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536 – Training Techies: Church Management Software

February, designated as “training techies” month on WELSTech, continues as Martin and Sallie are joined by Peter Frank of Concordia Technology Solutions to discuss church management software. Their picks of the week have a Google theme including timers and calendars, and there’s some great community feedback.

The discussion:

Working with the church database – An important function of the church (and school) office is maintaining information on members and prospects. This is typically done using a database with a special name … Church Management Software (CMS). Most CSM solutions allow for multiple users to enter data, which is both a blessing and a responsibility for those who oversee the CSM. Martin and Sallie share tips for maximizing the effectiveness of the volunteer’s work in the CMS.

The interview:

Peter Frank from Concordia Technology Solutions shares insights on working with volunteers and Church Management Software. Peter heads the team behind two popular CMS tools – Shepherd’s Staff and Church360º Members & Ledger.

News in tech:

WELS now:

Upcoming Men of His Word Conferences

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Concordia Technology Solutions Resource Center

Community feedback:

Featured video:

New this week from the Concordia Technology Solutions YouTube channel is The Value of Tracking Church Attendance (and How to Do It!).

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 537 – Tune in for tips on equipping members to be church social media ambassadors. Release date: Wednesday, February 21.

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.

 

Related resources

See All Ministry Resources

393 – Church Office Productivity

The productive church office is a blessing to ministry efforts and the topic of this week’s WELSTech Podcast. Tune in for office apps, keyboard shortcuts, breaking WELSTech news, tips for ministering to millennials and bonus boosts to your Psychic RAM!!

The interview & discussion:

emileBurgess145x125Psychic RAM – Pastor Emile Burges from Trinity in Caledonia, WI talks with Sallie regarding his upcoming presentations at WELSTech Conference on Evernote and MailChimp. The conversation continues as Martin and Sallie share more favorite church office productivity tools.

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Ministry resources:

Bread for Beggars

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 394 – Live from the CMM … Martin and Sallie are together to tour the new WELS studio. Watch and participate on 05/26/15 @ 4 pm Central – welstechlive.wels.net

Featured videos:

This week we’ve added a MailChimp tutorial video to the WELSTech Product Demos playlist on YouTube

Get involved:

354 – A Smarter Office

Join WELSTech this week for a conversation about data management software for the church and school office. Martin shares his experience with remote control software, and listeners share comments and questions.

The discussion:

box 145x125Managing Church and School Data – In the dog days of Summer 2014, the WELSTech Wiki Migration series continues as Martin and Sallie discuss church, school and childcare management software.

Tech tips:

Picks of the week:

Of interest:

Did you know … Presenters at WELSTech Conference 2015 (wels.net/welstechconf), July 9-11, 2015 at Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center in Pewaukee, WI attend for FREE?!! We’re currently looking for presenters and tech topics of interest for our breakout sessions. Give it some thought and submit your ideas!

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 355 – We continue our tour of the church and school office with a look at hardware and software, productivity techniques and electronic giving on our next summer wiki migration special episode. (Broadcast date – 08/19/14)

Featured video:

This week we introduce the new WELSTech Product Demos YouTube playlist, and we’re seeding it with not one, but two, useful demo videos:

 

 

Get involved:

289 – Minding Your Members

Today on WELSTech we look at online, collaborative solutions for managing member and prospective member information. Sallie kicks off her very own picks of the week series geared at summer vacation, and we debut a brand new promo video for the upcoming WELSTech Camp event. All that, and the answer to your burning questions about Martin’s jet lag as well!

The discussion:

Software to manage your church – Keeping up with information about members and prospective members can be a huge job for church pastors, secretaries and volunteers. Now many software solutions are moving to the cloud for online sharing or data updates and inquiries. Martin and Sallie discuss a variety of considerations including, most importantly, security of your data.

The interview:

(10:29) Church in the cloud – Peter Frank, Manager of Concordia Technology Solutions, talks with Martin and Sallie about one of their newest products, Church360: Members, a full-featured online church membership database. Watch for a look inside a demo installation.

News in tech:

(30:39) Google+ gets a feature-packaged redesignTips for navigating the new Google+ stream

Picks of the week:

Of interest:

(43:51) We hope you enjoy our promo video for the first ever WELSTech Camp unconference.  Join us September 14th at Martin Luther College. For details and tickets for this free day, visit our event wiki.

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(49:11) Episode 290 – What’s on your learning bucket list? Tune in next week as Martin, Sallie and guest host Jason Schmidt share ideas for kicking that particular bucket (list). (Release date – 05/28/13)

The featured artist:

(50:01) We close the podcast with the music of Corban Creek – Psalm 46

Get involved:

256 – It Is All About The Data

This week on WELSTech we countdown the 7 Best Data Management Tools and Tips to handle your church, school, day care or prospect list. We also share some good news about making files available in Facebook…via Dropbox.

The discussion:

Countdown time – Church and school office workers are tasked with maintaining a lot of information so Martin and Sallie share some proven tools for effective management of members, prospects and students.

  1. Daycare and After School Care management
  1. Contact management
  1. Do-It-Yourself solutions
  1. Spreadsheets
  1. Online forms for data submission
  1. Student information systems
  1. Church management software

Coming up in November … 7 Best Video and Webconferencing ToolsShare your favorite tools for video creation and connecting with others.

Ministry resources:

(22:25) Prayer Notebook | Prayer Notebook Lite for iOS

News in tech:

(25:29) Stunning undersea panoramas now on Google Street View

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(45:15) Episode 257 – We continue the current WELSTech book discussion of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, this time looking at Chapter 2. (Release date – 10/09/12)

The featured artist:

(46:35) This week we close the podcast with the music of Koine (www.koinemusic.com | Facebook) – If God Had Not Been On Our Side

Get involved:

180 – April Showers: Office Worker Resources

This week the WELSTech Podcast “April Shower” rains down all types of resources to make the church and school office run smoothly.

Our apologies for the audio quality during the last 10 minutes of today’s podcast.  We experienced technical difficulties with the recording.

Office Worker Resources

The discussion:

Raining resources for office workers – For this week’s “April Shower”, Martin and Sallie cover a long list of tools to assist the “nerve center” of the congregation and school, the office.

Ministry resources:

(35:55) Walther’s Law and Gospel is now available for Kindle

News in tech:

Contest winners:

(39:36) Concluding the Glo Bible giveaways on our personal blogs (martinspriggs.com and salliedraper.com), Martin and Sallie use random.org to pick winners.  Listen to find out if you are one of the newest Glo Bible owners.

Picks of the week:

Of interest:

(47:41) FinalWeb Training in New Ulm, MN and Milwaukee, WI

  • FinalWeb for Teachers in New Ulm on June 27 and Milwaukee on August 1 – bit.ly/fw4teachers
  • FinalWeb for Dummies in New Ulm June 28-30 and Milwaukee August 2-4 – bit.ly/fw4dummies

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(50:41) Episode 181 – The “April Showers” conclusion may turn into an April storm as Gail Potratz joins the discussion and we share a [gigantic] compilation list of teacher resources.  (Release date – 04/27/11)

The featured artist:

(51:30) We close the podcast with the music of  Branches Band (www.branchesband.com |Facebook) – Hosanna, Loud Hosanna from their “Sing, My Tongue” CD

 

Get involved:

175 – Office 2010

This week on the WELSTech Podcast Microsoft Office and Staff Minister Dan Schoeffel share center stage.

The discussion:

Is your office a Microsoft Office? – Martin and Sallie discuss the “mature” Microsoft Office suite and share links to a robust list of support resources.

The interview:

Dan Schoeffel(16:08) Tech Solutions – Staff Minister Dan Schoeffel from St. Paul’s in Onalaska, WI talks with Martin and Sallie about the various hardware and software solutions that have been implemented in his congregation and school.  From scrolling announcements in the church narthex to innovative time keeping to wise stewardship of hardware, St. Paul’s has their tech bases covered.

Ministry resources:

(32:22) Free introductory online course from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

News in tech:

(34:10) iPad 2 Reviews from Cnet

Picks of the week:

Of interest:

(40:35) FinalWeb Training in New Ulm, MN and Milwaukee, WI

  • FinalWeb for Teachers in New Ulm on June 27 and Milwaukee on August 1 – bit.ly/fw4teachers
  • FinalWeb for Dummies in New Ulm June 28-30 and Milwaukee August 2-4 – bit.ly/fw4dummies

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(50:38) Episode 176 – Alan Nolte from Fox Valley Lutheran High School shares news of their upcoming STEM Academy, and we review techie aids for memorization. (Release date – 03/23/11)

The featured artist:

(51:21) We close the podcast with the instrumental music of In His Service (www.adagioconcepts.com) – I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say from their CD titled “In His Time”

Get involved:

167 – Files, Files, and more Files!

On this episode of the WELSTech Podcast we explore many alternatives for file sharing in the church and school office.

The discussion:

NetworkManaging files in the Digital Age – Gone are the days of working solo on our pen and paper projects at the office. Now we want and need to be able to access our digital files from remote locations and easily share files with others for collaboration.  Martin and Sallie detail a variety of solutions for file sharing.

News in tech:

(16:23) iPhone coming to Verizon

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(36:50) Episode 168 – Gail Potratz joins the conversation and shares an interview she recorded with Barry Britt from Soundzabound.com. (Release date 01/26/11)

The featured artist:

(37:15) We close the podcast with the music of  Branches Band (www.branchesband.com |Facebook) – Jerusalem the Golden from their “Light Eternal” CD

Get involved:

162 – GTD Meets the Church Office

This week the WELSTech Podcast is all about Getting Things Done in the church and school office, and Staff Minister Jon Ruddat shares his productivity success story.

The discussion:

Office Productivity – Martin and Sallie share ideas for applying the personal Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity process to the church and school office using the 43 Folders technique and also ideas from Death by Meeting.

The interview:

Jon Ruddat(17:10) Star Student – Jon Ruddat, Staff Minister of Administration and Family Ministry at St. Matthew’s in Appleton, WI, was a past student in Martin’s Productivity Winterim session at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.  He shares the highlights of implementing the GTD system and some of his “Mind Like Water” moments.

Click image to view larger

Before & After GTD – Click image to view larger

Ministry resources:

News in Tech:

(40:35) Google Chrome Web Store and Pilot Chrome OS Netbooks

Picks of the week:

Christmas 2010 WELSTech Scavenger Hunt:

(49:38) Week 5 of our latest WELSTech contest is here, and we’ve hidden our “QR Code of the Week” somewhere on the WELSTech site.  Listen each week through December 15th as we reveal clues for finding 5 QR Codes which will point you to a mystery message. Following the December 15th show you can enter the mystery message for a chance to win a $25 Cafe Press gift certificate, where your WELSTech merchandise dreams can come true!  The winner will be selected from all correct entries and announced on our special Christmas week podcast airing December 22nd.

  • This week’s clue to the code location is … The Art of Productivity
  • Get the previous clues: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
  • Remember, you can use your smartphone or an online decoder to decipher the message.  Have fun!

Solve the mystery message and enter the contest by 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 20, 2010 at

bit.ly/welstechcontest

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(1:07:50) Episode 163 – Christmas week arrives as we talk with Prof. Richard Gurgel about the WELS Continuing Education program, Grow in Grace, and we select our contest winner. (Release date 12/22/10)

The featured artist:

(1:08:55) We close the podcast with the music of Michael Schroeder (www.michaelschroeder.com and on Facebook) – The Reason for the Season from his CD also titled ”The Reason for the Season”

Get involved: