In the past, we've seen many forum requests for short guides about the new LDS.org tools, sites, and applications available. Many of you occasionally teach fifth Sunday lessons focused on Church technology; others have a need to get basic information out to members in your ward or stake about these resources.
The LDS.org getting started guides page on the LDSTech wiki now has 10 one-page guides available. The guides cover Calendar, Directory, Newsletter, Lesson Schedules, Leader and Clerk Resources, My Study Notebook, LDS.org, LDS Account, and Mormon.org. There is also a Church Websites Overview guide.
In this video, various LDSTech community volunteers share what motivates them to get involved in LDSTech projects and other efforts within the community.
Most of these interviews were recorded at the previous LDSTech Conference in 2011. If you're interested in attending the LDSTech Conference this year, to be held March 28-30 in Riverton, Utah, see https://tech.lds.org/wiki/LDSTech_Conference.
Note: If the video is blocked because of the meetinghouse filter, view it here.
One of the biggest roadblocks employees run into when considering a volunteer workforce is the great burden of communication and coordination needed with volunteers. The LDS Music App team solves this problem by utilizing a church service missionary to be the primary contact between volunteers and ICS employees.
The LDS Music app gives users access to all Church-published music on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Currently, volunteers are working to get Church music transcribed for needed languages for use on the app, among other things. “They are actively involved in testing beta software, making sure everything functions right, and ensuring the content is displayed accurately,” said Elder David Sierakowski, community manager.
Hilton Campbell heads the LDS music app team as the project lead and developer. In the beginning of the project, Hilton himself coordinated with volunteers. “The burden of community volunteers can be pretty high,” Hilton said, especially with the now 174 volunteers committed to the project, and more joining every day. “It was fully consuming. It wasn’t working.”
In June 2011, the Church released Personal Video Conferencing (PVC), a software-based service that allows Church leaders to perform face-to-face meetings without the extensive cost of travel. To date, over 2,000 leaders have signed up and used the service. Although it has been primarily used for Stake Presidency and High Council meetings, additional innovative uses for this service have also been explored.
When Jo DaRosa ran into his old college friend Richard Cheung while on business in Hong Kong, they discussed the possibility of bringing together the youth from their respective congregations using Video Conferencing. With DaRosa’s congregation located in the West Columbia South Carolina stake and Cheung’s congregation being from the Hong Kong Sham Shui Po ward, PVC would allow them to connect for free using a reliable, secure service.
After obtaining the necessary authorization from their stake leaders, DaRosa and Cheung gathered the young men and women in their respective meetinghouses. Over thirty youth attended the one hour video conference. The youth were able to share an invaluable learning experience as they told stories and laughed at translation errors.
July 27, 2012 update: Newsletter is now out of beta and in full production on LDS.org. You can view it from the LDS.org Tools menu. See the help information for current details about newsletter: https://ue.ldschurch.org/ldsapphelp/newsletter.
Newsletter, a new tool on LDS.org, is now open for beta testing. Newsletter provides an interactive site that wards and stakes can use to provide local news to members. The application replaces the “News and Information” feature on the classic local unit website and provides a digital alternative to the paper newsletters that organizations typically create.
Once set up, articles for Newsletter appear in one column of news on the Newsletter homepage, arranged in reverse chronological order. Members can view the news they want to see by selecting the category on the right. The selected category filters the news.
In a recent interview with Community Business Manager Alan Smoot, Jeff Brown, a quality assurance lead for the Church, talked about his experience using a group of volunteers to beta test version 2.0 of the LDS.org calendar application released back in fall 2011. You can watch the interview as well as read a summary below.
“We wanted to get the community involved,” Jeff said, “to give us some better assurance.” Jeff and his team realized that they could not test for every scenario and in every environment. “As QA testers, we don’t understand all the scenarios; we don’t understand what people are going to do . . . and that leads to a lot of uncertainty when it comes to release time.”
The Church has released an early beta version of a new mobile app—FamilySearch Indexing—for iOS and Android platforms. You can start indexing right away by downloading the app. Just search for “familysearch indexing” in the iOS App Store or Android Market.
In order to use the app, you must sign in with your LDS or FamilySearch account. If you don’t already have an account, you can easily create one here.
Once you download the app, sign in with your LDS or FamilySearch Account.
In his October 2011 General Conference talk, Elder Bednar encouraged the youth to get involved in Family History. He said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends.” (The Hearts of Children Shall Turn)
During my high school years, my mother would take me to the family history library. She would put me in front of a microfilm reader with a list of names to look for. I tried not to fall asleep or get sick to my stomach as the film scrolled by. If I was lucky after five hours, I might find one name or a family.
Due to advancements in technology and information sharing, there’s so much more available now. When we were first married and had kids, I researched one of my family lines back to the first three land owners of Canada. As more children came and grew, I researched Denmark, taught family history as a volunteer at the Ogden Institute for five years, and now teach at genealogical conferences, blog, write articles, and act as president of the genealogy branch in my city, while I continue to do my own family history research.
Historically, clerks and other Church leaders have been required to be at their respective meetinghouse to perform administrative work because the Member and Leader Services (MLS) software could only be accessed from the clerk’s PC located at the meetinghouse. As a result, many clerks and leaders complete their administrative work on Sunday to avoid travelling to the meetinghouse during the week. Simple reports like the New Member Report can only be viewed or printed at the meetinghouse.
In order to ease the administrative burden of Church leaders, MLS functions are being added to LDS.org. Church leaders and clerks can now access records, reports, and other helpful resources from any computer connected to the Internet. This effort supports access from home or other locations, decreasing travel costs and time commitments. Making it easier for leaders and clerks to perform their administrative responsibilities will allow them to spend more time ministering to members.
Lesson Schedules, an LDS.org application that allows you to schedule lessons for priesthood and auxiliary organizations, is now in beta. Lesson Schedules replaces the old lesson scheduling features that were available on the Classic.lds.org site. Members are invited to test out the beta Lesson Schedules application and provide feedback.
You can visit the beta site for Lesson Schedules by going to https://lds.org/lesson. Log in with your LDS Account. Note that any data you enter into this beta site will be erased when the site goes live.