Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Welcome to ACyberPilgrim 2016!

DigitalWordCloud

I’m not sure where 2015 went.  Here it is, it is now 2016!  So what will ACyberPilgrim be about this New Year?

I must admit, that it is always a challenge to pick a topic to share with you.  It is probably time to invite you to offer your suggestions.  What would you like me to write about in the area of faith-based educational technology?  Please take five minutes or less of your precious time to share your thoughts and ideas by clicking here.

As you ponder your response, new technologies have the potential to transform discipleship in our church.  The power of being a Digital Disciple is available to all of us today – parish members, youth, clergy, and religious. But, this potential will remain unrealized unless we empower our members with the digital skills necessary to be a Digital Disciple.

Grovo teaches Internet and technology skills.  Here is what they identify as the 8 core digital skills that the modern workforce requires to deliver on business goals and how to develop an action plant to address the digital skills gap in an organization:

  1. Working with documents
  2. Project collaboration & management
  3. Attention management
  4. Communication
  5. Digital etiquette
  6. Search and research
  7. Platform flexibility
  8. Security and privacy

Note: To learn more about the 8 core digital skills visit this PDF document.

I am inviting you to identify at least ONE digital skill that a minister needs today.  You have a question in the survey to share your thoughts and reflections.

Thank you for visiting this blog.  And I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with me.  Blessings to you in this Year of Mercy!

 

 

 

 

A Dinosaur Flipping the Classroom!

dinasour

Pope Francis recently via Google Hangouts met  students with disabilities and special needs from Spain, India, Brazil and the U.S., who shared how technology is helping them study, play and communicate.  The Pope also said he is a “dinosaur” when it comes to technology.

Perhaps the “dinosaur” image is one that many of us identify with.  Yet the students who met with the Pope eagerly shared with him how technology is part of their lives!  Teachers around the world are learning and meaningfully implementing the use of technology in their classrooms.

We are in teaching ministries today that are radically shifting in methodology all around us.  The daily classroom is being revolutionized with digital tools in ways that today’s students are comfortable with and adapt too quickly.

One methodology concept that began with a simple observation: students need their teachers present to answer questions or to provide help if they get stuck on an assignment; they don’t need their teacher present to listen to a lecture or review content.  Today this method is called the “flipped classroom.”

To learn more about the flipped classroom, I’ve been following blog postings, observed a high school classroom and interviewed the religion teachers using the flipped classroom method, and recently while attending the Florida Educational Technology Conference attended these two sessions – Flirting with iFlipping (Aubrey Harrison) and Instructional Flipping into Practice (Mark Deschaine).

As I reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned about the “flipped classroom”, this is what I’ve learned:

  • There is really no ONE way to flip a learning experience.
  • The more you are comfortable with technology, the easier it is for you to flip your classroom.
  • Be conscious of how your video appeals to those watching it.
  • Learning activities need to be interesting when your students return to your class.
  • Ask yourself: Is what I am doing – video and/or activities – engaging?
  • If you are a “newbie” moving to a flipped classroom style, have this experience first by yourself! Find a colleague who has flipped their classroom and observe and learn from them.
  • Think critically about what you are doing.
  • How you think about teaching, determines how you will integrate technology in what you do!
  • Where you are able, collaborate with others!

I especially appreciate a comment made by Mark Deschaine – This technology revolution has a huge challenge for us!

Why is it challenging?

  • Many of us are dinosaurs trying to adapt to an ever evolving digital culture, language, and learn new skills.
  • Time commitment – Ask yourself – Are you taking time to learn the basics so that you can adapt gradually your methodology to fit the needs of those you minister to? Change happens gradually, not overnight!
  • Competence development – Are you learning the basic skills you need, and choosing to be a lifelong learner to increase the development of your skills? It is impossible today to stand still and learn only ONE thing. A few months later, the technology has changed and you learn or lose it!
  • Class redesign – Will we use the methods that worked for our generation or will we listen to instructional designers (educational technology specialists), tech specialists, multi-media experts, peers, and others who are exploring and mentoring others? We need to redesign HOW we teach the faith today, so that learning objectives are accomplished via pedagogical methods, not the educational technology tool.
  • Teaching/Learning experience – How are catechists and ministers supported during this time of adapting to a new learning/teaching culture? Are we simply teaching technology tools? Or, are we engaging those who are adapting to the digital world to form others in their faith effectively, with better learning outcomes, and increased satisfaction?  What is the built in support?
  • Reflection: Are we taking the time to reflect with one another so that we examine newly implemented teaching strategies, consider student feedback, discuss and share results with peers?

Additional Resources:

Book: Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day

Blog Post: Why is Adoption of Educational Technology So Challenging?… ‘It’s Complicated’

If you are flipping your classroom, come and share your story here.

flipped-traditional-classroom

Inspirational Moments

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One of the reasons I go to the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC), is to meet folks who will inspire me to learn new things.  Recently I was reminded how simple conversations with others are also inspirational.

To my wonderful surprise, a new Digital Disciple Boot Camp (DDBC) participant shared this with me:

Hi, Sr. Caroline – I just had to drop you a quick note and tell you about what I did tonight during a class I was teaching as a result of our conversation. 

I was teaching a group class that combined three 6th grade RE classes.  I had one class waiting for the other 2 classes to arrive so I asked how many had a smart phone with them – all hands shoot up – great, I say, please look up the word “covenant” – hands start flying, voices speaking into Siri – first one that found something was about a movie – nope – next one – a good lay dictionary definition – nope – something more religious – sure enough someone finds the “Biblical” definition – perfect- screen shot so you can read it to the rest when they come. 

It was a perfect use of technology and useful as well.  Thanks for inspiring me today.

Thank you Deb Ryan, Assistant Director of Religious Education, St. Francis of Assisi Church for sharing your story with me.  I trust that you will continue to encounter many others during DDBC who will continue to inspire you.

My wish in this ever evolving 2015 year is that each of you will be inspired by others who are involved in Digital Catechesis.  We are each pioneers, trying to figure out what is possible and what works!

I look forward to sharing FETC stories with my readers over the next couple of weeks.  Since I am an introvert, it takes time to sift through the mass of information that I was exposed to at FETC.  As you visit this space, I will share with you what and who inspired me to continue to be a Digital Disciple.

Of course, come and share your stories with ACyberPilgrim as well!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.    – Mother Teresa

Returning soon!

back-soon

There are moments when we just get “over scheduled.”  That happened to me from May through September of this year.  I have been pondering a variety of articles, which are in “draft” form in my mind.  However, as I get ready to share a variety of articles with you, I’d love to hear from you, what you may be interested in learning more about technology in Catechesis and Evangelization.

If you would take a few moments to share your comments and suggestions at the bottom of this page, that would be most appreciated.  Thank you all for your wonderful comments and when I am at one of your conferences, just taking the time to say hello is most appreciated.

 

Engaging the Digital Disciple

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Today’s students have numerous gadgets in their pockets and backpacks – primarily smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Yet, have we considered how we could utilize these tools in faith formation? Perhaps you are just getting curious about how you could use these tools with your students.

In our curiosity, first determine the type of technological approach you would like to implement by considering the acronym SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Dominic Norrish in a recent post “Classroom practice – Power up to become a tech-savvy teacher” explains the SAMR acronym:

  • Substitution is where the technology does little to improve the learning process for the child, instead simply swapping one tool (a pencil) for another (Microsoft Word) with no change in the task (writing a story.)
  • Augmentation is still substitution, but you get a little more functionality for your time. Let’s say your pupils are drawing using Photoshop. The process may be easily editable (they don’t have to start from scratch) and quicker, so there are gains, but fundamentally the student is still completing the same assignment: drawing a picture.
  • Modification is where technology begins to change the way a task is taken on. For example, making audio recordings or videos of presentations so they can be referred to later or shared with absent classmates.
  • Redefinition is where technology really comes into its own. Here, the way a subject or task is managed is fundamentally changed. This could be the use of video conferencing to work collaboratively with classes across the world, or students creating story walks in the community where the narrative and instructions to reach the next point of the journey can be downloaded to iPads at certain GPS points.

Substitution or Augmentation styles of using technology really do not improve or change what we do in the classroom. Overall, we have access to a tool and use it instead of a pencil or it simply replaces how we do the task. The task at hand with today’s technology is to engage our students in participating as Digital Disciples to share their faith with others. The Architecture of Participation offers us new ways to consider using Web 2.0 learning technologies.

Steve-Wheeler

As I become more and more comfortable with Learning 2.0 technologies, I ask:

  • Am I facilitating a learning experience so that my students are able to learn more about their faith in a digital world?
  • Are they able to curate online materials so that they are able to identify reliable Catholic Internet content? After all, they often search for their information online!
  • Do I engage my students in using social bookmarking tools to tag and bookmark available digital resources? Could this be an opportunity to begin creating their lifelong digital library for faith formation?
  • Are we using news aggregator tools to follow faith news in blogs, online newspapers, podcasts and video blogs (vlogs)? Are we aware of current church news?
  • Am I using social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to engage our adolescent students in sharing and amplifying what they are learning about their faith with others?
  • How am I engaging my students to collaborate with others in social justice issues by using technology?

I believe that our job today as faith facilitators is to engage our students in learning their faith, and using the digital tools that we have at hand to share what they have learned with others. If and only if I take time to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, will I be ready to engage others in learning and sharing their faith. This is a time to pioneer and share our best practices with one another.

I invite you to consider how during the summer you will learn more about this digital world. Come back and share what is exciting you in this ever evolving digital world.

Resources for you:

Social Media Aggregation Tools

Aggregator options

11 Based tools for online surveys

 

VolunteerSpot: Free Online Sign Up Tool with Reminders

VolunteerSpot - Free Signup Sheets and Scheduling

Church ministry is nothing if not a hands-on effort requiring deep collaboration from the congregation. Getting scheduled and staying organized when it comes to volunteer and parent-supported events and activities is a snap with free online signup sheets & scheduling tools from VolunteerSpot.com

VolunteerSpot helps congregation members easily sign up to participate and pitch in with seasonal and ongoing church activities – think acolytes, ushers, Easter egg hunts, potlucks, VBS, service days and more. ParentsVBS Signup Sheet and volunteers can quickly choose what to do or to bring with a few clicks on their computer or mobile device; confirmation and reminder messages are then sent automatically to help people stay on track. Congregation participants also have the ability to swap their spots or sync their commitments to their electronic calendars with the click of a button – and they never need to register a formal account or keep a password.

Applications:

  • Vacation Bible School
  • Parish carnival volunteers
  • Potlucks, picnics & meal circles
  • Ushers, greeters & fellowship volunteers
  • Retreats, conferences, mission trips
  • Sunday school snacks & helpers
  • Outreach ministry & service days
  • Prayer circles

Ministry and committee coordinators can easily schedule volunteer needs for one-time events or multi-day activities. When planning activities with multiple shifts (conferences, carnival booths, etc.), a handy ‘Auto-Fill” feature makes it easy to pre-fill times and even schedule a short break in between.

VolunteerSpot offers multiple ways to recruit and invite participants to your online signups too – including personal email invitations, sharable newsletter, Facebook or Twitter links, or via “Group Pages”, customized with a church logo.  A Group Page lets organizers post multiple activity signups in one place and then embeds into your church website with a button or i-frame.

VolunteerSpot’s free iPad app “Clipboard” mimics a traditional clipboard signup sheet and makes it easy for congregation members to sign up in person during gatherings and meetings.  Or, if you have a completed paper signup sheet already, you can enter assignments directly into the system. Reporting, messaging and customizable alerts also make this tool a time-saving instrument of communication for your congregation, a necessity in this digital age.

KID MIN ipad

Count on a greater volunteer response, more participation from your congregation, and a less stressful management experience with VolunteerSpot’s streamlined signups and volunteer calendars.

Click Here to try a live demo.

 

Note: Thank you to Karen Bantuveris and Jessica Young for sharing the article about the Volunteer Spot website.

Websites Without a Lot of Work

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There are many parishes in our church with limited funds, limited staff, and would love to have a nice looking website. On Friday, March 28, 2014 I attended Websites Without a Lot of Work workshop hosted by the Diocese of St. Petersburg at the Bethany Center.

As I listened to Tim Potrikus, Vice President, Liturgical Publications, I began imagining the audience We Connect, a web Content Management System (CMS),  is designed for.

Are you the audience for this tool?  Possibly!  Now ask yourself a few questions, and answer with a Yes or No!

  1. We have a small budget for our parish website?
  2. We do not have a salary for a full time web master?
  3. It is time to involve our parish staff or parish organizations to be responsible for adding current information to our parish website?
  4. We’re looking for a web content tool that is easy to use and allows multi-contributors?
  5. We like the ability for assistance from a human person instead of hunting through a “Help” website?

If you answered “Yes” to at least four of these questions, I would encourage you to learn more about this very helpful tool. For parishes that are looking for a web presence, the templates and options that are offered to you give you a good start!

If you are saying that I do not have time to learn how to do this, I suggest the following:

  • Register for a webinar that will give you an overview of the tool. We Connect Webinars.
  • After you register for the webinar, send an email to Tim Potrikus at (tpotrikus@4LPi.com).  In the SUBJECT Line, just add BOOTCAMP with a message that you have registered for the webinar. Tim will arrange for a 30-day free trial for you.
  • During the trial period, initially, set-aside 1 to 4 hours to just get acquainted with the tool.  Each person is different, so if you need a longer time to learn the tool, go for it!
  • Once you are comfortable with the tool, use your parish bulletin to add the basic information related to your parish: Mission Statement, Mass times, etc.
  •  If you are a Youth Minister, or DRE/PCL, or Adult Formation Person, outline what information you want to include for your ministry area.
  • When you are ready, go to your online working space and add the information for your ministry area. (E.g., Brief description of your ministry, online registration forms, calendar, etc.).
  •  Once you are comfortable with what you have created, determine how you will share what you have done with your parish staff. Show them what you have created.
  •  What’s your goal? To get your parish staff excited about how easy it is to learn and create a parish web presence with a “team” of staff members involved in sharing the needed information about their ministries.
  • Be a cheer leader; tell folks that this was relatively easy to learn.  You do not need to be a rocket scientist to do this! (Note: In this 21st Century, it is time to include in our job positions something like the following: Able to write, edit, and enter website content using a Content Management System. (e.g., We Connect, WordPress, and other website tools).

The cost for the CMS is reasonable! There is a one-time setup and activation fee ($995) but there is no long term contract commitment.  This includes access to help desk assistance with a WeConnect staff person.

Once it is clear that a web content manager tool is taking the place of a FULL TIME WEBMASTER, your parish team, which you could call a Digital Discipleship Committee, would meet from time to time to encourage and support one another as together you continue to learn how to communicate to your parish using web tools.

As you slowly learn more about website ministry, you will be able to craft the messages that your parish community needs.

To learn more about the WeConnect web content management system tool, go to: We Connect.

You may also enjoy the Building a Great Church Website PowerPoint.

If you have a moment, check out the parish websites that have been built with the WeConnect Content Management System (CMS):

St. Matthew Website

St. Matthew Church

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Seton Website.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton

 

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