Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

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!

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

Harness the Power of Technology


Students Using a Laptop Computer

Annunciata Catholic Academy

In the June/July 2011 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology, the feature article by Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education , tells us how we can “Harness the Power of Technology”  in the classroom.

As I read the article, I felt challenged as a religious educator!  Classrooms all around us are changing!  Yet, the methodology we use for religious education is changing very slowly.

Allow me to highlight several of the article comments for you.  You may even want to substitute “catechist” for the term “teacher.”

Innovative teachers like you are leading this technological transformation in our classrooms today. You use powerful resources to engage students, deepen their understanding, expand their creativity, and help them solve problems. Because you have the passion, knowledge, and experience, you can prepare your colleagues to follow your lead and play a pivotal role in our national effort to transform our schools into innovative learning environments.

I understand that you face considerable challenges as you create digital learning environments. Some schools are rich with technology but are still stuck in the 20th century model of teaching and learning. Some teachers still see technology as an add-on to their lesson plans rather than integral to the process of teaching and learning.

Much like the printing press allowed people to learn from books as well as teachers, digital technology offers learners powerful new environments that include simulations, animations, scaffolded and guided practice sets, and experts who may be far away. With your firsthand experiences, you are uniquely qualified to articulate, showcase, and explore the power of technologies for learning.

So, how will catechetical leaders harness the power of technology in their teaching the faith?  Where are the current stories?  Perhaps you will share your story.  In addition –

Let’s have a chat about the following this week –

  1. Are we ready for this classroom transformation?
  2. What is holding us back from moving into becoming a 21st Century catechist?
  3. How do we immerse ourselves in the transformation that is already taking place around us?

Let us begin a conversation to see what we are thinking and feeling!

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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