529 – 500 in 2017

WELSTech closes out 2017 with a look back at some of the best of this year of 500s! From ministry resources to synod convention to paper and online planning, with two very special celebration 500 celebrations, it’s been a great year for ministry and technology.

The discussion:

The best – Relive the highlights of 2017 as Martin and Sallie look back at the things we’ve learned this year!

Favorite 500 events

Favorite ministry resources

Favorite interviews

Picks of the year

Featured video:

We close out the year with Google – Year In Search 2017.

 Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 530 – Join us for a celebration of WELSTech’s 10th anniversary. Release date: Wednesday, January 3.

Get involved:

528 – Donn Dobberstein

Christmas week on WELSTech brings talk of new ministry efforts, planning resources and a shareable Christmas Toolkit. There’s also Christmas greetings from WELS President Mark Schroeder and a beautiful Christmas hymn from the MLC College Choir. All that goodness is wrapped in warm wishes for a blessed Christmas celebration to the WELSTech community!

The discussion:

Christmas interview – Pastor Donn Dobberstein talks with Martin and Sallie about his new role as Director of WELS Discipleship.

Community feedback:

Featured video:

This Christmas week we gift you with not one but two special videos, new on the WELSTech Vimeo Like’s ListWELS Christmas Message 2017 from President Mark Schroeder

and Martin Luther College – College Choir singing All Praise To Thee, Eternal God.

 Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 529 – Wrap up 2017 with a look back at WELSTech’s best of 2017. Release date: Wednesday, December 27.

Get involved:

527 – An Example: Planning with Trello

Friends of WELSTech should be no stranger to Trello by now. It is one of our favorite project management tools. Today Martin and Sallie walk through a likely scenario of how this powerful web application could change the way you plan and execute projects. Even if you don’t use Trello, there is plenty of great conversation about arranging meetings, versatile mice, tablets, and an impressive response from Google to a very important question!

The discussion:

Working the plan – Martin and Sallie pick up with part 2 of the discussion of sample ministry event planning Trello board by demonstrating the many features which can help you track your ministry tasks on Trello. They cover due dates, checklists, images, labels, attachments, filters and more!

News in tech:

Docs.com is going away on December 15

WELS now:

  • End of year giving to WELS ministries
  • Donate as you search and shop online

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Doodle

Community feedback:

  • From Christ Our Savior in Rockford, MI, we discovered “Ok Google … How do I get to heaven?”
  • Kevin Smith from Christ in Zumbrota, MN asks about setting up transferrable Trello accounts for church council members.

Featured video:

Enjoy a Christmas addition to the WELSTech Music playlist on YouTube, Koine’s Mary Did You Know.

 Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 528 – WELSTech brings you a special episode for Christmas week featuring an interview with newly installed WELS Director of Discipleship, Rev. Donn Dobberstein. Release date: Wednesday, December 20.

Get involved:

Doodle

Picture … herding cats. Not a job I’d sign up for, and, if it were assigned to me, not a job I’d expect to complete with 100% success.

That’s the feeling that often came to mind when I needed to find a meeting time for a group of church volunteers and staff. Coordinating everyone’s availability was nearly impossible and always resulted in an avalanche of e-mail. But those days are behind me thanks to the simple (and free) social scheduling tool, Doodle!

Doodle is a web and mobile app which allows users to suggest multiple meeting times and invite the meeting participants to indicate which times will work for them. After everyone has submitted their preferences, the meeting organizer has a full view of availability and can choose the date and time for the meeting which works best for all of the participants.

The process in pictures

To get started with Doodle, you must create or sign in to your free Doodle account. After signing in, you’ll land on your Doodle dashboard where you can schedule a meeting or create a single question survey.

To schedule a meeting, start by giving it a name and location.

On the next screen, you will have an option to view the poll settings. Here you can set up various options such as limiting the number of people who can select each option.

A calendar display allows you to select multiple dates on which the meeting can be held. On the right, a link is provided to add specific time options for the meeting, if it isn’t an all-day event.

Multiple times per day selected can be added.

Finally, you are prompted to input identifying information. Doodle automatically fills in this information from your Doodle account information, but you may edit it, if desired.

When you’ve finished setup, a link is displayed which you can share via e-mail or other tools with the meeting participants. Alternatively, you may e-mail the participants from within Doodle.

The participant doesn’t have to create a Doodle account to respond to your poll. They simply type in their name and check the meeting options which work with their schedule.

After clicking Done, participants have the option to subscribe to poll updates or go back to the poll where they could change their submission, if desired.

When someone responds to your poll, Doodle sends you an e-mail to alert you to the new response.

At any time, you may return to your Doodle poll to see the responses. Whenever you are ready, typically after everyone has responded, you can click the orange “Choose final option” button at the top of the poll.

Select the desired meeting time by clicking the star in the yellow row and then clicking Done.

The poll will be closed, and a results link will display which you may share with meeting participants. Or simply e-mail out the finalized date and time for the meeting!

The great thing about Doodle is the poll set up and finalization takes less time than it took you to read this blog post. Three cheers for simple (and free) social scheduling with Doodle!

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526 – Um…Let’s Plan!

It’s time to plan again on WELSTech! Does your organization have a good handle on all it’s events for the year? What tool would be best? In December, Martin and Sallie talk through, and give examples, of excellent tools and approaches that will have you feeling better prepared than ever to take on the events of 2018!

The discussion:

Proactive planning – As the new year approaches, it seems like a good time to take a broad look at the full year of activities ahead in your church or school. Martin and Sallie share a sample ministry event planning Trello board which you may copy and modify to meet your planning needs.

News in tech:

WELS now:

Christmas concert at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

The State of Chromebooks in the Office

Community feedback:

Featured video:

Relive the Martin Luther College Christmas Concert.

 Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 527 – The big-picture planning discussion continues as Martin and Sallie demo the planning process using their master event Trello board. Release date: Wednesday, December 13.

Get involved:

The State of Chromebooks in the Office

It is no secret that Chromebooks rule the one-to-one computing space in classrooms across WELS. I don’t have exact numbers but anecdotal observations suggest that those schools who are committed to putting computers on classroom desks have gone the route of Chromebooks or have plans to do so. And it isn’t too hard to see why. They are fairly inexpensive, easy to configure with central management tools, and fast to load and operate. Yes, you still see “traditional” Windows computers and also iPads, but by volume the numbers aren’t even close.

But what about the church or school office. At least in my visits, I rarely see faculty and staff with Chromebooks as their primary computing device. The reasons for that are also obvious, or at least they used to be. Chromebooks have very little storage, they don’t allow the installation of “traditional” office type applications like Microsoft Word and Outlook, and they don’t function well if “offline” mode, so an internet connection is a must.

Those “we can’t use a Chromebook in the office because…” reasons have pretty much evaporated! Microsoft has made their Office apps web accessible. So if you get a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet from someone you can now open it, even on a Chromebook. On top of that, modern Chromebooks now allow the installation of Android apps, so you essentially get “apps” that provide Office, or many other installable programs, which improve their usability and offline capabilities.

OK. What about the storage thing? No longer an issue either. Chromebooks come with more and more storage, or SD/USB drives to do it as well. However, with the popularity of cloud storage, local storage is less and less an issue. I have a traditional computer with 500 gigabytes of storage. I hardly use any of it since the benefits of keeping things online outweigh having things “offline.”

What about connectivity requirements of Chromebooks? What if you are on a plane or someplace where the internet isn’t. While those internet dark spots are fewer and farther between, Chromebooks and their apps now do a much better job of allowing offline access to applications and files you deem important.

One other objection to Chromebooks in the office is that most of the available hardware just isn’t as well built and easy to use as “real” computers.  I’m writing this on a Chromebook, a $299 Chromebook from Acer, the R11. I’m impressed. While an 11 inch screen wouldn’t be the first choice for this fifty-something eyes, it is actually pleasant to look at, a touch screen, flips over to use in tablet mode, and it’s resolution is more than sufficient for any tasks I’ve tried on it. In addition, it comes with a built in HDMI port for easy connection to an external monitor.

While this isn’t an article about the R11, I do have to say it is a very nice piece of computing hardware. It has two USB ports (one 2.0 and one 3.0), an SD card slot, and audio jack. But perhaps the best parts of the R11 are the input tools, the keyboard and trackpad. Awesome…especially for a device that is $299. The keyboard keys have nice “travel”, is full size, and have a nice texture to them. If I have one complaint, it’s that they aren’t backlit. The trackpad is a nice size, smooth and very responsive. There are a number of configurations available including Intel versions. I’m using the slower Celeron version, but find it perfectly usable.

I’m sold. I think in most office situations, Chromebooks are viable, and in some cases preferable. They are more secure, great battery life and of course, cheaper. There are of course certain use cases that might be more challenges. I can think of serious video editing, perhaps even page layout, although there are online options for both, plus the option for Android apps. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s worth a try. The upsides are worth the look.

 

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