Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

New Year Resolutions for Our Catechists

Paul with Grandkids and iPad

As I was reading Isaac Pineda’s blog post “3 New Year’s resolutions educators should consider,” I thought – What New Year resolutions do we need to inspire our catechists in this wonderful 2014?

I invite you to share this post with your catechists, as we are in a year where the Digital Culture will continue to surround our ministry.  We need to become Digital and Connected Disciples!

Become a connected catechist.

I love what Isaac says – “Becoming a connected educator (catechist) is one of the widest decisions that will have an impact on you, the kids you teach and everyone around you.  But, what does it mean? It’s simply harnessing the power of technology to leverage your instructions.  It’s incorporating technology in your teaching practice to boost student engagement and motivation.  It’s a commitment to become a lifelong learner.”

How can we do this?  Someone in the parish needs to lead others to become “connected catechists”.  It may be your DRE, or there may be a tech savvy catechist who collaborates with the parish DRE and mentors others in the parish to improve their technology skills.  One of the best training programs is Digital Discipleship Boot Camp.  Read 21 Inspiring Messages and hear from those who have completed this training.

This program is now completely ONLINE and can be completed from the comfort of your home or office. The Winter Session begins on February 4, 2014 and the Summer Session begins on June 10.  Check out the schedule and register here. Of course, if you would like a trainer to come to your location, we can work with you in a blended format where Modules One and Two are presented at a location of your choice and the other modules are presented online.

Once you are a connected catechist, then you become the pioneer, adapting what you have learned to enhance what you do in your classroom.  Come and visit the following websites:

  • Catechesis 2.0 – Several bloggers share tools that can be easily used for Digital Storytellling and more.
  • ACyberPilgrim –  a conversation about Digital Discipleship
  • Digital Catechesis  – A worldwide community for advancing the effective use of technology in all areas of faith formation.  There is a wonderful video library here that members of this online group have shared and used in their ministries.

I invite you to come back to any of the three blogs to share your story of becoming a connected catechist.  We need to inspire one another on this new journey!  In this New Year, do resolve to learn all that you are able so that you can truly inspire your students to become Digital Disciples in this ever evolving Digital World!

Happy New Year!

HNYear-2014

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.

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!

We will be in Orlando next week!

The third annual Interactive Connections Conference takes place Monday (evening), January 23 thru Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the Doubletree Orlando at Seaworld. The theme “Incarnating the Gospel in the Digital World” will bring together leading Catholic educators from around the world to explore the evolving role of technology in their ministries.  Responding to Pope Benedict’s call to use new technologies in the cause of evangelization, the participants will get firsthand experience of best practices and how to incorporate them into their ministry. Attendees at the conference will network with others in integrating technology into parishes and/or schools and every facet of catechetical ministry in the 21st century.

 Keynote speaker Fr. Lawrence Rice, C.S.P,  previous Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at Ohio State University and an Associate at Paulist Media Works and Paulist Communications, will focus on Preparing for the Post-computer Church. Currently he is a member of the Paulist Congregation team, as first Consultor. Learning sessions will include topics such as: Lead by the Technology at the Service of Catechesis, Mobile Technologies in Your Ministry and Church, Parish Websites: Tools of Evangelization, and other cutting edge outstanding programming.  Attendance will afford you the opportunity to interact with passionate practitioners who are ground-breakers in e-technology integration into all areas of catechetical ministry.

A new feature is Speed Dating Learning Sessions!  Here is an opportunity to meet practioners who are applying what they are learning to their parish ministries.  You will learn about – Serving Busy Catechists through Web tools for Catechist Certification, Evangelizing Through Geocaching, Parent to Parent Podcasting, and more.

A featured highlight and unique offering of the 3-day Interactive Connections Conference will be spending one or two days – at no additional cost with the FETC (Florida Education Technology Conference) in Orlando, one of the largest, most successful K to12 conferences in the United States devoted to educational technology. This gives our conference even more access to  cutting edge technologies and social media across the curriculum while being exposed to the latest hardware, software, best practices in student technology use and the opportunity to visit some 300 technology vendors.

If you are coming, I look forward to welcoming you.  If you are not, join us on Twitter at hashtag: #IC2012.  All attendees are invited to share their stories, insights, and learning’s in this space!

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!

Sharing our Wisdom

To all our wonderful catechists and Diocesan Staff who are tech savvy!  During this wonderful Advent season, I invite you to share your tech wisdom with one another.

Technology Wisdom

I’m sure you remember how intimidating it can be to integrate new tech tools into your catechetical ministry.

I’m inviting anyone who is doing something with technology in their ministry to share their wisdom with our faith-based audience (we’re over 500 catechetical tech mentors right now).

I’d like to create a booklet for catechists and DRE’s who need help incorporating technology into their catechetical ministry.  It’s your thoughts and ideas that are important today!  You are the trail blazers – exploring and trying out these new tools with your students.

As many of you are aware, the power of technology can transform learning sessions and change participants lives.  Your stories are the ones I would like to tell – real tips from real catechists.

If you would like your comments to be included in an online FREE booklet, please send your information to me via the Blog Contact form .  Or, simply add your comment to this blog post.  I’ll bring your thoughts and suggestions together in ONE PDF booklet to share with all of our readers.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Remember to click the “Like” button.  This is a simple way to say “Thank you for your sharing!”

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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