503 – Comparing Event Video Notes

On this week’s episode of WELSTech, Martin shares his thoughts on the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement for ministry. There’s also a post-wedding video discussion and some great tips for WELS ed tech leaders on getting started with a 1:1 initiative in your school.

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The discussion:

iPads for Ministry – Continuing the summer focus on ministry resources, Martin shares the thoughts behind his recommendation of the 10.5 inch iPad Pro.

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Featured video:

Ask the Bullet Journalist is this week’s addition to the WELSTech Instructional playlist on YouTube.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 504 – Martin and Sallie return from the long holiday weekend to talk QR codes for ministry. Release date: Wednesday, July 5.

Get involved:

iPads for Ministry

 There are many computing tools at our disposal these days. There are many types of desktop and laptop computers that most of us use. They come in all shapes, sizes and price points. Some are large and powerful. Some are lightweight and minimal. Chromebooks, MacBooks, Surfaces, and the list goes on. Then there are, of course, smartphones, that more and more people are using as their primary computing devices. This is especially true in parts of the world outside of the United States. But it is the last category of computing devices, and one brand in particular this ministry resource focuses on, iPads!

Why dedicate an entire blog post to such a narrow topic? Because I believe this particular product is both transformative, and a valuable resource in the hands of pastors, teachers and other ministry workers. I haven’t always held that belief. In fact, I had pretty much limited my iPad usage in the recent past to watching YouTube videos, brief web surfing, and checking email. Beyond that I felt that a regular laptop was much more efficient. That’s not the case today. I’m writing this blog post on what I feel could be a laptop replacement for many–an 10.5 inch iPad Pro. That is the latest in Apple’s iPad lineup, but perhaps the best device they have ever released! Here are a few of the reasons why:

  1. Form factor – At a 10.5 inch diagonal the iPad provides enough real estate for comfortable single application usage. With the upcoming iOS 11 release split screen and drag and drop will also support some light multitasking. I think that is suitable for the work of most ministry workers. While a larger screen could be helpful at times, that would infringe on one of it’s best selling points, portability. With the appropriate cover and battery life, this little device can go wherever you go. That takes productivity to an even higher level.
  2. Screen quality – This latest iPad has what Apple calls “ProMotion.” That is just Apple’s marketing term for a higher screen refresh rate. Previous iPads refreshed the screen at 60 MHz, while the new Pro doubles that. What that means is that the screen animations and movement are much more fluid and responsive. That along with a processor that in many cases is just as capable as most laptops,  you have something that most would call a laptop replacement. In fact the on screen experience is probably even better.
  3. File Management – Another thing coming with iOS 11 is a Files app…finally. Since the original iPad was launched I had been frustrated by the fact that you couldn’t get at the native file system, like you could on a regular computer. Soon you will be able to, which is a must for most knowledge workers. You’ll be able to easily access files from iCloud, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, and others through a single place. This helps you to organize the files the way you want, and find them quickly. Very helpful.
  4. Accessories – Really there is one key accesssory that makes an iPad more usable as a laptop replacement — a keyboard. While Apple’s is fairly expensive (no surprise there), it is excellent. It acts as a cover and a keyboard. The typing is accurate and smooth, and only slightly smaller than most ultra book size keyboards. It makes text entry and editing a pleasant experience. You do have to get used to no trackpad, as the screen itself is your touch interface. It was an easy transition for me, as I was used to that with my phone already. If you plan on getting an iPad Pro be sure to budget for it.
  5. Apps – Since the iPad Pro was launched a few years ago, one obvious absence has been “pro” apps. Yes, you had all the usual iPad apps, but not much for full on productivity or even media creation/editing. That is beginning to change. Microsoft has recently launched very capable Office apps like Outlook, Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, etc. In my experience they do almost everything I need from them. They are stable and work well with the touch interface of the iPad. With an Office 365 subscription you are all set for any document creation, editing or sharing you want to do.

At about $650 for the base model, plus the keyboard, you are approaching decent laptops, but essentially that is what you are buying, but in a smaller, more flexible package. Battery life is excellent. Portability is unbeatable. And the app ecosystem should meet your needs for some time to come.

Application/Audience

So having sung the praises of the hardware and software of Apple’s tablet, why would this be a fit for a ministry worker. Beyond the simple laptop replace arguement, here are a few use cases where I think it makes sense for you:

  1. For pastors I think sermon prep and delivery are naturals. Depending on how you prep, word processing and mind mapping have excellent options on the iPad. For delivery having an iPad in front of you has numerous advantages, especially if you use visuals, which can be routed right from the iPad to your projectors or screens. I watched my pastor a few weeks ago work from a laptop with the screen up in front of him. There were times that most of his face was hidden from the congregation. If nothing else it creates a distracting visual barrier. Having an iPad laying flat on the Ambo/Lecturn would virtual remove that issue.
  2. Another benefit for pastors would be usage in Bible class. Yes, you can project content on a screen with it…even wirelessly with the right hardware. But it becomes even more valuable as you have the Bible available to you, which can be searched for that one verse you know applies to the congregation, but can’t remember the exact reference or phrasing. Recently I led a Bible class using a Keynote presentation, but worked with maps and virtual fly throughs in the GloBible of Solomon’s Temple, plus other online resources that I could easily explore during the class.
  3. Teachers would I think find many use cases for a portable tablet like the iPad. Again, hooked up to an appropriate wireless setup (perhaps a topic for another blog post), the ability to walk around the classroom bring up appropriate/relevant resources would enhance most education environments.
  4. There are so many educational iOS apps, the ecosystem is rich for almost every teaching discipline. It’s not just a great tool for those teaching art, or other “visual” type subjects. Just do a bit of a search in app stores for relevant tools for your area. Better yet, reach out to the WELSTech Google Group and ask what iPad apps others have been using.
  5. Notetaking is a great application for a tablet this size, whether you use the Apple Pencil, or just use a keyboard (virtual or real). I personally use OneNote, but Apple Notes app is getting better, Evernote is still good, or even Google Keep. They all work pretty well with most forms of media at this point. To have them searchable and portable I find to be invaluable. You have notes on previous meetings, visits (member or parent visits), resources, pictures, etc. To have one place for all your inputted materials is a big win. To have it with you most of the time, even better.

There are many more scenarios where an ever present data tablet that gives as much as it gets will pay for itself. I’ve said this before, don’t scrimp on your knowledge worker/management tools. They can’t stand in the way of your ministry. They need to help you be more productive and also be a delight to use. Both those boxes are checked for the iPad Pro in my opinion.

See All Ministry Resources

502 – Be Internet Awesome

WELSTech 502 is packed with awesomeness in the form of a new digital citizenship effort from Google for middle- and upper-elementary children. Plus, Sallie has graphic organizer templates, and Martin has helpful gesture shortcuts for Windows 10. Community feedback and a mission update round out the show.

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The discussion:

Interland Flyby – Martin and Sallie look at a new release from Google, Be Internet Awesome, that boasts a curriculum and kid-friendly video game which can be used to teach all aspects of digital citizenship.

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Featured video:

From the WELSTech “Likes” list on Vimeo, watch the Summer update from our Latin American outreach efforts through Academia Cristo.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 503 – Martin shares ideas on using iPads for ministry. Release date: Wednesday, June 28.

Get involved:

Teaching Digital Citizenship

Google recently announced a free online resource geared toward middle- to upper-elementary aged children called Be Internet Awesome. The online game, Interland, as well as supporting curriculum resources, are intended to teach kids to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online.

To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.

Application/audience

The resources available on the Be Internet Awesome are suitable for use in both the elementary classroom as well as at home. Teachers may want to spend some of their summer prep time reviewing the Be Internet Awesome Curriculum which has been given the ISTE Seal of Alignment. The materials center around five fundamental topics:

  • Share with Care (Be Internet Smart)
  • Don’t Fall for Fake (Be Internet Alert)
  • Secure Your Secrets (Be Internet Strong)
  • It’s Cool to Be Kind (Be Internet Kind)
  • When in Doubt, Talk It Out (Be Internet Brave)

Additional resources for schools allow easy integration of Interland on school Chromebooks as well as in Google Classroom. There are posters and certificates and badges available as well.

Parents may want to download the Be Internet Awesome Pledge and make a family commitment to practicing safe digital citizenship.

Related resources

Check out these short video introductions to Be Internet Awesome and Interlands.

Overview

Interland Tour

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501 – Trello

With WELSTech number 500 behind them, Martin and Sallie kick off the summer with a series focused around ministry resources. This week is the popular project management tool Trello. Learn how you can manage church and school projects, as well as a wedding! Maybe even just your family vacation.

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The discussion:

What’s Changed – Martin and Sallie discuss of the many ways to tackle Project Management with Trello. The versatile tool can help you organize and move tasks through to completion, and it’s available on both desktop and mobile.

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

WELS now:

Enjoy the closing worship of the WELS Worship Conference via live stream beginning Friday, June 16 at 11:30 am Central – livestream.com/welslive

Featured video:

From the WELS Schools playlist on YouTube, check out Lakeside Lutheran’s A Capella Choir as they perform this Awesome National Anthem for the Brewers 2017.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 502 – Learn about Google’s newest edtech initiative, “Be Internet Awesome.” Release date: Wednesday, June 21.

Get involved:

Project Management with Trello

This past week I was honored to lead a workshop at the Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School Support Staff Conference. I spoke on the topic of Volunteers, basing my talk on chapter 6 of the WELSTech book called “With All Your Heart: Project Management for Churches, Christian Schools and Faith-Based Organizations.” In preparing for the talk I reviewed and revised all the chapters in the book to keep them current…and of course fix a few typos along the way. You can find out more about the book at withallyourheart.tech.

As part of the book there is a segment or two in each chapter called “Tool Time.” Some of the tools were replaced since they are no longer available. That is the way technology goes sometimes. But thanks to digital publishing and print-on-demand, it’s easy to update the content. One tool not replaced, and the subject of this ministry resource, was Trello. The Technology team in the synod has been using Trello for a few years now, and it seems like an old friend. Church and school offices, called workers and anybody who needs to manage any kind of project, would do well to give Trello a look.

Trello, in both it’s free and paid versions, provides an easy to understand but very flexible project management paradigm that will help it’s users stay organized. This digital tool allows the user to create “cards” and group them into “lists” — very much like sticky notes. The cards have a front with basic information like the card name, who can see it, and other high level information. Click the card to “flip” it and you will be able to add all kinds of task related elements — checklists, images, document attachments, custom fields, etc. The cards also support comments, which is a powerful feature used to capture ongoing dialog about the task. You can even be notified via email of card changes. Well, that’s the nickel tour on it’s functionality. Be sure to watch the video below for a visual tour.

Application/audience

In “With All Your Heart” we try to give some examples of possible projects so the principles are a bit easier to apply to real life ministry. The prototypic project is a Vacation Bible School, but many other project possibilities are discussed. What we’ve found however is that Trello can be an asset for a complex building project, a modestly complex event like VBS or a wedding, or even singular “projects” like preparing a sermon or lesson plan. This sample VBS Trello board will give you an idea of how a project might be set up. Click on a few cards to explore sample resources. With the functionality available on a Trello board, it can serve as the only project repository and documentation you need.

Related resources

There are any number of helpful resources if you want to dive a little deeper into Trello. Here are a few:

See All Ministry Resources

500 – 500 … And Counting

This week we observe WELSTech’s milestone recording of episode 500 with a history making interview. For the first time in 9+ years, Martin and Sallie are in the interviewee chairs as Nicole Balza questions the WELSTech co-hosts about the show history and future. Pastor Mike Hinz also drops by to share information on WELS Daily Devotion. Let the celebration commence!

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The anniversary celebration:

Together with WELSTech – The 500th episode of WELSTech is cause for celebration, including a refreshed website design thanks to webmaster Julie Duran, along with updated music and video imagery. There was even delicious cake shared at the Center for Mission and Ministry.

In the recording studio, episode 500 seemed like the perfect time to break new ground on WELSTech by having the interviewers (Martin and Sallie) become the interviewees. Nicole Balza, host of the Together and Heart to Heart video series, is in the driver’s seat and explores a bit of WELSTech history, the community that has grown around the show, favorite memories, and a look at the future of WELSTech.

The interview:

Reaching out with Daily Devotions – Pastor Mike Hintz, director of WELS Commission on Evangelism, shares the history of WELS Daily Devotions as well as a behind the scenes overview of production of the written and podcast versions of the devotions whose archives are over 3,900 strong and growing.

Featured video:

From the WELSTech “Like’s” list on Vimeo, enjoy Martin Luther College Choir’s performance of I Will Rise.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 501 – Join Martin and Sallie for the kickoff of the WELSTech summer focus on Ministry Resources. Release date: Wednesday, June 14.

Get involved: