WELSTech declares September “meeting month.” We’ll take a different angle on meetings each week to help all of us be better meeting managers and get the most out of our meetings. We are also back with all of your favorite segments including “WELS Now” where we identify some real ways you can get involved with Harvey relief. Sallie shares some awesome PowerPoint templates for teachers, while Martin does the same for Camtasia users.
Season opener – Along with the new school year, Martin and Sallie are excited to return to the regular WELSTech schedule. New this season will be a month-long focus on a discussion topic relating technology to ministry. First up is everyone’s favorite … meetings. Well, at least meetings should be everyone’s favorite by the time we finish our September discussions!
https://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/meetings.jpg36485472Sallie Draperhttps://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/000welsTechLogoEnfoldnew.pngSallie Draper2017-09-05 17:56:582021-09-21 12:42:43513 – A Month of Meetings
In today’s education space, it’s hard to have a discussion without the acronym STEM or STEAM being injected. And whichever side of the debate you fall on – including Arts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grouping, or not – all would agree that an emphasis on teaching students the basics of programming across all grade levels is moving toward broad adoption by schools. Challenges to adoption are introduced, particularly at lower elementary levels, where teachers already span multiple disciplines and may not have confidence to teach areas with heavy technical emphasis.
Code.org recently released a new K-5 Computer Science curriculum to help with this need. The Computer Science Fundamentals Courses A-F includes interactive graphical lessons in the Blocky coding environment, an offshoot of MIT’s popular Scratch environment. Lessons start with pre-readers manipulating arrow icons to build a set of commands which moves a popular Angry Bird character to pounce on the enemy Pig character. In the process, kids are improving critical thinking skills and learning coding concepts such as algorithms (a fancy word for instructions), sequencing, conditionals, and functions.
But the curriculum is not all about online lessons. There are a long list of “unplugged” activities for teaching these same concepts. From planting a seed to binary bracelets to songwriting, the unplugged activities are geared to get students out of their seats and using coding skills in concrete ways. The entire curriculum, included detailed lesson plans for the unplugged activities, is available in this 350 page PDF document.
Code.org doesn’t stop there, however. The most exciting piece of the puzzle for teachers is the excellent professional development resources available for those who want to learn to teach computer science with this curriculum. They offer free one day workshops for K-5 teachers which …
‘provide an intro to computer science, pedagogy, overview of the online curriculum, teacher dashboard, and strategies for teaching “unplugged” classroom activities’
If you cannot make it to a workshop, they offer the same concepts in an online self-paced course. Teachers not only learn the basics of Computer Science, but they also get to test drive the online programming modules that the students will experience. And, if your enquiring mind is wondering, yes, there are Angry Birds for teachers too!!
What better way to STEAM into the new school year than with the free resources from Code.org.
WELSTech concludes our summer long focus on Ministry Resources with a toolkit for all of you who do presentations. Who doesn’t anymore? Take the stress out of the technology and focus on your content with these helpful tools and tips. Plus, Martin shares his video creation tool of choice, and Sallie fumbles a title, yet again!
On the road with confidence – Presentations can be stressful enough without concerns of projection, sound, and internet access. Martin shares the contents of his Portable Presentation Toolkit in our final Ministry Resource of Summer 2017.
Many of us do more than a few “presentations” both where we work and at times in situations where we don’t have a lot of control over the presentation technology available to us. That could be at a conference we are asked to speak at, perhaps a workshop or Bible study. Over the years I’ve found that the stress of giving a presentation shouldn’t be heightened by the unknowns of projectors, cables, internet and audio capabilities, especially if you prefer to use your own computer for the presentation. So I have developed a presentation “toolkit” that I never leave the office without.
Perhaps the most important component of my portable presentation toolkit is cables. Depending on what kind of computer you are using, your cable requirements may be a bit different, but there is still an element of the unknown because you don’t know what kind of cable is needed for the projector you will be asked to use. You also don’t know if the place where you have to connect to the cable is optimal for your presentation. For instance, I’ve been in classrooms where the cable hookup is in the back of the room where the teacher’s desk is, but I want to present from the front. That’s a problem. So cables are something I pay a lot of attention to. For my Surface Pro 4 computer I carry along:
VGA 15 Foot Extender Cable
HDMI 15 Foot Extender Cable
The extender cables really come in handy if the plug you need to hook into is not in the front of the room. This gives you a lot of positional flexibility. Cables To Go and Monoprice are great places to find these adapters and cables that will work with your setup. A nice accessory to carry around all those adapters and cables without having them float around in your bag is a Grid-It board. They come in different sizes. I love mine.
If you are lucky, you may have access to either an Apple TV or a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. These devices, when hooked up to the projector, allow you to float around the room without any wires. You just hook up to either of those two and stream your screen/presentation. Apple TV can receive the stream from your Mac or iPad, and with a software program like AirParrot 2 you can even stream from your Windows laptop. Keep in mind that to stream to an Apple TV (depending on which model it is) you have to be connected to the same network. Beware, this could be another source of stress.
One thing I do take with me is a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (MWDA). This is a USB flash drive sized device that plugs into any HDMI input. Most projectors have those these days. It does require a USB power source, which could come from an available USB port on the projector, or you could bring along your own portable USB charger (battery or wall outlet based). I like MWDAs because they don’t rely on wifi, but can connect directly to your computer. Warning, not all computers support connecting to MWDAs. They need to support the Intel WiDi standard, sometimes called Miracast. Many modern computers support this though.
Audio and Video
Not knowing what might be available in the room I’ve been given for the presentation, I always try to bring along my own speakers. Even when there is an audio cable provided, I sometimes prefer my own since I know how it will sound. Again, one less stresser. The one I use is the JBL Charge. It’s bluetooth and also has an audio-in jack. It’s small, and it has a nice size battery in it that can power your MWDA too…a great bonus!
The projector is the real wildcard in any remote presentation situations. It could be of poor quality. The bulb could go out. The connector could be bad. You know those times when you plug in and the whole screen has a green cast to it…or red…or blue. This has happened more than a couple times to me. So this may be overkill, but I always bring my own projector. If I don’t want to bring a larger one from our pool, I pack a P300 MicroProjector from AAXA Technologies. It’s only 400 lumens, but in a pinch it can be used in a dark room and project a 120 inch image. It runs on both DC or battery power. I’ve used it only a handful of times, but worth carrying along.
Often you will want to show internet web pages, apps, video or other things that require you to have a good internet connection. Don’t count on it! Countless times I’ve presented at conferences with the promise of internet and it either wasn’t available or so slow that it was unusable. Often there is internet but all the attendees are on it as well and the connection is often overwhelmed. I do always bring my cell phone to which I can “tether” my computer, but that isn’t full proof either as your phone may not have a good signal depending on the presentation room location within the building, or the area in general. ALWAYS have a plan B, which is my case is to take screen shots of any web site or app I need, and download in advance any video I’d like to play. One service I use a lot is YouTube Red, which allows you to download video to any mobile device for offline playback. So I bring my iPad along with any video I’d like to play, just in case I can’t get online or have sufficient speeds to play a video. Then I just hook up my iPad to the projector with either an html or vga dongle, or I do it wirelessly if an Apple TV is available.
One other gotcha, especially on school wifi is their content filtering software. They may have it setup to block YouTube and many other sites including social networking services. Depending on what you had hoped to share in your presentation via the internet, you may find your content blocked. Best to ask ahead of time if their network blocks certain sites critical to your presentation.
There are always going to be challenges with presenting technologies. Our job as presenters is to remove the unknowns and be able to focus on the message. Take matters into your own hands. So peace of mind is the driver here. Bringing along things like your own extension cord or multiplug might be a pain, but there will be times you’ll regret it if you don’t. The tools that I’ve mentioned above have been added to my bag over time, and there are rarely moments of panic anymore about the audio/visual technologies needed to present the materials I spent hours creating.
A new day has dawned for churches and schools wanting to add signage to their public spaces. Digital is the way to go, and it’s not hard or even expensive. On this week’s WELSTech, we discuss Google’s offering for G Suite users, as well as some cool devices that make getting your message up in lights a snap!
DIY digital signs – Churches and schools … there’s no better time to consider the use of announcement monitors in your buildings. Tune in for hardware and software tips on the Digital Signage + Google equation.
It’s back to school time at Martin Luther College which means their weekday chapel services are once again being live streamed! Find all the details at mlc-wels.edu/streams, and watch the archived opening service from August 21, 2017. We send a special shout out to one of MLC’s newest professors, installed in the opening service, WELSTech’s own Rachel Feld!!
Coming up on WELSTech:
Episode 512 – The summer of Ministry Resources is nearing its end, but not before Martin shares what makes up his portable presentation toolkit. Release date: Wednesday, August 30.
https://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cmmSign2.jpg496525Sallie Draperhttps://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/000welsTechLogoEnfoldnew.pngSallie Draper2017-08-22 15:13:062021-09-21 12:42:47511 – Signs of the Times
Announcement screen photo courtesy of Joshua Schoeneck, Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School
Digital signage provides many communication benefits in church and school settings, displaying traditional paper-based announcements on scrolling screens with visually appealing graphics. Google hardware and software solutions now provide an affordable and easily manageable option for digital signage.
Hardware required to implement the Google solution includes some type of video display with HDMI input. The video display could be a digital television or LCD monitor. You’ll also need a Chromebox or newer Chromebit. You can watch Martin unbox a Chromebit on WELSTech episode 499. Finally, to interface with the Chrome device you’ll need some type of wireless Keyboard and mouse device, such as the Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 v.2.
Calculators rule the day on this week’s WELSTech. From ministry resources to picks of the week, we have tools to help figure out compensation for called workers, and some calculators that are just plain fun.
For years churches, schools and their called workers have struggled to make sense of the official WELS salary matrix. At this year’s synod convention that all changed. The delegates approved the use of a new tool called the Called Worker Compensation Calculator. It’s really rather simple…which is the whole point. Someone can visit the calculator site at
and after entering information, see the recommended salary range for any given called worker. The calculator fields include: Name, Sex, Years of Service, Position, Year, COLA, Housing Allowance, Health Insurance, Sec 105 Employer Contribution, Long Term Disability, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Education, Responsibilities, and Other (where you can add your own components in). Once the data has been entered it provides a nicely formatted print out of the total compensation for a called worker. This can be used as a guideline, or a worksheet from which to begin compensation discussions.
In an effort to make it even easier to use, most fields have an information icon that can clicked on to learn more about that compensation component. “Smart fields” are also built into the form to give warnings when numbers entered don’t seem to make sense…for instance entering a monthly housing allowance number rather than an annual one. The calculator does all the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for you, but “shows it’s work” so you know how all the numbers were arrived at. Finally there is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section that gives some of the rational for some of the recommendations and calculations. It should be a great tool for anybody responsible for or interested in the compensation process.
This mobile-friendly calculator will be improved upon over time based on feedback. Give it a try and tell us what you think! See a demo video below for a quick walk through.
Fresh off a great experience at the WELS Synod Convention, the WELSTech team returns to their summer series of Ministry Resources. If you use Google Calendar, you won’t want to miss this one. Also, listen for some interesting uses for Trello and an exciting announcement regarding an upcoming conference in Wisconsin Dells!
Upping the Google Calendar ante – WELSTech followers will know that Google Calendar is a highly-recommended tool for collaborative management of church and school events. On today’s show, we share an online utility, Print My Cal, that enhances the printed version of Google Calendar for newsletters and bulletin boards.
Picks of the week:
Save the date for the sequel to WELSTech Conference:
Many churches and schools have adopted Google Calendar to maintain schedules for worship, events, team practice and games, parent teacher conferences, and much more. The web-based, user friendly calendaring tool is powerful enough to take on your most challenging recurring events. Plus it handles shared permissioning and calendar collaboration with ease. And it can be embedded on your web site so that calendar updates automatically display to website visitors.
There’s just one small shortcoming of Google Calendar – its print capabilities. Because churches and schools often want to share printed copies of the calendar in newsletters and on bulletin boards, the quality of the printed calendar is important.
From this need to print well formatted Google Calendars, Print My Cal was born. Print My Cal connects to your Google Calendar, allows you to format and save your print layout, and creates a downloadable PDF and/or RTF version of the calendar for editing and sharing. It does all this through your browser on any device – desktop, laptop, Chromebook, tablet, or smartphone. There’s no software to install.
If you are looking for a printing solution that lives up to all of the other great features of Google Calendar, check out the Print My Cal utility. The overview video below walks through the basics of using the site.
https://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/printerCalLayer900x700.png700900Sallie Draperhttps://welstech.wels.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/000welsTechLogoEnfoldnew.pngSallie Draper2017-08-08 12:03:212021-09-21 12:42:53Print My Cal
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