Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Methods and Theories’

The Role of the Catechist in the Age of Google & Alternative Facts

Today we are surrounded by digital information that is created by a variety of organizations and individuals.  In a matter of seconds a search finds thousands of possible resources related to the topic we are searching for.

As mobile tools, become an integral part of our daily lives and the ability to find out almost anything if we have Internet access, causes me to ask – am I able to find the best Catholic information online or will I also find “fake” information related to my faith?

If you are engaged in any of the following tasks, you will need to find the best possible Catholic information that resides on the Internet:

  • A student who has been assigned the task of explaining the History of the Sacrament of Baptism or any topic to be researched!
  • RCIA catechist who will be explaining the history of Baptism to RCIA candidates
  • A catechist who is involved with Parents who will be baptizing their child and preparing a parent lesson.
  • A child, teenager, or adult curious about the History of the Sacrament of Baptism

Steps to Review Internet Articles

To begin, you are invited to sit down at your computer and go to the “Google” website.  Begin your search with the phrase“Sacrament of Baptism.” A variety of options are usually presented…

I’m delighted to see “Sacrament of Baptism History” as an option. Choose this topic or you can just type in the Google search field “Sacrament of Baptism History” as you begin your search.

 

As you see in a few seconds’ numerous articles are located for you. Your next task is to figure out what are the “best” articles related to the topic of your search.  Normally, the first 20 articles are the options you want to begin with.  For this article, we’ll work with the first six articles asking three simple questions:

  1. Is this a Catholic website? If yes, is it sponsored by the Vatican, the USCCB, a Diocese, a Parish, a Catholic Publisher, a Catholic University, or by an individual who is writing this article.
  2. What do you know about the writer? Name, who do they represent – Vatican, Diocese, Parish, Catholic Publisher, Catholic University – Theology Department, Self? What degrees do they have? Who are they associated with?
  3. Is the information current, dated or biased?

Answering the Questions

It is usually helpful to create a table that identifies – Article – Organization/Individual – Writer Info – Date of Article. As I ask the three questions, here is what I learn about each webpage:

Article Catholic Org or Indv Writer Info Date
Catechism of Catholic Church – Baptism Vatican Vatican 1993
Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation Catholic Education Resource Center Fr. John Hardon, SJ – Biography – http://www.hardonsj.org/biography/ The Catholic Faith 4, no. 4 (July/August 1998): 5-11.
Sacrament of Baptism Catholic Doors Jonn Miller No Date Listed
History of Baptism – Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia Contributors See “Cite this Page
Baptism Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent This article was transcribed for New Advent by Charles Sweeney, S.J. 1907
The Sacrament of Baptism Holy Trinity Catholic Church Holy Trinity Catholic Church – Probably prepared and written by a staff member No Date Listed

 

Deciding What to Read and Study

Just asking these three questions, and after identifying the responses to the questions I would choose three articles to begin my research and learning.

Catechism of the Catholic Church – Baptism:  This is a Vatican sponsored article and is part of the newest Catechism.  A good resource to study.

The Holy Trinity parish article: Why?  It is written for a parish audience to quickly and simply explain to them information about the Sacrament. After reading the Catechism article, I would be comparing the Catechism content with this article to see how this article clearly articulates what has been approved by the Vatican. Despite no date or specific author listed, this is a current Catholic parish in the Shreveport Diocese.  While reading the article, references to the CCC are made which indicates that this is a current article, most likely prepared by a parish staff member.

Baptism – New Advent: Since we are focusing on the History of the Sacrament of Baptism, this article was approved by bishops in 1907.  It would provide an explanation of the sacrament at this historical time.  Since I read the two more current articles, I will be trying to identify what is the same or different between the Catechism Article (1993) and the Catholic Encyclopedia article (1907) regarding the history of the sacrament of Baptism. This article will contextualize for me how the Church understood the Sacrament of Baptism before Vatican II.

An article I would read to understand what seems to be an article that would be more supportive of pre-Vatican II theology is:

Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – Why? This is a resource that is supported by a group in Canada.  Their goal is wonderful – your online source for the best in Catholic faith and culture.  However, as I view the information about the “Executive and Advisory Boards” there are flags for me.  The phrases that cause me to pause are:

  • Professor Emeritus – indicates for me someone who is academically astute, but may have a more traditional mindset that may not support Vatican II theology. These members represent – English and Humanities, School of Education, Christianity & Culture Program, Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy.
  • Organizations that are known to support Pre-Vatican II Theology: Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ignatius Press, and Catholic Answers.
  • Author “Fr. Hardon, SJ who is known in Catholic circles to be more of a traditionalist who was critical of Vatican II theology.

It is important to know and be aware of both sides of the equation in today’s church.  The audience who arrives on your doorstep comes from a rainbow of theological experience.  As a teacher/learner it is important to respect the rainbow of colors in a parish.  Our call is not to engage our communities in fighting one another regarding who is right and who is wrong.  Our call is to engage our faith communities in a dialogue so that both sides grow in understanding and welcoming one another.

I would not recommend or read the following two articles:

Sacrament of Baptism – Catholic Doors.  Overall the design of this content is not very appealing as it is all text based.  On closer examination to see who is sponsoring the website, I found the following – The Catholic Doors Ministry is owned and managed by Jonn Miller. This ministry is a response to Pope John-Paul II’s appeal that the West is in need of re-evangelization.

There is no additional information about Jonn Miller.  There is this statement – Catholic Doors Ministry operates from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Even after googling “Jonn Miller saskatoon saskatchewan Canada” or “Jonn Miller Catholic Doors Ministry” I did not find any significant information Jonn, specifically a short bio or any additional information about this person.

History of Baptism – Wikipedia.  In general I, do not recommend Wikipedia articles as I will always want to compare and contrast with recognizable other sources the content of their material especially related to faith based articles.  Why?  My personal bias is that a website with faith and theological content needs to be reviewed by theologians (academic or practical) who are recognized for their expertise.  In general, Wikipedia articles are written and edited by those who sign up with Wikipedia.  There is no vetting process to acknowledge that we are receiving good theology in these articles.  And even if approved, by fact that this is a wiki tool, anyone can come and add information at any time that may or may not be accurate.  When I check the “Cite This Page” I notice that the Author is listed as “Wikipedia Contributors.”  I have no idea who these contributors are as they are not listed.  Thus, there is no way to learn more about these authors.

The Challenge of Digital Faith Research

Gone are the days when there are only ONE or TWO resources to read.  Today’s digital world is a library of articles written by a variety of writers who have and do not have a theological background. Our task is to find the best articles to assist us in learning more about our faith.

As I ask questions about my faith – Who is Jesus? Where did he live? What is the Bible? How do I study the Bible online? And many other questions, it is possible to ask Google or any other Search Engine to assist us in learning more about our faith.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass (CC)

However, the task is now on us to locate and find the information that will truly enlighten us!  We need to admit that today we live in a church with a rainbow of theologies: Pre-Vatican II, Vatican II, and Post Vatican II.  This rainbow of theologies is represented in the articles we find on the Internet.

I particpated on February 6, 2017 at a Listening Session where our new Bishop Gregory Parkes, invited parish members to share their insights around three questions.  As I listened to the shared comments representing the 500 persons attending this event, I heard statements that reflected the rainbow of theologies that currently exist in our church.

Because we are simple human beings, we will gravitate towards our personal bias and expect others to believe like us.  It is time to respect and learn from one another.  We all have a bit of the truth that we are invited to learn from one another.

It is not time to “push” our beliefs onto others.  It is time to engage in a conversation or dialogue that allows me to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus.

As you engage in Internet research to learn more about your faith, come with clear questions you are using to guide you in picking your resources.  Take the time you need to “discern” and “choose” the best articles to read and reflect on that will engage you in becoming a faith-filled Catholic!

Remember it is not what you know about your faith!  It is about knowing and coming to a deeper relationship with Jesus!

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

Online Collaboration & Communication Tools

I’m back to my desk after being very involved in the Interactive Connections Conference that was held in Orlando, Florida last week. In the near future I will share more about the conference.

Overall most of us have been involved in collaboration and communication while teaching or in our ministry endeavors. The Webster Dictionary states that collaboration involves- to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. Yes, we do collaborate in so many ways! We love seeing each other and meeting face-to-face!

However, what is “new” for us is to be able to collaborate with others in an online environment. Most of us are unfamiliar with how to do this or may think that this option is beyond our budget. Some of us will come to this option with the mindset that – collaborating face-to-face (F2F) is better! So, we will not even have the desire to try the online option.

I would encourage the “Pioneers” in our midst to be the catalysts in their communities to engage others in online collaboration. The options are many! Most of the options are FREE. Check out Sean Aun’s article, Work Together: 60+ Collaborative Tools for Groups for suggested tools.

OnLine Collaboration

OnLine Collaboration

I will highlight some of the tools that Sean refers to and others that I’ve used successfully with other collaborators. I would invite those who have used any of the collaborative tools mentioned in Sean’s article (or any other tools) with success to share their stories with us.

Here are a few options for you to consider…

Doodle –  A collaborative way to coordinate groups for identifying a date/time for a meeting. All can easily collaborate to find the best date possible.

Google Docs – Here is the place to collaborate with others using word processing, spreadsheets, form building, presentation and date storage tools. How can these tools be used?

  • Documents – Invite your students to use Google documents to write a short essay. Show them how to share the document with you. You can add your comments and grade the reflection. Students can choose to create a digital portfolio of their work.
  • Spreadsheets – Invite a team of students to create a spreadsheet where they are sharing information with one another.
  • Presentations – Invite a team of students to create a prayerful reflection that is shared in class.
  • Use Google Docs to build a form with a text box (or text boxes) that correspond to question(s) you want students to respond to after class at home. Invite your students to input their thoughts into the form. This application automatically incorporates the feedback into a spreadsheet. Next class, have the printed spreadsheet in hand or show via your computer and LCD projector and open up a discussion based on what students have shared.

The gift of Google Docs is that students can work from the comfort of their home computers and collaborate creating their document at various times or at the same time of the day.

Blogs – Yes a blog is a collaborative tool! As a teacher you can focus on writing a weekly question, comment, or assignment where students are expected to comment and collaborate with each other in this virtual space. A blog can be a private or an open space for the students. You choose!

Glogster.Edu Simply put, a Glog is a kind of poster – fully designed by yourself! As a tool, a student can be creative using text, images, music and video. Think about a Who is Jesus exercise! To use in the faith-classroom, I would engage junior high students. What allows this tool to be collaborative is that others may comment on the Glog. Here is an opportunity for students to engage in a digital activity as well as to respond to other students.

John Kuglin sees presentation as another critical part of 21st century learning. It doesn’t matter what field you’re going into, you’ve got to be able to collect, organize, and pull your thoughts together—typically with a team—and then present those thoughts in a way that is understandable to other people. Collaboration and presentation are absolutely tied together.

I so appreciate what Andrew Marcinek has shared – One of our best resources as learners is our ability to connect. We can connect like never before and have the opportunity to engage with others from around the world on a daily basis. If we can learn anything from the web 2.0 generation it is that the ability to share and learn from each other is limitless.

With the many tools that are now available to us, it just takes time to explore and to see what works best for us. Here is another list of tools that you may find helpful.

Once you have used a tool for a project, come back and share your story. Many of us would love to hear what you are finding to be helpful to you in your ministry.

The Future of the 21st Century Catechist: How Technology May Transform our Faith Teaching

The other day I was searching for a YouTube video that would focus on today’s Digital Kids.  Here’s what I discovered?

I must admit, I watched this video several times.  Why?  I’ve met young people in the parish and in the family and I’m aware of how “digital” they are.  However, this video really got the point across that today’s kids (in general) are immersed in the digital world?  (Of course, there will always be exceptions).

I love the question at the end – Are we ready for them? Now, if Best Buy can ask this question because they are wondering if Best Buy will be ready for the next generation of gadgets boys and girls will want; then we need to ask – Are we ready to teach the faith to this emerging DIGITAL generation?

Perhaps the importance of this question, becomes clearer with the work that Ian Jukes is involved with.  I love the opening line of a recent book he co-authors, Teaching the Digital GenerationWe wrote this book because it is vitally important that education respond to the drastic changes taking place across the globe. I am of the opinion, that how we engage students in learning their faith in the 21st century will require that we are comfortable with their digital world and that we can engage them – when appropriate – with their tools!

This next video is a bit long, but worth every minute.  Listen now to Ian Jukes (an educational evangelist) as he speaks about understanding the Digital Generation:

I know I keep saying, after being in a classroom with today’s students – especially at the junior and senior high level – They are different! Their speaking DFL (Digital First Language) and our speaking DSL (Digital Second Language) is part of today’s challenge.

  • How are everyday educators dealing with this changing student?
  • Where are some best practices?
  • When we talk about 21st Century learning, what do mean?
  • What does it look like?
  • What happens in the classroom?

Let’s listen to a description by Lisa Short who demonstrates how she teaches.

As we ponder how we might teach in this evolving 21st Century environment, What will be the “best practices” of the 21st Century catechist?  How will technology transform our faith teaching?  If you are a “pioneer” in this area, would you be willing to share your story?

If you “like” this post, remember to click on the [like] icon below. 

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

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