What’s in your toolbox :: Part Deux
In the last edition of Channels we learned about communication tools that spanned the gamut. From electronic newsletter services to blogging and file organization, we looked at a good sampling of communication essentials. In this follow up edition, we’ll look at resources for live streaming, media editing and project management.
As mentioned in part one, this is merely a sampling of tried and tested tools you can use to keep up to speed with today’s technology. As churches and non-profits, I know we’re looking for tools that are affordable and if we can find them–free.
I’d love to hear about what you’re using. Send me a message or share a link online–let’s help one another out in swimming through this sea of information!
Video + Conference Calling
Shrinking budgets just don’t have room for lots of travel. We have multiple roles and sometimes that requires us being on the go with our laptops and smartphones close by. But being mobile doesn’t mean you need to be out of the conversation. Skype and Google are the most popular for free video chatting and conference calling–just be sure the people you’re calling have a free account, too. Oovoo isn’t as well known, but it’s a great option if you’re interested in doing community video chats. You can even embed a video chat room on your blog or website–perhaps a virtual bible study?
For those of you who didn’t attend the Special Called Session this past March, you may have seen the options to view the stream of the day’s events [http://www.livestream.com/pnwumc]. If you’ve got a decent video camera, reliable internet connection and a person to oversee the recording/streaming, you’re set. Perhaps this is another way to wittiness to the community? Both Livestream and Ustream offer free accounts, but they do come with ads. Depending on how much control you’d like of the look and feel and archiving options on your account, both are great options.
Time + Task management
Though we can’t stop or add time to our day, we can at least try to manage it with these tools. All are cloud-based, meaning you can log in and accesss the info online, just like you could your email. These tools make it easy to schedule meetings and gatherings with a larger group. Each person can enter their availability for a specified time period, and after all entries are in, you have a big picture of what works for the whole group. Definitely helps with double booking!
Sometimes keeping a calendar or a to-do list just isn’t enough. That’s where these tools come in. Keep yourself or a ministry team on task by seeing who’s working on what. You can upload files, create timelines and set reminders.
Now that podcasts and videos are becoming commonplace in our ministry settings, it’s nice to know that there are free tools available to edit these works. Not everyone has the luxury of a Mac with iMovie and Garageband.
Social media management
You tweet. You facebook. Here’s how to monitor, respond and more in the same space. Sync your facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Myspace and foursquare all in one spot. It’s grand not having 6 tabs open on your browser!
Analog stuff [non-digital]
Lastly, we can’t forget that not everything is digital. For those who don’t have the resources for staff to help with printing needs, consider the following very low cost (and sometimes free) resources that help snazz up your print material and move you into the 21st Century.
Sophia Agtarap is a graduate student in theology at Seattle Pacific University and has a background in education and digital media and communication. She is the Director of Outreach at First Church, Seattle. She is usually spotted drinking soy lattes with her apple devices within arm’s reach. Follow her on twitter at @SophiaSPU, the church @FirstUMCSeattle.