A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Parallel Bible App for iPhone

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?

Canva – Free Online Graphics Creator for Social Media and More

Looking for acanva ad simple, versatile editor for creating unique Facebook or Google+ cover pictures, Twitter headers, PowerPoint slides, website elements, posters, business cards, photo collages, invitations or other custom visuals for ministry? Canva.com is your one-stop answer.

When our diocesan website coordinators first recommended we use Canva to create the scrolling banners for our agency pages on our new website , it didn’t take long to create things we could use, in the form of custom dimension graphics. In fact, I think I completed my first one in about 20 minutes. Now, after about 6 months of frequent use, I can knock one out in about half that time.

Canva front page view

Canva front page view

Canva, which is currently in beta mode,  allows you to choose a background, an image, text – in a variety of fonts and sizes, and to manipulate transparency, cropping and other visual elements within  your chosen size. You simply create – and publish the link  – and your graphic will open a dialog box to save to your computer.  At this time, it only works in Chrome,  so you need to use that browser, rather than Internet Explorer or another choice.

I admit that at first my tendency was to create pretty simple, one-dimensional items. But Canva, unlike most online utilities, cares about how you use it. Every week, the Canva people send an email from with a new hands-on tutorial to learn one new graphics-handling skill.

Why is Canva so great? Because pretty much anyone can use it – and you can either use their custom layouts or photos, or upload your own. Canva offers a good choice of free backgrounds and photos, but also offers elements for which they will charge you (only one dollar) for using. So far, I have made lots of great things using the free elements and my own uploads, such as this simple seasonal Facebook cover shown below reduced from original size, using a copyright-free graphic.

He is Risen!

 

 

 

You can also add text to existing photos for social media posting, as I did here (right):  I dont always see my shadow... OK, this was done back in February and, lest we forget, it WAS a terrible winter!  Certainly this could be used for any social media or blog post for which you want to create a unique custom graphic.  Choose and upload your photo, select “Social Media Post” as your size, choose a font and add text to create your visual message.

Mark your calendar for June 5th!

To the left is one of our recent webpage banners, using a simple background, a shape,  photos and text – all of which are easy to manipulate and customize to create eye-catching promotional pieces for any event.  The possibilities for design are many – and the learning curve for making this is not prohibitive for busy people.

One of my more serious recent efforts was for a custom Facebook cover referencing a scripture quote that has particular meaning for me as a cantor and church musician.  (Shown below, left).  I began by choosing “Facebook Cover” from the pre-loaded sizes,  located and uploaded a copyright-free graphic from Morguefile.com and custom cropped it, adjusted transparency and added my text.  For the praise of his glory

This is just the beginning of what I think I will be doing with Canva. I have recently learned through the tutorials how to find and use the “shapes” menu, and I will certainly be making more graphics for social media, our website, my blog and for presentations. I could also see this being used to create infographics (using a custom size, or graphic elements for use in the parish bulletin.  What great ways can you think of to use Canva for your ministry?

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.

Digital Storytelling with 30 Hands Mobile App

30 Hands - Logo

If you have an iPhone, iPad or an iPod Touch you now can download a FREE app called 30 Hands Mobile. Why? 30hands Mobile is a fun storytelling app that allows students, teachers and anyone with creativity to easily create stories or presentation based on photos, images or slides using a smartphone or tablet.

If you are wondering what you can do with this app, check out the Storyboarding Exercise.  Here you will find an overview of how to begin using the app. Very easy and simple to use.

Jonathan Wylie’s 30 Hands Mobile Tutorial gives you a full overview of how to use the app.

Here are a few suggestions for using the APP with your students.

  • First, find out which students have access to an iPhone or an iPad.
  • Send an email to their parents to ask them if their student could bring the iPhone or IPad to your class (tell them which date).
  • Once the parent says “Yes”, send then an email with the name of the APP “30 Hands” and the iTunes link.  Ask them to download the app so that it will be available for the class project.
  • Assign the students to work in groups (this way a student who may not have an iPhone can be part of a group to create a video).
  • Choose a Theme for the video, for example: A Scripture Story, Story about their Confirmation Name, or….
  • When working in the groups, involve all students in creating a storyboard.  Distribute a copy of a storyboard  that you can find at Printable Paper
  • Invite the group to create a storyboard.  You may want them to view this video “How To Create a Storyboard for Your Video”
  • Once the storyboard is completed, review the story and offer suggestions.
  • Once approved then students can work on taking the needed photos, drawing images that will later be photographed and added to the Photo Roll.
  • Have the students view the 30 Hands Mobile Tutorial.  This can be done in class, or you can email (or text) the URL to your students/families for them to view before they come to class.
  • When all the images are ready, add them to the project and add the sound (audio or music)
  • Once the video is completed, you can show in class or add to your class blog, ask your parish webmaster to add to the parish website, or email the links to the families to view.

Example

Here is an example of a video that was created after the Dedication of the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Imagine taking students to visit their parish church or the diocesan cathedral and inviting them to tell the story of this church, what they learned during their visit.

Here is an example – http://30hands.ipresentonline.com/members/ccerveny/presentations/3690-cathedral-of-st-jude-the-apostle/details

You will discover that using this app is very easy to use.  In addition you will also discover that this service provides an option for creating an online learning environment with your students.  I’d encourage you to check it out!

Go to 30 Hands  where you will discover an easy-to-use interface that allows teachers/catechists  to quickly create course outlines then drag and drop multimedia content into the course and organize by topic, unit, theme, module, project team or learning style.  Students always have quick access to the materials they need and teachers can quickly change the course structure as needed.

I hope that you will try the mobile app, as it is one of the easiest I’ve used to create a video.  Come back to tell us how you are using the 30 Hands Mobile App or the course service.  We’d love to hear your story.

Wideo: Make Simple, Free Animated Videos Online

Wideo is a free, fun online tool for making animated videos online that can be easily shared.  Users sign up to create simple short videos using animated elements with either recorded voice narration or music and text.   Here is one of their short promotional videos, created using the tool:

Wideo provides tutorials on their website, but also has a great YouTube channel for users to learn how to create effective videos.  the Wideo.co Learn Space has 12 instructional videos to teach users how to use different elements of animation. Clicking on “Explore” on the main Wideo website takes you to a group of reusable videos created by others that you can edit.  Any existing Wideo can be edited, or you can start from scratch and create your own.   When you create a video, you can upload it directly to your account on YouTube, which may take some time, or download it directly (for a fee.)

When using the editor to create a video, tip windows pop up along the side to help with each element. You can add music, upload your own images and sound files. I found that once I got started, the site was pretty intuitive to use.  It took me about 90 minutes to create my first presentation video. Although I know I could spend much more time watching tutorials and learning the fine points, this does not seem like a bad first effort as a simple presentation.  The only issue I have is that the site automatically chooses which screen will be the cover image.

There are certainly many other potential uses for Wideo – some of them involving collaboration with students.  For instance, students can work together to develop a Wideo during class time, using the free, downloadable storyboard tool.  We know that technology availability varies from program to program, but that does not preclude the use of an online tool like this.  If there is internet access during the session, the video can be created during class. If not, the catechist, or a team of older students working out side of class, could create the video and download it to a desktop (using a tool like the YouTube Downloader) for showing during class at a later time.  

Here is Wideo’s own collection of ideas for use in the classroom, many of these adaptable to the catechetical session: