490 – Scrambled Eggs with a Side of Equity

The week’s edtech focused WELSTech episode features ideas for assisting students with broadband Internet access in their homes, the opportunity to host a movie theater screening of the new Luther movie, a new computer science curriculum for middle schoolers, a design tool for the church and school office, and some tasty(?) robotics.

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The discussion:

Jason Schmidt, Technology Coordinator for Bennington Public Schools near Omaha, NE and one of WELSTech’s Semi-Regular Classroom Technology Correspondents, is just back from a exciting weekend of First Steamworks competition from First Robotics. Check out The Blue Alliance for live streamed competition videos.

Broadband equity for students – While Martin enjoys a little family time, Jason and Sallie discuss the topic of digital equity. Students inability to access the Internet via a broadband connection in their home environment can be caused by economic factors as well as lack of coverage in rural location. This inequity has been identified as a difficult challenge impeding technology adoption for K-12 students in the New Media Consortium K-12 Horizon Report 2016. We take a look at programs to assist with meeting this challenge.

WELS now:

Learn how your congregation can host a movie theater screening of the new Martin Luther movie, A Return To Grace.

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Promevo TV featured this Head to Head: Asus C302 vs. Samsung Chromebook Plus. Who wins!? video review, a new addition to the WELSTech Product Demo YouTube playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 491 – Pastor Stephen Daly shares his experience with the Bullet Journal, the analog system for the digital age. Release date: Wednesday, April 5.

Get involved:

Avery Design & Print

Let’s face it – ministry isn’t always glamorous! At times it even requires us to roll up our sleeves and get dirty in the church and school office. Eeek!!

Even though that introduction is intended to make you smile, it is true that many ministry initiatives include a component which starts in the church or school office with design and printing of resources such as bulletin and newsletter inserts, and decorations for special services, events, or celebrations. Often it is the desire to print multiple copies of a design on the same page. The most common need which comes to mind is mailing labels. While labels are often creating in Word processing software, those mail merge features can be intimidating and time consuming.

That’s why I like to use the Avery Design & Print Online site for mailing labels and much more. The creation tools are very easy to master, and there are advanced features as well, such as the ability to …

  • control font selection, size and color
  • add curved text
  • import files for mail merge
  • add a generated QR code
  • upload your own graphics

Don’t feel you’ll be limited simply to “grandma’s” old mailing labels, however! Avery has label templates of all shapes and sizes. Design one item in the desired dimensions, and it is automatically replicated on the entire page. Want to customize each one? Switch from the “Edit all” mode to the “Edit one” mode, and customize to your heart’s desire.

Application/audience

This tool would be helpful to anyone tasked with creating print resources for a church or school. You may use it with or without the actual label sheets selected. Avery doesn’t know whether those labels are in your printer when you print your work at the end of the process. Printing on plain paper is just file. You may even download your final design in PDF format, and skip printing all together.

To get started, visit Avery Design & Print Online. When prompted create a free account and save your credentials for use each time you visit the site. An added benefit of setting up an account is you may save your creations to your Avery account for free.

Related resources

If browser-based software is not your pleasure, check out these additional software options for Avery Print & Design.

In addition, Avery offers to professionally print your designs for you with their WePrint service. To encourage you to try it out, they’ll give you $10 off your first order with coupon code Print10.

This overview video will get you up-to-speed with Avery Design & Print Online in under 3 minutes!

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489 – Showered With Community Feedback

This week WELSTech hosts Martin and Sallie take time out from wedding showers to share some great community feedback. There’s lots to learn – from Google news to electronic giving to several sites for learning math. Apple’s latest announcement may have you seeing red, MLC invites you to tour Luther land, and Sallie shares a video gold mine.

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The discussion:

Community chatter – This week Martin and Sallie share the latest news and discussions on the WELSTech social scene.

News in tech:

Apple’s iPad upgrades makes it cheaper and faster that the iPad Air 2

WELS now:

Celebrate Reformation 500 with Martin Luther CollegeConsider a 2018 Tour of Luther Lands

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

WELS Video On Vimeo

Featured video:

From the Google Plus Office 365 Schools discussion, we learn more about FluidMath, Tablet and Interactive Whiteboard Math Software, a new addition to the WELSTech Product Demo playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 490 – Jason Schmidt joins Sallie for what promises to be a lively edtech discussion. Release date: Wednesday, March 29.

Get involved:

WELS Video on Vimeo

No one would argue with the fact that video is becoming more prevalent in Internet communication. In fact, a recent study indicates that the average consumer watches 49 minutes of social video every day, and that number is expected to grow. Another study projects that by 2019, 80% of Internet traffic will be video. Perhaps now, more than ever, we might be inclined to agree with this 1964 statement by Marshall McLuhan –

“The medium is the message.”

in the sense that the medium of video is becoming an expectation of online communication if a message is to be heard.

Application/audience

But video creation takes time and strategic thinking. To support and supplement congregation and school needs in this area, WELS offers a collection of 1,100+ videos which can be shared via social media and embedded on church and school web sites. These videos are available on the Vimeo web site at vimeo.com/wels. Video topics include …

and more. The video below gives a brief overview of the site and includes a demonstration of how video can be easily shared and embedded.

Related resources

In addition to the Vimeo hosting platform, WELS videos are also available on YouTube at youtube.com/user/welsstreams.

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488 – From Pork to Palms

Pictures have always been a part of ministry. Throw in digital images AND social media and you have powerful tools to share the gospel. Join WELSTech this week for our continuing series on Social Media in Ministry with a look a two popular photo sharing sites: Flickr and Google Photos. As a bonus, you’ll also hear about upcoming WELS events, Martin’s new “macro” macro lens and help writing God’s Word on your heart.

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The discussion:

Flickr and Google Photos for ministry – Perhaps not at the top of most social media list, Martin and Sallie explore the use of photo and video hosting sites, Flickr and Google Photos, in the church and school setting. View the Flickr and Google Photos for Ministry infographic.

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resource:

On My Heart – A Lutheran Memory Work Program

Featured video:

Check out Google Photos Tutorial 2016, a new addition to the WELSTech Product Demo playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 489 – Tune in for tech-in-ministry goodness of the people, by the people and for the people … on WELSTech community feedback week! Release date: Wednesday, March 22.

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On My Heart – A Lutheran Memory Work Program

Now that we are in the season of Lent, it isn’t too long before we will see our young “catechumens” stand up in front of us and share the knowledge they have acquired over the past two years. Memorization is a big part of the confirmation process, and such a special thing as we grow older to be able to recall “just the right verse” because it became “a part” of us during catechism class. Those of us who committment much of it to memory hold those explanations and verses as treasures.

Almost exactly a year ago, Sallie and I interviewed Amanda Molstad, who with her husband and a few church friends, created “On My Heart: A Lutheran Memory Work Program.” According to their website, On My Heart is:

“a memory work program designed to bring the material presented in Sunday school into the home. It is a tool to help parents add memory work into their daily family devotion time. The On My Heart program is a four-semester cycle that covers the books of the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, 60 Bible verses, and the main events of the Old and New Testament timelines.”

At it’s material core it is a set of printable, double-sided flashcards offered in both ELS and WELS versions in four different Bible translations, including the newest Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV). You simply download the version you want, print it out on cardstock, laminate them if you like, and then keep them together with a binder ring. Simple, but effective.

With the four sets that are offered kids, and adults, can commit to memory the Books of the Bible, the Catechism with Explanations, Key Bible Verses, and Timelines of Biblical Historical Events. I can imagine parents using these with kids, catechetical students, or perhaps even those in 5th or 6th grade getting ready to enter Confirmation Class. The website is nicely laid out and offers great suggestions for usage as well as easy to follow instructions. And everything is free!

The on-my-heart.com home page puts it well:

Related resources

If you are looking for other catechetical resources, be sure to check out Northwestern Publishing House’s collection at: www.nph.net/s-407-560-catechism-and-accessories.aspx. You can also find a free mobile friendly catechism published by Concordia Publishing House at: catechism.cph.org.

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487 – A Family Friendly Internet

Tune in to WELSTech this week for Sallie’s show and tell of a recent parent talk she led covering positive uses of the Internet for kids and families. You’ll also learn about an opportunity to host a theater showing of the new Martin Luther movie from WELS and be inspired for Lent by Martin’s ministry resource.

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The discussion:

Discerning hearts – Parental (and teacher) responsibilities in the digital age are like never in history with many streams of digital media available at the fingertips of our children. Sallie shares resources from a recent presentation on Positive Uses of the Internet for Kids & Families to assist with teaching children to have discerning hearts.

News in tech:

Amazon’s massive AWS outage was caused by human error

WELS now:

Host a Screening of “A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy”

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Product Demos YouTube playlist is MaKey MaKey – An Invention Kit for Everyone.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 488 – In the next installment of the WELSTech Social Media for Ministry series, we look at social photo sites Flickr & Google Photos. Release date: Wednesday, March 15.

Get involved:

Lenten Inspiration

Lent is a season filled with imagery. The cross, the upper room, palms, thorns, etc. All of them are helpful in deepening our connection to our suffering Savior as we walk with him on our own Lenten journeys. Those images are certainly something that we can use to enhance our personal or ministry related messaging on websites, blogs and social networks too. Perhaps you need an image that introduces a lenten sermon series or Bible class. Maybe for a weekly or even daily Facebook post/devotion/inspirational thought.

I’ve been getting into Instagram a lot more lately and have found it to be a great inspiration for Lenten imagery, as well as an outlet for my own creativity. For example, just go to the Instagram website in your browser or open the app up on your phone or tablet and search for hashtags. I searched for #lent2017 and found over 10,000 examples of lenten themed photos and in many cases Bible references. Lots of ideas there. Check every few days for new ones added.

If you’d like to create your own, there are also easy ways to do that. I’ve been using a wonderful little app from Adobe called Spark Post. It allows you to pick your own image or search for others, add text, and then easily post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s free and easy to use. I’ve found it to be just perfect for these little Lenten images/messages. I am jumping into my photo archives, finding an appropriate image and then applying a relevant lenten Bible passage. It’s been fun and hopefully inspiring to those who see the images.

See my screencast below where I cover searching Instagram and a quick walkthrough of Adobe Spark Post.

Application/audience

Pictures are a powerful medium, and with the proper inspiration and tools, you can take advantage of them in your online endeavours. I’d suggest considering using seasonal images in almost any digital postings you make:

  1. Sermon or Bible Study series promotion
  2. Short devotional thoughts on social media sites
  3. As a lead image in a long form blog post, similar to this one
  4. Just sharing on image sharing sites like Instagram or Pinterest where people can “like” or even better, share with their friends
  5. Change your profile picture to a seasonal image that sends a spiritual message

Related resources

Besides Adobe Spark, there are any number of image creation tools that allow you to upload your own image or find an existing one, then overlay text in creative ways. Two that come to mind are Canva and PicMonkey. Another place to find inspiration are through sites like Outreach, where you can purchase entire campaigns or program…or just search through their resources that might spark other ideas for your ministry.

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Common Sense Media

In today’s digital age, guiding children’s use of the many flavors of media available to them can be a daunting task. Not only are there challenges knowing enough about the many apps, websites, movies, and books, but it can sometimes be a pretty large hurdle to simply find appropriate media to consider.

CommonSenseMedia.org can help. The first few sentences of the mission of Common Sense Media give site visitors an idea of what to expect on the site.

Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

Application/audience

As the mission statement suggests, Common Sense Media is great for parents and teachers. In church and school settings, it would certainly be appropriate to share the site with anyone who has responsibilities involving children up to age 18. This includes Lutheran school teachers, but also may be helpful for those who lead after school care and Sunday school. The digital citizenship curriculum available from the site can be adopted by schools and has units for use in grades K-12.

Church and school communication can be used to encourage parents to explore the resources available on the site. For example, consider newsletter or bulletin blurbs pointing to Common Sense Media when movies of interest are released, reminding parents to consider the age recommendations and areas of concern identified in the posted movie review.

Watch this brief video tour of CommonSenseMedia.org to learn more about the resources available on the site.

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486 – Online Ed

This week on WELSTech Rachel Feld joins the conversation to discuss the latest developments in online and adaptive learning. Educators will want to listen on Rachel’s iPad/iPhone pick called “Duck, Duck, Moose.” Sallie is unplugging … for a day, and Martin shares a great site to get reviews of gadgets for those who are looking to plug more things in.

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The discussion:

Individualized learning for littles – Using the New Media Consortium K-12 Horizon Report 2016 as a springboard, the edtech conversation du jour is online learning, but not just for high-schoolers. Teacher Rachel Feld from Bethany in Kenosha, WI shares her 1st and 2nd grade classroom experience with online tools that adapt for individualized student needs.

News in tech:

Amazon AWS S3 outage is breaking things for a lot of websites and apps

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Celebrate Lutheran Schools Week with students from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in New Ulm, MN, We’re Happy! on the WELSTech Schools YouTube playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 487 – Tune in for a primer on positive parenting in the digital age. Release date: Wednesday, March 8.

Get involved: