whole generation with no interaction with others”

The questions that come to mind are the following –

  • How do I keep up with this world? “It is just the speed and lack of thinking that I hear when I learn what CAN be done”
  • How do we teach the faith in a world that is more participatory and democratic? – “not the controlled methods” we are used to, and
  • How do we hire and/or train ministers today in a world that is now a Digital World?

What’s our role in the Blog Tour?

Come back to hear what Mary has to say about the growing fields of educational technology and media literacy in ministry.  I will post Mary’s initial response to the conversation late on Tuesday evening.  Throughout the day – Wednesday, May 2nd – you are invited to continue the conversation with Mary.  Your comments and/or questions will be a wonderful part of the conversation.  Mary will be available all day to respond to our conversation with her.

I look forward to being part of the Blog Tour with all of you!  See you soon!

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!

Strengthening Our Families

Lake Barkley in Western Kentucky

Lake Barkley

I’m at the Mid-South Catholic Leadership Conference this week and living in the beauty of a fall hideaway – Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Western Kentucky.  Florida may be warm, but Kentucky is beautiful in late fall! Thank you for the opportunity to share not only in the beauty of this land and your friendships, but to also share in the reflections of these days – Strengthening Our Families.

Of course I’m here to give a couple of workshops related to technology.  The first is titled “Collaborating Parishes & Schools: Doing Technology Together.” The second will focus on Digital Discipleship.  So, how does technology strengthen our families?

As I/We explore this question in these two workshops, what needs to be remembered is that technology is simply a tool that may be used for communication, learning, and overall management of our parish and school memberships through our collective databases.  The challenge is that we are NOT just a number in the database!  We are humans seeking love and relationships with a parish community and our God.

But how do we do this with technology?  My response is – with a great deal of thought and careful reflection.  Technology is simply a tool!  It is NOT the messenger.  Technology can be the delivery system!  It is not the message!

However, the world and tools that surround us clearly expose us to a new culture and language.  If I were to travel in a Spanish speaking land, I would learn quickly that to survive, my ability to speak English would not get me far.  For basic survival, I would need to learn the Spanish words for – eating, housing, travel, to say good morning or please and thank you!   However, if I wanted to live in Spain for the rest of my life I would end-up doing one of the following (1) either learning the language and culture so that I would become a near native and be able to conduct everyday business as a near native, or (2) find an English speaking conclave where I would live in Spain, yet conduct my daily business through others who were bi-lingual or (3) I would live in a beautiful hideaway (maybe something like beautiful Lake Barkley) where I could survive and not immerse myself in the everyday world of Spanish speaking Spain.

There are always choices! And to learn anything new takes time and patience!  More importantly, you have a reason to learn about the rapidly evolving technology that is becoming an integral part of our everyday world. If you want to learn about technology, you will!  And once you have learned about technology, you will know when and how to apply it to your ministry!  Especially how to use it in the –  “Strengthening of Our Families.”

How will we use technology in catechetical ministry?  That is still a key question!  Unless we really learn what these tools are about and how they can assist us in enhancing the message, it is like knowing the bare basics of a new foreign culture and language.  Barely surviving!

I invite you to share your story of how you are learning more about technology!  For those who are already comfortable with technology and are finding success in using technology in their ministry, what is your story? How are you using it?  Has technology helped or hindered your catechetical ministry?

If you like this post, please remember to click the “Like” button.  And yes, do join in the conversation!

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