A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

by Kellie De Leo, Director of Faith Formation, St. Bartholomew Church, Long Beach, CA
ddbc
Digital Disciple Network Associate



You have seen them around, these little boxes that have black and white blotches in them. They are on cereal boxes, magazines, our condiments, and much more. But what are they? They are called QR Codes; meaning quick response.

According to Wikipedia, a QR code is ” a specific matrix bar code (qror two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR bar code readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL, or other data. “The “QR” is derived from “Quick Response”, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

So, you are probably saying to yourself, these are for advertising, they have nothing to do with ministry. Wrong! I like to think of these as “little jewels” because they can be used easily, without much effort, while opening up a whole new world for us to engage our learners, our parishioners or visitors to our church campus.

When Jesus walked the earth, he taught and engaged His followers using items that were relevant to them and they knew about. This still holds true for us today. QR codes can be qr1one of these tools we can use to engage our audiences on a variety of levels.
QR codes are easy to create and use. All you need is a laptop/desktop, tablet, or smartphone, a QR Code generator and QR code reader. To create a QR code, I usually use my laptop or desktop, but if you are more comfortable on a tablet or smartphone you can create a QR code with them. There are several free QR Code generators and readers to choose from. You can even choose a color, and add an image to them now.

Once you select a generator, all you do is add the URL for the item you want people to see and it will automatically generate your QR code. Then you can download it and put it where you want to use it. Your audience then can scan the QR to reveal your message. To scan a QR code you will need a QR Code scanner which can be downloaded to tablets and smartphones free.

The possibilities are endless for the uses of QR codes. I would like to share 10 ways you can use QR codes in ministry:

1. God Created Me – Find out more about me! Have the children type in some things they qr2like to generate a code, then have their picture on card that says “God Created Me.” Scan the code to learn more about me.

2. Find out more about where Jesus walked. Take a map of where Jesus walked and create a QR code that has a video of that area showing where Jesus would have preached, or walked.

3. Learn about Saints, ten commandments, etc. – To learn more about Saints, you can have posters up around the room, then a sheet of questions that they would have to find out from scanning the QR code. This could be the same for the ten commandments, beatitudes, corporal works of mercy.

4. Learning prayers – To help children learn their prayers you could have them decipher the code to see what line comes next in the prayer or what word. Another way is to help qr3them see what words they missed.

5. Create Advent Calendar, or Walk through Lent

6. Scavenger Hunt – Have children find the clues and then decipher the code which could be topic of discussion or bible verse.

7. Tour of the Church – place QR codes around your parish that tell what the various items are. You could have a video to describe it or written words. Example – place it next to the baptismal font, stations of the cross, pews, statues, outside the parish that tells about your parish, etc.

8. Bulletin Boards – Have your audience learn more about a certain topic.
Example – thisqr4 year’s catechetical theme is “Prayer.” You could have an image, then below the image a QR code descripting the prayer. Your bulletin board could say: Can you name the different prayer styles?

9. QR Stations for self-directed learning: Creating QR stations. Have stations set up around the room on a specific topic. The students scan the QR code to reveal the task and the students must work together to get the task complete.

10. Review – Send a note home telling families what you learned in class this week. It can say: Dear Families, this week in class we learned that Jesus created everything, including me. Here are a few resources you might want to explore with your child of the next week. Then have the QR code that has a couple of different resources for them to review. It could be something for them to read together or a video, or song.



crowdriseFrom time to time, it may be helpful for you to have an online fundraising tool at your disposal, outside of the main parish/school ways of soliciting funds. Parishes and schools have finance councils and boards in place to plan and oversee anticipated expenses. But what about legitimate needs that simply don’t fall under the umbrella of the parish or school?

Two examples come to mind. My best friend, a self-employed professional, was diagnosed with an aggressive and serious cancer. Although she had medical insurance, treatment meant she would lose all her income for about 9 months. Obviously, no one church could meet the financial needs of every person with this kind of medical challenge. She set up a fundraiser and quickly raised about $12,000, which allowed her to focus on her cancer treatment and not worry about her income. Her donors were from her very wide circle of professional associates, church friends, family of friends, and more. I’m happy to report that her last two checkups revealed no cancer, and that she is getting back to work, grateful for the love and support of her online community. Take a look at Linda’s fundraising page here.

img_0101In the second example, our parish recently welcomed a family of six legitimately resettled refugees from Africa. The family consists of a mother and father in their thirties and their four children under the age of 7. While they received assistance from the State Department and the agency resettling them, they still had many needs: clothing, bedding, transportation, car seats for the two youngest children, cleaning products, toiletries, a washer and dryer, and much more. Imagine not being able to speak English and having to provide for your family on minimum wage jobs, find child care, figure out how to get to the grocery store, etc. Fortunately, we discovered this family because they registered at the parish (all are Catholic) and walked – with all four children – to Mass every Sunday, several miles! Generous parishioners helped with translation and used items, but when we began an online fundraiser, we were able to raise an additional $2500 to help buy bicycles, cell phones, towels, bedding, kitchen supplies, a crib for the baby, and much more. While we feel good about being able to help, we feel BLESSED that God put us together with these lovely people, surrounding them with new friends and able to show them the mercy and care we value as God’s people. See our fundraising campaign here.

How does Crowdrise work?

Whether you are a private citizen or a non-profit organization, you can use Crowdrise to raise funds for your cause. Follow the directions carefully to set up the type of account you want. The good news is that if you make a mistake or get lost, the helpful support team is more than willing and able to troubleshoot mistakes. (I speak from experience.) Click here to see many other organizations, large and small, that have utilized Crowdrise and click here to see celebrity causes, just to get some ideas.

Be sure to link your Crowdrise account to one of the two money-handling agencies. You will need your bank account information to do this. The setup process includes step by step instructions on how to do this.

After you open a Crowdrise account, it’s time to create a fundraising campaign. Choose a name, a goal and create a description. Upload a compelling picture to go with your cause. Finalize your campaign and then be sure to test it to make sure someone can successfully donate before you share the link.

By default, Crowdrise prompts the donor to add on an extra donation to cover administrative costs. Otherwise, the receiving campaign (you) will pay a 3-5% fee. Be sure to let your donors know (in the description of the campaign) that they can choose to not pay that extra % by clicking on the option to just make the straight donation. You will then assume that cost, but the convenience of this tool is well worth it.

Once you have tested your campaign, share it in every possible social media site. Facebook and Twitter are integrated into the tool. You can also create a html widget to put on your website. Don’t forget the old-fashioned way of simply emailing the link out to your contacts.

Crowdrise makes accounting for your funds easy. There is also a way to send a thank you message to each donor as the funds are donated. If you receive a donation by check outside of Crowdrise, you can simply add it as an offline donation. You can choose to have your funds deposited to your bank account daily, weekly or monthly.

I think the best thing about Crowdrise is that it gives the individual a way to connect with others and easily raise money for a worthy cause. The feeling of being an instrument of grace and generosity is unsurpassed. What a great way to teach your students or co-ministers a creative way to meet the needs of the least of us, using the power of many people coming together under the inspiration and prompting of the Holy Spirit!

productivity

PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS: DOODLE, TOODLEDO, and EVERNOTE is part of the Digital Disciple Network Webinar Series.

What will you learn: An introduction to 3 different tools you can use in ministry; Doodle to help schedule meetings, Toodledo to keep your tasks straight and Evernote to put an end to the question, “where did I put that information?”

Held on: Monday, November 14, 2016

Time: 8:00 – 9:00 PM Eastern Time (There will be time for questions)

Your Presenter:

 r-bartalini-2 Deanna Bartalini, M.Ed.; M.P.S. is the Director of Faith Formation for St. Edward Catholic Church in Palm Beach, FL.  She has served in the diocese of Palm Beach since 1985 in both paid and volunteer positions in the areas of religious education (all levels), youth ministry and stewardship.  Prior to working in full time ministry, Deanna worked in the field of English as a Second Language as a teacher, consultant, teacher trainer, curriculum developer and publishing sales manager.

Deanna both manages and provides content for many organizations’ websites and social media outlets, both national and international.  She serves as the editor of the NewEvangelizers.com blog and is a contributor there as well as CatholicMom.com and AmazingCatechists.com.

Serving as a Digital Disciple Network associate allows her the opportunity to teach others how to use social media and web based tools to spread the Good News, reach students and parishioners more effectively and learn from others as well.

Thank you to all who were able to attend the PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS: DOODLE, TOODLEDO, and EVERNOTE webinar.  Following are the PowerPoint Slides and the Webinar Recording.

The Webinar recording –

 

 

 

Pinterest for Ministry

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Digital Disciple Network is offering a series of Webinars for various Web 2.0 tools.  The Pinterest webinar was presented on Thursday, October 27, 2016 by Katie Choudhary.

Come to learn about PINTEREST IN MINISTRY!

What will you learn: This is an opportunity for you to learn how to curate, pin, and post on Pinterest.

Your Presenter:

 r-choudhary Katie Choudhary is a married mom of three (Anthony – 7, Maria – 4, and Joey – 1). She taught in the Catholic and public schools and briefly served as an interim principal for a total of 6 years. Upon Anthony’s arrival into the world, she hung up her teacher hat to be home to raise their children. While home, she began and successfully ran an online fitness business, coaching others along their individual paths as they reached their health and fitness goals. She now serves as the Assistant to the Director of Faith Formation at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond in Joliet, IL.  Katie is also a Digital Disciple Network Associate, serving as DDBC Presenter, Producer, and Coach.

Thank you to all who were able to attend the PINTEREST FOR MINISTRY webinar.  Following are the PowerPoint Slides and the Webinar Recording.

Webinar recording:

PINTEREST in Ministry from Digital Disciple Network on Vimeo.

The Gift of Pokémon GO

By Claudia McIvor, Digital Disciple Network Associate

August 28, 2016

 

pokemon 1The new mobile app augmented reality game, Pokémon GO, developed by Niantic, is such a phenomenon, it would seem irresponsible if I, as a digital disciple, did not give it a meaningful strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis before proposing it for adaptation in the evangelization arena. Like any new media tool, it’s helpful to spend time learning and then discerning, asking ourselves if this is a gift we want to unwrap or not.

First, let me say that yes, I do play the game. I am not a Pokémon GO expert, but I have real life experience. I am not young. I am in my sixties, but I have a playful heart and an inquisitive spirit. The older I get, the harder it is to find experiences that enchant and charm. Pokémon GO has become one of those experiences. I play it alone and I play it with my young adult children. Quite frankly, I can’t wait for the right moment to suggest this tool for use at my parish staff meeting. Maybe this article will help! For a good overview of how to play the game, click here.

Years ago, a GPS enabled game called Geocaching was invented. Similar to Pokémon GO, an app gives the gamer directions to previously hidden real or virtual “caches” or hidden containers. The gamer’s task is to use the app and a GPS-enabled device to navigate to these hidden caches. The fun is in the hunt! In most cases, finding a cache meant you simply signed the log and then replaced the cache for others to find. Geocaching was readily used by youth, adults, and outdoorspeople, and then adapted for educational technology. Read more about one school that adapted geocaching as part of their technology/computer curriculum here.

Similar to the cautions raised on the Geocaching web site, there is an inherent danger in walking about in the real world to play Pokémon GO. Yes, you do have to be alert and careful of where you are walking, who you are with and follow basic safety rules. Does Pokémon GO put people in danger, or does it give them an opportunity to make safe decisions about interacting in the outside environment? Your comfort level with risk may determine your answer. Read the “Safe Play” section of Niantic’s TOS statement to learn more.

Another caution about Pokémon GO is the inherent privacy issues of users who create accounts. Niantic has posted an Account Maintenance and Guideline update stating that the game only, and ever has, had access to the users basic Google information, not full information. Read the statement here.

Read the full Terms of Service Statement for Pokémon GO here. Naturally, we are concerned about our children. The TOS clearly state the restriction of this app to children aged 13 and older. The consent of the parent is required for the use of the game by children under the age of 13. Non consent will result in the account being terminated. Parents can also terminate the account of a child by submitting a request to Niantic.

Basically, parents are meant to give guidance and set boundaries for safe play in Pokémon GO, similar to any other children’s game or use of media. Our aim is to raise good digital citizens, and gaming is becoming an unavoidable opportunity for parents to teach their children the principles of kindness, courtesy, fair play, safety and boundary setting. To me, that’s a good thing: the teachable moment.

pokemon 2Another teachable moment in the game is to recognize that Niantic is in business for profit and that Pokémon GO offers in-app purchases. Highly engaging games will tempt users to drop a few dollars to progress more quickly, to buy extra items, or to replenish missing pokéballs when you run out at the most inopportune moment – like when a rare Vulpix suddenly appears in your path. Better to have that conversation with your child well before he/she gets in that situation so you don’t find unexpected charges on your credit card!

Having discussed some of the weaknesses/threats of Pokémon GO, let’s take a look at how the game might provide opportunities for catechesis, evangelization, community-building, hospitality, and meaningful interaction. Below is a selection of recent articles specifically about using Pokémon GO in a church setting. As you will see, there are many opportunities for outreach, hospitality, and evangelization if a parish is willing to think outside the box.

Christianity TodayThe Best Way for Churches to ‘Capitalize’ on Pokémon GO? Play it. This article makes some insightful points: are you seeing people on your church steps playing the game? Welcome them in! Remember that gamers may have had past negative experiences with church and that gaming has positive, community-building effects. After all, players must abide by rules, pay attention to the details around them, and cooperate to achieve a goal.

Catholic HeraldChurches swept up in Pokemon GO craze. “… nature of the game is driving swarms of players to unsuspecting churches, businesses and other landmarks. But as it grows in popularity, priests, youth groups and others are quickly finding opportunities to evangelise young people.” Talking to youth, opening the doors to young people, and taking advantage of this cultural phenomenon are all addressed in this article.

Episcopal News ServiceEpiscopal Churches go for Pokémon GO. This article praises the way Pokémon GO is bringing people out of isolation and into interaction with one another. It asks the very important question, “How shall we respond?” to the crowds of visitors. One strategy suggested was to install a cell phone charging station in the parish hall! Not only is this article positive in its tone, it also offers many practical suggestions for churches to use.

Huffington PostWhat To Do If Your Church Is A Hub For Pokémon GO. Huffington Post is the USA Today of online media. Check out this article for short, to the point ideas and lots of digital images showing practical ways to welcome gamers and invite them to engage with your church.

Christian Post Church and MinistryChurches Are Using Pokémon Go as Evangelism Tool to Catch Them All, Says Hunter Frederick. Public relations expert Frederick shares ideas for meeting youth where they are, not where we’d like them to be, using Pokémon GO.

United Methodist ChurchPokémon Goes to Church. This online article offers some do’s and don’ts to churches as they see the opportunities of many gaming visitors. There is also advice on how to remove your site from the game if you wish not to be listed as a PokéStop.

Church Marketing SucksPokémon GO: Sending People to Your Church. This blog article (yes it’s a blog – you can tell by the name of the site) gives a quick recap of how the game works, the phenomenon of sending gamers to places they would otherwise never go, and links to other articles, tips, and a video about how some churches are responding that’s hilarious. Here’s my favorite hint (I know, many of you will not know what it means, but some will!) “We’re activating a lure every weekday at 12 pm, and this Sunday at 10:30 am (hppc.org/attend). Let us know what you catch!”

The Wardrobe Door8 WAYS CHURCHES CAN CAPITALIZE ON POKEMON GO. Starting with a promotional video, this article then offers a series of very practical and helpful suggestions for churches that want to make their campus welcoming to gamers. My favorite is to offer drawings for free Pokémon gifts!

The Washington PostCome for Jigglypuff, stay for Jesus: Church in the age of Pokémon Go. This article has some great ideas for boundary-setting, meeting the challenges with humor, and seeing the big picture when your church is a PokéStop.

Pokévangelization WebinarPokévangelization- an opportunity to connect in a new way- by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This hour long video primer is a very comprehensive overview of the history of the game from 1995 through present. It carefully presents the opportunities as well as the threats of using Pokémon GO in church settings. Guest presenters include a risk/loss specialist with advice for balancing being a welcoming parish and liability issues.  “You might never find a Pikachu, but I promise you this – Search for Jesus and you’ll find Him every time. Let #PokemonGO. Go #FindGod.”  (Tweet from Bishop David Ricken displayed in this article.)

pokemon 3It is absolutely clear that the Pokémon GO phenomenon is a valuable opportunity for churches to reach out to a much-missed population of millennials, and to evaluate their own ability to be flexible and responsive to evangelization opportunities. After only a month in existence, the media, churches and leaders are paying attention, writing, and considering the many opportunities that this game brings. As many of the above resources mention, it is most important to be aware of all facets of the game in order to manage the opportunities as well as the risks. I absolutely encourage parish staffs to be aware of Pokémon GO if their church is a PokéStop, and to consider how this, as well as the inevitable future variations of augmented reality games, might be a gift they do, indeed, want to unwrap.

Additional  Resources

Many of the suggestions in the articles reviewed above show publicity, including images. Images that you, as a Pokémon trainer, take on your phone/camera are free to use and share. The Niantic blog specifically states: “We have a few exciting updates to share. We’ve added a new Camera feature that enables Trainers to take photographs of their wild Pokémon encounters. Now you can take a photo of Squirtle next to that scenic lake or Ivysaur hanging out by the park. The photos will be saved to your phone’s camera roll to share with whomever you’d like. We can’t wait to see the varied environments in which trainers will find wild Pokémon.

Here are a few more resources to check for Pokémon GO images.

 Free Pokémon Clip Art (By definition, clip art is free to use without attribution): http://www.picgifs.com/clip-art/pokemon/

Copyright free Pokémon images on Pixabay.com: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/?q=Pokemon&image_type=&cat=&min_width=&min_height=

Google Image Search Advanced Mode will yield some images that are free to use. Check each image. Attribution may be required.

This article is part of the training materials used in Digital Discipleship Boot Camp (DDBC). For more information about training in technology applied to ministry settings, please visit our website, http://ddbcformation.org.

I recently attended an ecumenical conference (e-Formation 2015) at which the focus was technology applied to faith formation. The energy was positive, the workshops inspiring and the best practices illuminating. Of all the tips and tricks and apps I discovered, Parallel Bible was one of my favorites. This app combines the best of visual social media, (think Instagram), with a search function to help you find a relevant Bible verse that describes your very human experience.

CaptureParallel Bible uses the World English Bible, an updated form of the American Standard Version.  While not the version approved for Catholic liturgical use, it is certainly acceptable to use various translations for personal prayer and devotional reading, and the developers of Parallel Bible App have done us a service by providing this public domain, copyright free web version of Scripture.

How does the Parallel Bible App work? After creating your free account, you simply post your own digital images and match them up to a related Bible verse. You can search verses by OT or NT book, theme, keyword or reference. Once your image and verse are posted, others who follow you can comment, fave and share. You can scroll through the images that others have posted, as well. Parallel Bible is rated for age 12 and up. At present, it is free and ad free.

How can this be used in a faith formation setting? How many years have we been hearing people say that Catholics don’t know their Bible? Of course we do, and here’s an opportunity for you and your catechetical students to demonstrate it. Here are just two examples:

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Genesis 1:29
God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed,
which is on the surface of the earth…”

 

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Psalm 18:2
“Yahweh is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…”

Using this app for a catechetical assignment could inspire your students to see the world around them with eyes of faith, and build awareness of and familiarity with Bible verses. As comfortable as young people are with Instagram, they should have no trouble with Parallel Bible, as it works in a very similar way. Sharing faith on one’s mobile device is a distinctly 21st Century way to evangelize!

Here are a couple of ideas:

Choose a Bible Verse. Have your students find an image in their everyday lives  to illustrate it. Have them upload these to Parallel Bible to share with one another and the world. Have your students comment on one another’s interpretation of the verse.
or…
Start with an image of the statuary in your church. Send your students on a Scriptural hunt to find a Bible verse that expresses that image. Share them on Parallel Bible.

While these ideas could also be carried out on Instagram, the unique feature of Parallel Bible is the integration of an online community of believers. Your students will grow in their understanding that they have much in common with Christians around the world who have also experienced the presence of God in their lives.

 

Moovly

Tool: Moovly

moovly logo (501x199)Ready for another free animated movie/storytelling creation tool? At this point, I don’t think it is necessary to expound on the merits of using this type of tool. You wouldn’t be following this blog if you needed convincing. So, let’s get right into the details of another great animated  movie maker called Moovly.

Just like any other free version of software, it is limited in what you can do as compared to their paid subscriptions, but what is offered in the gratis version is quite impressive. Here’s what you get:

  • 10 minutes of movie length (most free version of other companies give you 2 – 5 minutes for free)
  • Ability to create an unlimited number of videos, but only 1 at a time
  • Resolution is standard definition at 480p. For HD, you need to subcribe to a paid plan.
  • A library of animated graphics, including the “Doodle Marker” – the hand and marker animation that can write and draw
  • Ability to upload your own pictures, sounds, and voice overs
  • Ability to export your creations to YouTube and Facebook
  • An opportunity to earn free credits to purchase things like background music

Just like an of these animators, it takes time to get used to the editor and get good at creating videos. Moovly is quite intuative and pretty easy to learn. check out the video below to see how Moovly works. Please share your creations with us!

 

Click here if you cannot see the video below.

 

 

Adobe Voice

Tool: Adobe Voice

The bad news: Adobe Voice is an iPad only tool for digital storytelling.

The good news: Adobe Voice is an elegant, easy, and powerful tool for digital storytelling. And it is free.

While I typically shy away from recommending apps that are platform dependent, this one is too good to keep secret. Check out what Catholic author Jessie Bazan created at http://voice.adobe.com/v/IP5c8-3×845 using Adobe Voice.

If Dr. David Walsh is correct in saying, “Whoever tells the stories defines the culture,” and if we want to tell the Story of the Reign of God… and teach our learners to do so as well… I cannot think of a better tool than Adobe Voice, given its simplicity and effectiveness.

Adobe provides searchable libraries for photos, music, and icon-like graphics; and different structures to walk you and your learners through the process of planning and constructing different types of stories (like mini-storyboarding). You supply the story, the narrative, the text, and your own photos. Adobe Voice then puts it all together in video format and allows you to share your story in a number of ways, including saving the video to your iPad to further expand your sharing options.

Basically, you log into your free Adobe account and then:

  1. choose a type of story to tell, from a narrative to an invitation
  2. pick a design theme, which comes with background music (but you can change the tune)
  3. create a slide
  4. add text, photo or icon
  5. hold down a record button as you narrate a slide, then play it and re-record if you like
  6. repeat

Finally, you share the video in a number ways ways, now including saving it to your iPad where you have more options of sharing it. Plus, you can use other iPad video editing tools, like iMovie, to enhance the video further.

I created the following video off the cuff and in just a few minutes. Imagine what you and your learners can do with some foresight and planning.

 

I suggest downloading Adobe Voice from the iTunes store and trying it out. It will surely beat watching the dry tutorial I’ve created for you below in case you don’t have an iPad… yet.

 

Of course, as a catechist, there are many uses for Adobe Voice. You can create prayers to begin class, upload presentations to YouTube for a flipped classroom experience, or create an invitation to the parish festival… uploaded to Facebook. Since you can insert your own photos into a slide, you can even export a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, and turn it into a video with narration and music. What other ideas are you hatching for Adobe Voice that will help you and your learners to tell your faith story, the story of your parish… and indeed the Story of the Reign of God?

It’s here! Brand new on iTunes and ready in the Google Play store in about another week: the Catholic Words & Games app is a great way kids of all ages can learn Catholic vocabulary words while visually identifying objects they see in church, from the Advent wreath to a zucchetto. It combines high-quality graphics and sound with video game-play to help make learning fun on iPad, iPhone or Android tablet/phone.

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The app, first of its kind, was created by Dan Gonzalez of Agnus, LLC, who also created The Mass Explained app. It has 5 play modes to teach the names of items kids will see in church:

  • Flash Cards (in several modes, with definitions and real-world pictures available for each object)
  • Memory Match (tap and match pairs of “cards” for up to 4 players -in levels from 4 to 48 items per game)
  • Spell It (with Scrabble-style tiles – from 8-40 items per game)
  • Tap It (choose the correct graphic when the name is read) 10 – 30 items per game)
  • Name Match (drag and drop the “card” next to its correct name, from 10-50 items per game)

Each game also has options to play for time, accuracy and fun (not scored) – so there are plenty of ways to play, which means it will keep players interested for quite a while. This video will give you an idea how it works.

This is the electronic version of a physical flash-card game which  Gonzalez created originally as a printable for his own children, and which has become quite popular among home-schooling parents. The possibilities for use of the app version at home, on the go, in the classroom are only limited by the imagination. Catechists and teachers can make use of Catholic Words & Games on whatever devices are available, with kids taking turns, or playing in small groups – or even project the games and let kids play in teams or in some modes in a “bee” format.

Name-Match-Header

This high-quality and attractive app features instant feedback, verbal, visual and musical, musical themes for each version of the game, along with Gonzalez’s signature bright and beautiful graphic representations of liturgical objects. These are bright, clear and simple enough to represent the objects. The addition of the definitions, which feature photos of the objects as found in the real world will help kids make the connections to what they see in Church.

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I have been living with Catholic Words & Games on my iPad for several months, participating in beta testing and (disclaimer) assisting with the liturgical definitions, and I have to say, it’s fun for people of any age. I have had several adults try it and they, too, found it quite engaging. I have high hopes for this being well-used by families and in the catechetical classroom. This is the wave of the future, connecting media and functions familiar to most children to catechetical content.

Cost of the iOS app is $4.99.  Android users can sign up to be notified when it is available in the Google Play Store.

join.me

Budget. Return on investment. Value. Frequency of use. Ah, those pesky but necessary terms that help churches determine whether to make a purchase. The fact is, when investing in technology, these are very real things to think about. This is why finding solutions that may not be super feature rich, yet meet your needs, and are affordable (or even free) can help make these leaps of faith easier on the digestion.

The ability to offer online meetings is definitely one of those options that churches would like have but balk at it because of cost and how little it may be used. Fear not! There is an option that gives some of the benefits of GoToMeeting but at the cost of Skype (that’s free, by the way). It’s called join.me.

online meetingjoin.me is built by LogMeIn who connects millions of people to their devices, data, and apps every day. Their basic plan, which is free, offers you the ability to connect 10 people to a meeting, plus these features:

  • Mobile apps – works with iOS and Android.
  • Screen sharing – show your desktop to participants.
  • File transfer – send files to each other during the meeting.
  • Internet calling – connect through Voice over IP.
  • Share control – can give control of organizer’s screen to others, one person at a time.

For an annual bill of less than $13 a month, you get some nice extras:

  • Up to 250 participants
  • Unlimited audio – free international calls and meeting access via phone.
  • Share a window – choose a window to share, and keep the rest private. All alerts, email notifications, and third-party chats will be hidden.
  • Presenter swap – let someone else show his/her screen and become the presenter. Works with PC, Mac, or iPad.
  • Meeting lock – control who sees your screen.
  • Annotation – everyone can mark up the screen. As the presenter, you can take a snapshot of the screen for your records and clear the screen to start fresh again.
  • Record your meeting – record audio and visual and store it in LogMeIn’s cloud, Cubby.

If you want to have online meetings or have staff, committee members, parents, or teens attend an in-person meeting they might have otherwise missed, join.me is a great option for parishes looking for a simple needs solution or are limited by their budget. Nervous about trying it? Liturgical Publications, Inc. uses it for their online meetings across the country. Give it a try!