Category: Technology and learning (Page 1 of 5)

Technology can overshadow what we do, which is not good. When harnessed in service of an objective, technology is nothing more than a tool–and we all know how useful a good tool is. In this category, we focus on using technology to enhance learning.

Free Webinar for Pastors, Group Leaders, Teachers, and Church Volunteers


It’s not news that churches suddenly had to go online a year ago or lose the ability to connect with their people and serve a hurting world. Many of us did exactly that, and you may now be having two reactions.

  1. I’m so glad we can get in-person again and leave this whole Zoom thing behind!
  2. I’ve been doing this for a year. I know what I’m doing.

Either of those may cause you trouble!

  1. Zoom and its cousins (like Microsoft Teams and Google Meets) are not going away any time soon. People have found they can connect without having to spend time and money on travel. Plus, there’s a whole population of people “out there” we can’t reach with our existing technology (and by that, I mean our church buildings and the way we’ve been doing things for a long time).
  2. You may have heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” It’s wrong. The reality is, practice just make permanent. If you have been trying to do on Zoom just what you had been doing in your classrooms and pulpits, you are probably not using the new medium in the most useful way. It’s like doing a TV newscast with just a radio announcer reading the news on camera.

The most important factor in an engaging meeting is YOU—and by that, I mean the sense of your presence, a human being people can relate to. There’s a reason the gospel spread person to person. There’s a reason just handing people a tract does little good. Most people will not visit a church unless someone invites them, and they come because a person made them feel welcome.

Zoom can do that. But not the way most of us have been using it.

This Thursday (yes, that soon!) you have the opportunity to attend a FREE webinar to help you make what you’re already doing even more effective. It’s called “Online Presence: Engagement Beyond Worship.” We will cover topics such as:

  • Why do we need to use Zoom differently?
  • How do I hold the attention of students?
  • What should I do besides talk?
  • What can I do about Zoom fatigue? (Hint: there’s no such thing.)
  • How do I protect the group against disrupters while maintain an open, welcoming atmosphere?
  • How do I get a virtual background looking good without spending an arm and a leg?
  • How can I foster a sense of group identity?

We will cover all that and more. Join us at 2 p.m. OR at 7 p.m. Each session will be live, not a repeat, so we can speak directly to your concerns.

Seats are limited, though, so grab yours now!

Register for the 2 p.m. webinar

Register for the 7 p.m. webinar

Questions! Email us.

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A social media lesson learned: slow down

Big Hairy Deal

This started out to be a “no big hairy deal” thing–and it really still is. But I have once again been presented with a “lesson,” and I’m going to out my own stumble to share with you, just in case it’s useful.

First, let me acknowledge that, once again, I have been absent from the blog for quite some time–haven’t been in here since May. Life circumstances have changed in such a way that it is inevitably affecting me professionally, and I will make another post about that. Suffice it to say that both my writing and my speaking will change drastically, and while I will still publish to help you be more effective at communicating in your daily life, my approach is going to have to change. But, as I said, that’s for another post.

Now, back to our regular post:


My lesson started out with a simple enjoyment of a Facebook post from writer Jena Schwartz. Continue reading

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Your listeners want to remain alive and engaged

I’ve heard for years from people seeking advice on making their slideware more effective. Slides are not the most important aspect of a talk, but handled incorrectly (and probably 90% of them are), they can suck all the impact right out of a speech or a classroom lecture. With just a few guidelines, though, you don’t have to be a PowerPoint superstar to harness its power to give “out loud” more punch.

We have released a free video called PowerPoint CPR that gives you nine simple steps to follow to put you way above the “normal” in creating slide decks. And who wants to be normal in that regard?

Get your video here.

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To split or not to split: keeping separate Twitter identities

Secret Identity

Note: this post mirrors one I posted on the PSCC Mobile Fellows blog. I think it will interest this audience also.

Brandon Ballentine and I talked about this a bit on an episode of our new podcast, Mobile Talk. (Promotional bit: you can subscribe on iTunes or via RSS feed, or look at the Podcast category for past episodes.) Twitter can be quite a useful tool for sharing information among colleagues and students, and there are a number of mobile tools for managing it. (My favorite is Hootsuite, available for iOS and Android.)

There is a practical question for teachers, though: do you maintain a separate account for professional-interest tweets, or do you simply tweet as yourself from one account for everything you’re interested in? Continue reading

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Hard to break instincts for social media

Outraged baby

I’m a trained journalist. But I almost got sucked into one of those outrages that get passed around Facebook even when they are wrong.

I think it’s very similar to what James Altucher calls “outrage porn,” where people get a high from being outraged, and feed it back and forth among themselves. We (I) like to think we’re above that sort of thing, but it’s so easy to get pulled into it, especially when we pick it up from someone we know and trust–but they can get pulled in also!

I don’t want to add to the spread of a falsehood, so I’m not going to link to the original piece. But for context, I need to tell you my friend linked to a story that claimed Illinois just quietly made it a felony to record police in the course of their duties without their consent. In light of the increased reporting of police abuse, of course any suggestion that such a law passed would lead to outrage.

(Note: whether police abuse is, in fact, increasing or what the causes might be have nothing to do with this post.)

The link also includes a petition to the governor countering this, which at this writing has reached nearly 35,000 signature out of 50,000 needed.

This kind of thing outrages me, and I had my finger on the mouse button to repost it to all my Facebook friends. But something told me to look into it a little further.

I’m glad I did.

Not only is there no truth to the outrage article, but it’s actually the opposite: the old law could have been twisted to make recording police carrying out their duties illegal.

The new law isn’t perfect–opponents quite rightly fear that it weakens the requirement that police obtain a warrant before recording suspects. But as far as whether you can legally record police at work without their permission (and what cop abusing his authority is going to give permission?)–the new law actually makes it clear that you can do so without fear of prosecution, at least for that “offense.”

For the record: it’s legal in all 50 states to record police carrying out their public duties. That doesn’t mean you won’t get in practical trouble if you do so. After all, by definition an abusive cop isn’t following the law. What’s one more abuse? For that reason, a lot of people have begun using apps that stream the recording to someplace in the cloud as the video is being taken–there have been too many reports of police illegally confiscating cell phones and cameras and deleting files or even destroying the devices. If it’s already on the cloud, then the evidence is preserved.

In any case: I am reminded once again of the wisdom of pausing, checking things out before passing them on, etc. Social media has not changed this human tendency to outrage, but it has made it exponentially easier to react emotionally before logic has a chance to ask questions.

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The real advantage of social media: it makes it easier to ask for info

Tin Can Phone

Yesterday I worked with a colleague from the college on a new podcast for faculty using emerging technology in higher education. I really love what doing something like that does for my own mind. The cliché (which is true, even if cliché) is that to really learn something, teach it to someone else. Because we were putting together something to teach others about social media in education, it has changed the way I’m looking at social media myself. Continue reading

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Internet vermin find a new way to annoy

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but I know a friend of mine was hit today, and it occurred to me how easy it would be to work this particular scam.

She feared she had been hacked, changed her password on Facebook and warned all her friends to change theirs, just in case.

Of course, changing passwords frequently is always a good idea, and certainly won’t hurt anything. It’s just that this particular scam doesn’t require anything but social engineering, and maybe not even that. Continue reading

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Getting what you want from Facebook friends

No, this is not about manipulation. A real-life friend was expressing frustration at some of the stuff she has to see from friends on Facebook that make it not as fun as it used to be. She doesn’t want to leave, and doesn’t want to unfriend people over a few posts, but it gets old, doesn’t it?

This isn’t an exhaustive treatment of such things, but here is one way of sort of controlling the flow.

If you hover over a friend’s name in your FB stream, you will get a little window with a couple of buttons associated with your friend. One of them is a drop-down menu labeled “Friends.” Click that.


Then click on the settings link.


You can choose what kind of updates to include. I’m not sure I’m not sure how FB determines “only important,” but it sure cuts down on the posts you see from that person. You can also choose “all updates,” which may change your mix at least to slant toward people who post less irritating material. You can also unclick certain things–I tend to turn off “Games” on everyone, for instance.

You can also use the Social Fixer addon to sort certain friends’ posts into their own tabs. That makes it easier to control–you can read that friend’s posts in a batch when you feel up to it, or just mark all of them “read” without having to actually read them. It has a little higher “geek” factor, though, so I will save that for another post.

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Before you reach Plan D

Presenting naked

A participant in a recent program on “PowerPoint CPR” asked me how I prepare for equipment failure. Irma Perry, a former Toastmasters International Director, put it this way: “I wondered if you come prepared with ‘extra’ equipment, in the event of equipment failure — been there done that, but used ‘paper handouts’ as I didn’t have extra equipment.”

Good question, because it’s bound to happen, isn’t it? My wife hates it when I talk about Murphy’s Law, but I consider it a positive thing: if you recognize the reality of Murphy’s Law, you plan to overcome its effects.

My definitive answer: it depends. Continue reading

photo by: JoshuaBloom
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