A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

Archive for August, 2012

Evernote

Tool: Evernote

Ever have issues organizing your research for projects or presentations? It can be a monumental task to compile quotes from web pages, videos, images, and documents and organize them. Often we find ourselves bouncing from folder to folder where we have saved our information, or we use a lot of paper and ink printing out full pages for tiny snippets of text. Evernote is an online tool that lets you save all these different media forms in one location and access and share them from several platforms and devices. Here’s the best part: it’s free! You can purchase a Premium package for $5 a month or $45 a year for additional storage, options, and security. Check out this video for a quick introduction:

 

So what are the ministry applications? If you have a presentation to make, Evernote provides not only the means for you to arrange your notes and media clips, but if you clip something from a web page, the address is also included so you can reference your research. This is a very important aspect as we should model solid ethical practices in our work.

How about the Religious Education classroom? Check out how this school’s students use Evernote:

 

Here are a couple of applications for Youth Ministry:

Mission Trips Often parishes will ask mission trip participants to report on what the experience was like. Evernote provides you a central location to load and save pictures, video, information about the location and notes about what was learned and experienced by multiple contributors from multiple devices. Once the group returns, they can get together and produce a presentation based on all the information they collected during their project. If you’re hesitant to use social networking as a way to give parents and other parishioners real-time updates on the mission trip, Evernote provides a great way to collect memories for teens to record and show when they get home.

Group Projects One way to make learning more engaging is to add elements of collaboration and discovery. If students can work together to research a topic for a presentation, such as a particular saint, they are more apt to show interest in the subject and retain the information as opposed to being lectured to. Evernote can be utilized by a small group to collect and organize its research that can later be turned into a presentation using something like PowerPoint or Prezi.

Organizing thoughts, information, and media can sometimes be challenging. Evernote provides a great way to keep everything in one spot yet accessible from anywhere.

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Photofunia

Tool: Photofunia

Photofunia is an online tool for uploading photos, and putting them in fun and/or elegant settings. Here is an example of a still.

My Spouse

Original Photo

My Spouse in a Heart

Photo made special with Photofunia

and an example of a moving picture… a “gif” created in Photofunia. You may need to click on the photo to launch its own window and give it motion.

Steamed Up Spouse

Photo enhanced and given motion by Photofunia

Imagine creating a class yearbook with photos of your students… that they supply… and you find a Photofunia effect to match their personalities! The Photofunia app for mobile devices can be found here. With an Android, iPad, iPhone, etc. you can snap a picture of your student… or of your students’ work, and apply the great Photofunia effects right then and there.

Here is a quick demo of the online version:

If you believe that you can now create a fun, odd, or engaging picture out of your own photos – click the “Like” button.  Once you create something to engage your students, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Pixlr

Tool: Pixlr

Pixlr is an online toolset for creating, editing, enhancing graphics. The toolset includes:

Image Drawn with Pixlr

Drawn image, imagine what you can do with some talent!

Prayer

Original Image

Prayer Reworked

Prayer reworked with Pixlr Express

Cross

Original Photo

Cross

Cross “retouched” with Pixlr-o-matic

and more…

This is a great tool for your digital storytelling projects. PLUS, you can enhance your images, and then upload them in Animoto to create even better copyright free videos! Don’t forget that you can make slides in PowerPoint and/or Keynote with stylized text, save the slides as jpg images, then further enhance them in Pixlr. Imagine your learners snapping photos corresponding to the Stations of the Cross, reworking them in Pixlr, and creating an Animoto video with appropriate music recording using the free program Audacity.

If you believe that you can now create, enhance or edit graphics or photos – click the “Like” button.  Once you create something to engage your students, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.

GoToMeeting

Tool: GoToMeeting

How many of us in ministry have had trouble scheduling meetings because of conflicting calendars, had to miss meetings because of personal conflicts, or had meetings cancelled because of bad weather? Of course, the answer is all of us, so what can we do about it? One solution is GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting is a web conferencing tool that allows you to host an online meeting with up to 25 people. The company also has an additional product called GoToWebinar that allows you create your own webinar for up to 1,000 people. The convenient aspect to this setup is you can attend a meeting or webinar not only from your computer but also from a tablet or smartphone.

Curious to explore the GoToMeeting experience? They allow you to have a 30 day free trial. After that, there is a fee to host meetings or webinars, but the cost can be offset by savings in utilities and supplies you might normally need to pay for to prepare for a face to face meeting. Meeting participants attend for free and do not have to join anything. Once you schedule a meeting, an email is sent out to participants with a link to join the meeting at its designated day and time. All they have to do is click the link, enter the provided code and their email address for verification, and voila! They are ready to go. Watch this video to see GoToMeeting in action.

Some of the main features that GoToMeeting provides are as follows:

  • a video option to see people’s faces
  • on screen texting to attendees
  • the ability to show the screen of the presenter to all participants
  • the ability to switch presenters during the meeting
  • sharing of keyboard and mouse control with other attendees
  • the capability for recording the meeting or webinar for other people to view later

So how can web conferencing help in ministry? First and foremost with committee meetings. As previously stated, we all have had issues scheduling a meeting or had to miss one due to a last minute conflict or had bad weather cancel a meeting. As long as you have a laptop and Internet access, these hurdles can be overcome. A few months ago, for example, my wife’s car was in the shop and she needed a ride to the doctor’s office for a check-up. I had a meeting scheduled for 15 minutes before her appointment. I was able to drop her off and sit in the parking lot and attend the meeting on my smartphone.

Ever have a Religious Ed. class canceled for bad weather? Schedule a meeting and send an invite out to your teens. They can learn in the safety of their own home. Take it one step further and plan a class through GoToMeeting. Invite parents to attend as well if you wish. It’s one night they don’t have to drive their teen to class and you might be amazed how much you save in supplies, such as paper and printing.

Do you have a program suffering from poor attendance? Try creating a webinar. People can attend it live online, and you can record it so others who can’t make the presentation can view it later. It’s a great way to run an “Ask the Pastor” series because you can control which submitted questions are seen by participants and also have options for polls and surveys.

As someone who has been doing ministry in various forums for over 20 years, I understand that as ministers we generally prefer to meet face-to-face for the sake of community building. The reality is that is not always possible and at times not even desired. GoToMeeting gives you a great tool to solve these issues.

Check out how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is utilizing GoToWebinar

ThumbJam for iOS

While we are talking catechesis and technology, let’s not forget your students who are musically talented – or want to be! More and more, music is a part of our world: online, in iPods, over speakers and live. ThumbJam is one of those apps most people can probably live without – but some of us can’t live without it.

The free app for iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone gives you over 40 instrument sounds, the ability to change key, change style of music, create loops, record your music session for sharing and much more. You can also upgrade to the paid app and have the ability to record your own voice over your original music and many more features. A complete users guide to all features is accessible online at http://thumbjam.com/usersguide.

Watch this demonstration to get an idea of how easy it is to use ThumbJam to create music:

Are your students engaged in digital age learning? Are they creating original work to express their thoughts and feelings? Are you engaging students who are auditory learners? Let ThumbJam be one of the Web 2.0 tools in your catechetical toolbox for the musically-inclined in your class or ministry. When your students create videos and podcasts, let their original ThumbJam creations provide the background music. Let ThumbJam music provide a starting point for discussion of the evolution of sacred music used in liturgical settings. Challenge your students to discover a syle of music that they believe enhances prayer anad worship, to create a short composition that illustrates this, and then ask the rest of the class to write about their response to this music.

Enough about my creative ideas. I’d love to hear about how you use ThumbJam in your catechetical setting!