482 – Wearable Tech

This week on WELSTech we talk about the future of wearable technology in education. It’s not quite ready but it’s coming! Listen also for news from Google Voice, a new edtech evaluation tool for schools, and WELSTech’s own Alex Trebek.

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The discussion:

Sew in a circuit board – Jason Schmidt, Technology Coordinator for Bennington ISD near Omaha, NE and one of WELSTech’s Classroom Technology Correspondents, chimes in on the topic of wearable tech which has been identified as having mainstream K-12 educational adoption in the next 4-5 years in the New Media Consortium K-12 Horizon Report 2016.

News in tech:

The new Google Voice launches bringing a modern look, group chat, photo sharing & more

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Learn more about wearable technology in this TEDxSFU video, How wearable technology will change our lives, on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching YouTube playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 483 – Amber Rose joins Martin and Sallie to share some about “Chatter That Matters” from the Holy Hen House. Release date: Wednesday, November 2.

Get involved:

Interactive Faith Bible Study

WELS has been providing online Bible studies through their Interactive Faith series for a number of years nows. The brainchild of a few pastors from the South Atlantic District, this form of study has touched thousands of lives with God’s Word. Since the beginning Livestream has been used to stream the one hour presentations to the internet. Through the use of a chat feature viewers can ask questions and provide comments and answers to study question. Many of the participants joined from their homes, but the original model was designed to be presented to groups gathered together for onsite interaction. A study guide is provided.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost all the presenters and moderators. This truly is a labor of love for all involved…a love for the Word of God. Most presenters are unfamiliar with the format. They must learn to look into a camera rather than the eyes of students, who can provide verbal and non-verbal feedback. Despite that, the materials presented have been excellent. One of the advantages of this kind of format is that “experts” in the subject matter can be shared with a wider audience.

Application/audience

While the online chat feature can only be experienced during the live presentations, the presentations themselves are all recorded and available online. These by themselves could be used in traditional Bible study formats along with the study materials. We’ve used them for team Bible studies within the technology department at the Center for Mission and Ministry on occasion. Take advantage of the hard work that went into these. They are timeless and will surely benefit any group you can gather together to view them and participate in the built-in discussions.

A sample of the studies so far include:

  • What does this mean? The continuing importance of Luther’s Small Catechism
  • Uncovering Our Calling
  • What’s In A Name
  • The Ministry of Elisha
  • Who Am I & Why Am I Here?
  • I’d Like To Study My Bible, But…
  • The Book of Jonah: God’s Grace to Runaways

These series can be found at https://vimeo.com/channels/976946.

As of this writing, the next series is scheduled to start on Wednesday, February 1 at 6 and 8pm CST. It is called “Mysterious Marriage” by Pastor Randy Hunter.

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Jeopardy for Church and School

Teachers are always looking for positive ways to engage their students in the learning process. In addition, team game play can be a great fellowship activity for any group – all church events, teens, etc. At JeopardyLabs.com, users can create free Jeopardy games using their own question banks. The games are accessible from any device, including tablets and smartphones.

Application/audience

JeopardyLab games can be created for all types of Q&A sessions including review of catechism lessons, Sunday school materials or any school subject. It is also appropriate for a fun team game at church fellowship events. Check out these samples:

Related resources

Another option for creating Jeopardy games is with a PowerPoint or Google Slides template.

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481 – All In On Texting

WELSTech this week is a walk through an awesome variety of feedback from our listeners including great tips, websites, and many other ministry resources. Martin and Sallie share their own favorites as well as spend some time talking about texting for ministry.

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The discussion:

Exploring – The monthly WELSTech community feedback episode is overflowing with new tech-in-ministry ideas to explore.

WELS now:

Interactive Faith Bible Study

  • Rev. Randy Hunter leads “Mysterious Marriage”
  • February 1 – 22 – Wednesdays at 6 and 8 pm Central

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Learn more about church copyright from the Christian Copyright Solutions webinar, Understanding the Copyright Complexities of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, the newest addition on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching playlist on YouTube.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 482 – Edtech week rolls around again next week, and we’ll be discussing wearable technology with Jason Schmidt. Release date: Wednesday, February 1.

Get involved:

Bible Keyboard

More and more communication is happening from our mobile devices – text, e-mail and social media posts. The YouVersion Bible app team recently added features which allow iOS users to easily incorporate God’s Word in their mobile communication via a new Bible Keyboard.

Application/audience

The Bible Keyboard takes advantage of Apple’s third-party keyboards function which is built into iOS version 8 and higher. iPhone and iPad users may activate the keyboard in Settings. With the Bible Keyboard activated, Christians can easily inject the truths of God’s Word into their mobile communications. The video embedded below walks through the activation process, and demonstrates how to use the Bible Keyboard functionality.

Related resources

In addition to the Bible Keyboard, you can also easily add verse images in the iMessage texting app which is built into iOS. The minimum requirement is iOS 10 for this functionality.

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Member Texting

One rather inexpensive (and underutilized) technology available to churches today is SMS (Short Message Service) or “texting.” It has a number of advantages over social networks, emails, digital newsletters, and other more “sophisticated” technologies.

  1. It comes directly to a device that most people won’t go anywhere without.
  2. The messages are normally short and to the point. Perfect for the short attention spans of today.
  3. It is instant, can be quickly crafted, sent and shared.
  4. It is relatively inexpensive.
  5. With the right tools the messages can be written ahead of time and then “scheduled” for delivery.
  6. One person can manage it.
  7. Most text messages GET READ!

Here is a case study done by one of my favorite websites (churchtechtoday.com) highlighting Palermo Church which found great benefit from a texting strategy. Read through their journey and see if your church might be in a similar position to take advantage of such a technology.

Application/audience

One of the texting solutions mentioned in the case study is SendTree. Their pricing seems very reasonable and within reach of most congregations. Their smallest package cost $9 a month and then 3 cents per text or voice for up to 250 contacts.

Some of the possible uses of a texting solution could be:

  1. Announcements that perhaps didn’t make the bulletin or after service sharing or just need more emphasis
  2. Quick notification of event changes or cancellations
  3. Quick devotional thoughts or prayer requests
  4. Encouragement to attend upcoming events
  5. Follow up thoughts or applications from sunday sermon or readings
  6. Create smaller groups of recipients and use texting to inform or encourage them (teens, ladies, moms, small group Bible study, Sunday School teachers, etc.)

Related resources

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480 – Backing Up

This week on WELSTech, Martin and Sallie share both inspiration and suggestions for keeping your important photos, documents, music, presentations, sermons, and lesson plans safe for years to come. Tim Plath chats with Sallie about Area Lutheran High Schools Online, and the focus on Ministry Resources continues with a look at two wonderful archives: 1) Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary essays and 2) WELSTech photos from last year’s challenge.

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The discussion:

Better safe than sorry – The WELSTech discussion turns once again to the important topic of backups. Martin and Sallie share their backup strategy and favorite hardware and software and cloud solutions for backing up important files.

The interview:

Distance education – Tim Plath, principal of Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School, recently sat down with Sallie to give us an update on the Area Lutheran High Schools Online (ALHSO) program. Tim serves as chairman of the ALHSO Board, and he shared news of the popularity and growth of the program as well as a vision of possible future enhancements.

News in tech:

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching YouTube playlist is Michael Jr: Know Your Why.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 481 – Get ready for a flood of great tech-in-ministry ideas on the next episode of WELSTech. It’s community feedback week! Release date: Wednesday, January 25.

Get involved:

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File

The Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay file (housed in the WLS Digital Library) makes available many of the essays and senior thesis written by seminary students and faculty over the years on hundreds of historical and theological topics. The broader “digital library” collects, preserves, and distributes digital theological materials beyond just essays. Truly a synodical and theological treasure for those doing research on many different topics. At last count there were over 4,000 documents, audio and video files there.

Using an open source software product called Duraspace the seminary has created a well organized and easy to search repository. The documents contained there are in PDF format and have all been indexed so the body of the document can be searched, in addition to the title and relevant metadata. The result is a super useful collection of works preserved for research or just interesting reading.

You can browse by “collections” (essays, senior thesis, audio files), date of publication, authors, title and subject. Search however is the star of the show. Since everything has been indexed, it is likely that whatever search term you enter will net relevant results that can then be further filtered by the categories listed above. The “essays” in the file typically are treatments of historical events, while the “senior thesis” mostly deal with theological topics, but not exclusively.

It should be noted that the archive does contain a disclaimer that the works offered there do not necessarily represent the position held by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod or Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Application/audience

The essay file could be a useful resource in any number of situations:

  1. The source or a source for a Bible study subject
  2. Personal research on a particular theological topic of interest (i.e. infant baptism, the antichrist, close communion, prayer fellowship, role of men and women, the differences between WELS and LCMS, etc.)
  3. Answers on practical theological topics like communion for alzheimer patients, dealing with suicide, or ministering to those struggling with same-sex attraction.
  4. Research into many historical events or church histories.

The file is open to anybody, but probably of special interest to pastors, teachers, staff ministers or others leading bible studies. Church historians also might find useful information about their particular church.

Related resources

Briefer treatment of many of the same theological topics can be found in the WELS Topical Q&A. These shorter resources are based on questions asked from visitors to the website of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod – WELS.net.

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Free Stock Photography from WELSTech

The WELSTech Challenge Album is a collection of 1,000+ royalty-free, high-resolution photos which were donated by WELSTech listeners for use in ministry. The album is hosted on Flickr and searchable using the term welstechphotochallenge coupled with other specific search terms. The album includes images representing all parts of the church year (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Confirmation and more), school, outreach, food, and seasons of the year.

Application/audience

These images are helpful to any congregation, school or individual who wants to share the love of Jesus with the world using any means of communication! With the rise of visual communication, the images can be used for all types of print and web communication including web sites, e-mail, social media, bulletins, newsletters, school projects and more.

Related resources

Looking for more quality stock photography for your ministry project? Check out these free options:

Watch this video for a quick overview of the WELSTech Challenge Album.

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479 – Social Media in Ministry: YouTube

Your ministry likely has, or will have, video to share in 2017. Listen in on a WELSTech discussion of the whys, whats, whos, and hows of using YouTube to get your videos played, talked about, and shared. There’s also coverage of some of the “wow” of CES, a pulsing pick of the week, and an in-depth look at the Minneapolis Institute of Art Martin Luther exhibit.

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The discussion:

All about YouTube – In this era of visual communication, the popularity of the video hosting platform YouTube has raised it to the status of the second most popular search engine. And while many may not realize YouTube has a social side to it’s personality, it can be a great place to connect and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

News in tech:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching YouTube playlist is Always With You featuring MLC Professor David Scharf from Your Time of Grace.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 480 – Tim Plath, chairman of Area Lutheran High Schools Online, talks with Martin and Sallie about the online learning platform, plus we discuss tech backup strategy for the new year. Release date: Wednesday, January 18.

Get involved: