A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

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Using tools to teach as Jesus Did – QR codes

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.



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Crowdfunding with Crowdrise.com

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!

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?

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!

Symbaloo

Symbaloo

In the last few years, web browsers such as Chrome and Operating Systems such as Windows 8 have adopted visual displays that organize your content in a matrix of icons. Symbaloo, similarly, organizes your Web bookmarks in a matrix that they call a “webmix,” and allows you to organize your content by subject and to easily share your webmix publicly or privately. Links, newsfeeds, radio stations and widgets as well as searches can be part of your customized webmix. You can set Symbaloo as your computer homepage, and it’s easy to add to your webmix any time you are on your Internet browser.

Let’s take a look at how Symbaloo can be utilized in Education. First, be aware that Symbaloo already offers you access to webmixes created by educators. eTools for Education, for example, has compiled  74 icons linked to Web 2.0 resources for educators – everything from Edmodo to Storybird to Screencast-O-Matic to TED and much more. This entire collection can be added to a separate tab on your Symbaloo account with a few clicks.

Symbaloo 2

How could your Catholic school utilize Symbaloo? Could  your catechetical team benefit? What about your Youth Ministry program? While there are Catholic webmixes in the Symbaloo Gallery, this tool is so easy to use, a catechist or Youth Minister could easily create their own mix of reliable Catholic resources and share this mix with their team. It need not only contain Catholic resources. Take a look at the webmix created by Seton School:

Symbaloo 3

For another application, check out this webmix on Saints. Each link takes you to a website with more information about that particular saint. This could be a useful starting point for catechists to share with their students, a jumping off point for a project on the saints, or just suggested reading for your Catholic students over the summer months.

Symbaloo 4

If you are on the administrative end of things in your school or parish, Symbaloo can also be a helpful tool to organize online resources. Here is an example from Sioux City Diocese:

Symbaloo 5

For more great ideas or to learn more about Symbaloo for your catechetical setting, check out the official Symbaloo blog.

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.

SlideShark

As mobile devices and One-to-One initiatives become more mainstream in schools, you may be searching for ways to have an easy, interactive interface between content that catechists have prepared and student reception and viewing of that content. SlideShark is a tool that can help if you are moving in that direction. SlideShark allows you, the catechist, teacher or youth minister, to upload a PowerPoint presentation from your home PC to your iPad, broadcast your presentation to multiple recipients who have iOS devices (iPads or iPhones) and then share that presentation for later on-demand viewing. SlideShark preserves all the fonts, animations and other features  for your viewing audience. If your audience does not have access to iPad or iPhone, they can still view the presentation from their home computer via a link. No home computer? Then these would be the students who are required to attend your presentation live!

IMG_0059

There are several account options, with the entry level being a free account allowing 100 MB of PPT downloads. Advanced features such as broadcasting require a fee. At the time this post was written, however, a free trial of the broadcast feature was being offered. Check the web site to see if that free trial has been extended.

How can we use this tool for catechesis? Several possibilities come to mind.

Having trouble assembling all the busy teens of your parish for one confirmation presentation? Create your PPT on your home or work computer, upload it to SlideShark, and broadcast it for those who can attend the session. Make the link available to all confirmandi to review. SlideShark even lets you track your attendees so you can verify who has viewed your presentation.

Or maybe you just want to have a convenient, hand-held display of your PowerPoint presentation to show people as they exit church through the narthex. No need to lug out the screen and projector.  Just upload your PowerPoint presentation to SlideShark and display it on your iPad. Here’s an example of just such a presentation. Click on the image below to be taken to the presentation on SlideShark.

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For older students who have mastered PowerPoint, SlideShark can be an effective tool to share their presentations with the rest of the class.

Remember: not all students will have iPads, so provide other options for viewing if this is the case.