Inaugural Technology Education Day creates ‘digital evangelists’

 Some 100 representatives from diocesan parishes, schools and ministries gathered at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt Nov. 19 for the diocese’s first Technology Education Day.

   Organized by the diocesan Office of Information Technology in partnership with the Office of Communications, the daylong conference aimed to connect attendees with information and tools to help them to effectively evangelize in the digital age.

   “I get a lot of questions that I don’t have all the answers to,” explained Kory Hopkins, diocesan director of IT. “As I said [during opening remarks], asking a systems administrator about social media is like asking an endocrinologist about neurology. I can take a guess, but you’re better off asking an expert. That’s why we brought everyone together here — to give them access to experts and people who have done projects well.”

   In response to the types of questions Hopkins most frequently receives, the conference offered two tracks of courses: one geared toward parishes and ministries and one tailored for schools professionals. Presenters — experts from the diocese and its partner organizations — covered a variety of topics and tools, including social media best practices, developing mobile apps, emerging technologies in education and lessons learned from developing and launching an enhanced website and social media presence. The full schedule can be found at techday.syrdio.org, along with presenter bios and links to videos of each presentation (available Nov. 20).

   Debra Krisher, minister for adult enrichment at St. Augustine’s Church in Baldwinsville, attended Tech Day with an eye toward learning how to better use the parish’s website and social media to reach out to adults in her parish. Currently in the process of helping to launch a new parish website, Krisher said the more important lessons she took from the day were the importance of consistency of messages across digital platforms and “not to be afraid to use social media and to engage in conversation.”

   Amanda Hopkins, principal of St. Margaret’s School in Mattydale (and wife of organizer Kory), also learned some important lessons about social media, specifically how all the platforms can be tied together. Also informative were the sessions “looking at the different tools to implement one-to-one systems for students,” she said.

   Kory Hopkins said the response to this first conference was “overwhelming,” and that he’d love to see it grow, perhaps into a seminar series or more daylong events. He’d also like to bring future sessions to other regions of the diocese. Danielle Cummings, assistant chancellor and director of communications, agreed.

   “[IT and Communications] will continue to work together to offer this annually in order to encourage all parishes and ministries to become digital natives,” she said. “We have to use the current tools of the day in order to share the message that Jesus loves us and in order to become true evangelizers in the Diocese of Syracuse.”

 

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