A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

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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?

ABCya

Toolset: ABCya.com

One of my favorite animation tools, xtranormal, is now defunct (but watch for a renewed animation environment at  nawmal, xtranormal‘s purchasing group). In fact, I’m finding that many favorites are disappearing as the excitement of online tools wanes, and companies look toward mobile app development to invest their time and resources. However, there are still online learning sites that provide easy tools for youngsters to create storytelling graphics while learning rudimentary media literacy skills. I was very pleased to see Joyce Donahue’s post about one animation tool called Wimeo. Since I like to built a repertoire of different tools to answer different needs, I continued to scour the web for easy animation tools for youngsters… and oldsters like myself.

Enter ABCya‘s suite of learning tools for the younger set. ABCya was developed by a teacher who created this wonderful site because, as a new teacher looking for online resources for children, he found himself “in a never ending labyrinth of sites for kids loaded with violence, nested links, difficult navigation, and subscription fees!”

ABCya is an online collection of educational games for the younger set. Two in particular caught my eye for creating.

Creed Word Cloud

A word cloud is a, well, cloud of words! A famous word cloud tool, Wordle, is the subject of an earlier post. ABCya has a simple version geared for youngsters. They click the empty screen to start, type or paste words into a box, and click the arrow on the bottom right to create the cloud. There you can set the number of words to be shown, filter out common words, and change the color, layout and font of the cloud. I played with it by copying a Creed from on online source, created the cloud, and noted the largest words, which occur most often. You can then save the cloud as a graphic to use in a PowerPoint, or even as a background for the animation you can create using the next tool:

 

Getting back to xtranormal (click here for my “sniff!“, my face drawn in ABCya’s Color, Draw & Paint, and imported as a background for a Make an Animation clip) I’ve found that the animation maker in ABCya has its own charm. It is really for the younger set, but I must admit I was engaged for quite some time playing with its features. It is really simple… and limited. But, between WORD CLOUDS FOR KIDS (or ABCya’s Color, Draw & Paint) and MAKE AN ANIMATION, your students can create creative animated gifs, the file type that can be played in any browser, and thus can readily be embedded in your parish or school website. If you need to turn an ABCya animation into a movie for inclusion in Animoto video creation, Moviemaker (Windows), iMovie (Mac), or to upload it to YouTube as I did above… you can convert the gif to a video file using the video converter tool at Online-Convert.com.

I took the word cloud above and made a gif that you can see by clicking here.

Here is a video tutorial of using Make an Animation to create my non-award winning Sniff gif.

 

If you like these suggestions, click the “Like” button.  Once you engage your students with these tools, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Big Huge Labs – A Bunch of Cool Tools

Tool: Big Huge Labs

Big Huge Labs is a collection of online tools for creating all sorts of fun things for Catechetics… and Evangelization, too. My two favorites are the “Motivator” and the “Magazine Cover” creator. Here is an example of each:

Motivator

februariesYou’ve seen lots of Motivational Posters… and some De-Motivational Posters. Motivator provides a chance for you and your learners to fill the online world with uplifting motivational posters that proclaim the Reign of God, and gives examples of what it takes to see it, and to make it happen. Upload a photo, graphic, or scanned image, and supply the Title and Sub-Title. Then download the finished product for posting, printing or “PowerPoint”ing.

Here is a super quick tutorial:

Magazine Cover Creator

"Swimmer has a Vocation" Magazine CoverIf you are leading your learners through an exploration of their vocations, you may want to have them create a magazine cover describing their gifts and talents. Or, you may want to create them yourself as a surprise for them. They will find they do have unique gifts, and exploring them is one step in discerning what God is calling them to be and do.

Simply go to Magazine Cover Creator, upload a photo of your learner, follow the instructions and click create. You can download the finish magazine cover for posting, printing or “PowerPoint”ing.

Here is a super quick tutorial:

Don’t forget to play with the other available tools at Big Huge Labs, including Mosaic Maker, Photobooth, Movie Poster, FX, and more! You can upload photos… but don’t forget you can create other graphics using lots of other media, then upload them and create wonderful new ways of proclaiming the Story of the Reign of God!

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.

Blogger

Tool: Blogger

Blogger is for blogging, which is an art form in and of itself, deserving of a full exploration beyond the scope of a Web 2.0 primer.

However, Blogger can also be used as a simple learning platform. Instead of posting the diary/journal type entries, called posts, that a blogger would post, you can post prayers, reflection question, stories, content, and announcements. You can also easily embed graphic images, including photos, and video. Finally, you can post from a computer, or from your email. Each post can be its own lesson, tutorial, retreat or demonstration.

Readers, or participants can engage in simple conversation using the comment box under each post. You can also give the special email address connected with a blog (or lesson, or book-read, or reflection, whatever you want to call it) to others who can help author the content.

We used Blogger at the 2012 NCCL Tech Boot Camp, and many people posted using the email account. However, when folks tried to create their own accounts, we ran into an odd difficulty. Apparently Blogger (owned by Google), saw a lot of account creations coming from one location. We are guessing they thought we were hackers, and shut down the projects. This will not happen when you create your account, and follow the tutorial at http://nccltechbootcamp.blogspot.com (Blogspot is another domain name owned by Blogger). Learn Blogger, and dream of how you can easily create an online environment for collaborative learning!

Here is a screen snapshot of the tutorial on using Blogger as a learning environment, hosted by Blogger itself!

If you believe that you can now create a Blogger with Blogger, and use it for online reflections, learning or teaching – click the “Like” button.  Once you create something to engage your learners or colleagues, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Aviary

Tool: Aviary for iPad and other iOS devices

Aviary WAS an online toolset for editing, enhancing and creating online.

However, they have moved away from the Flash based toolset and created a free app for the iPad, iPod and iPhone. It seems that they are working on a version for the Android OS as well.

You can add text, stickers and choose from many free effects, or purchase additional effect sets in app. Here is an example of a photo with text, a crown, a little brightness adjustment and an effect. Imagine what you can do with photos you snap of your learners’ drawings… and a little graphical talent.

Cross before Aviary for the iPad

This is the original photo of a Cross

Cross reworked with Aviary for the iPad

Reworked with Aviary for the iPad – notice the crown and the text

More information is available at Aviary.com, including a demo.

If you believe that you can now enhance or edit graphics and 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.