The Mormon Channel recently released a new program series on technology called Tech Savvy. Tech Savvy provides a fresh look on the latest technology available, how to use it, what the Church is doing with it, and ways to use it for good. Currently two Tech Savvy episodes are available:
All Things Apps - Episode 1: Elisa Scharton, Jay McFarland, and Veronica Johnson discuss the mobile apps they find most helpful. The discussion covers LDS Tools, Gospel Library, and many third-party apps as well.
Parenting in the Tech Age - Episode 2: Elisa Scharton, Richard and Linda Eyre, and Ken and Katie Craig discuss helpful tips that parents can use to keep up with their kids and teach them good ways to use technology.
You can watch the program online or download the video or audio to your mobile device and listen on the go. Each episode is about 30 minutes long. Elisa Scharton, an LDS mommy blogger, is the host of the show. The series will extend throughout the year and most likely continue after that.
If you’re in the bishopric or stake presidency, you recently received a letter highlighting the new resources available on the Tools menu on LDS.org. The Tools menu provides a suite of applications, fully replacing the old “Local Unit Website” interface.
The tools available on the Tools menu of LDS.org replaces the old Local Unit Websites.
You may be familiar with many of these tools -- the replacement of Local Unit Websites has been taking place gradually, tool by tool over the past several years.
Previously, all tools were listed at stakes.lds.org. On that Local Unit Website, the tools were listed on the left: News and Information, Lesson Schedules, Ward Calendar, Membership Directory, Leadership Directory, Missionary, and Resources. You can still access Local Unit Websites at stakes.lds.org, but there’s little reason to go there. (The site will officially be sunset later this year.)
The new version of LDS.org has a suite of tools. Think of the suite somewhat like Microsoft Office’s suite of applications – each is an individual application, whole in its own right, but with a lot of integration points between the tools.
Rather than listing the applications on the left, the applications are available from the Tools menu anywhere on LDS.org.
Going to one of the tools does not remove you from the LDS.org experience. You can still access all the other content on LDS.org, regardless of the tool you’re using.
Blaine Maxfield is the chief information officer (CIO) for the LDS Church. As CIO, he manages the Church’s ICS department (Information and Communication Services).
In his keynote at the LDSTech Conference, Blaine focused on the challenges created by the rapid growth of the Church. For example, from 2009 to 2010:
Every two minutes someone was baptized.
Every 24 hours, a new chapel was constructed.
How can we accommodate such a rapid growth in the Church without hiring a commensurate number of employees?
Blaine stressed that technology plays a role in our effort to “hasten the work,” a theme used in ICS to guide the department’s purpose. Blaine illustrated this theme with several examples. One LDSTech project involved creating a mobile application that allows senior missionary couples working in developing countries to pinpoint the location of clean water projects and update their water status. The end result of this app is that thousands of individuals can have cleaner water. This is just one example of how technology is helping build the kingdom.
The next LDSTech broadcast, “Gospel Study Using Mobile Devices,” will be held Friday, May 4, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm MST. The broadcast will be presented by David Weiss, project manager for the Gospel Library app.
How to attend
You can attend the broadcast by clicking the Watch Now button below or on the LDSTech Broadcast page during the time of the broadcast. If you live or work near Riverton, Utah, you can also come to the Riverton Office Building (ground floor, Zion room) to watch the broadcast in person.
If you can’t make the broadcast, you can rewind the broadcast controls and re-play the presentation at a later date.
If you haven’t seen the Bible Videos app yet, be sure to check out this new Bible Videos App Tour screencast:
The Bible Videos app was released last Christmas. In its initial release, the app had only seven videos. Recent releases include many new videos (there are now about 20), new storybooks, hotspots, and other features.
The Bible Videos app provides a rich, interactive experience. You can navigate 3D models of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Sychar to explore scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. When you select the city, the app zooms in and shows information and videos from the city.
Overall, the app provides an exploratory experience, not too unlike a game, that allows you to move at your own pace. There's no specific sequence to follow. By clicking blinking hotspots on the map, you can view and listen to information about that scene. When you see a door, you can click the door to move through the door.
JIRA (pronounced JEER-a) is Atlassian's project management software used by LDSTech for bug tracking, issue tracking, and task planning. LDSTech project teams use JIRA to organize and track various tasks in their projects.
Project managers create and assign topics to LDSTech members using JIRA, so understanding its role is vital if you plan to take an active part in the LDSTech community. For an introductory tutorial on using JIRA, see the Beginner's guide to JIRA wiki page.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the LDSTech 2012 Conference. Over the course of three days, there were 41 presentations and 32 projects. For a quick summary about the conference and the LDSTech effort in general, see this infographic:
Overall, 475 unique volunteers (non-employees) attended the conference. On Wednesday, 130 attended; on Thursday, 300 attended, on Friday another 300 attended. Some volunteers attended only Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, but the unique number of attendees was 475 overall.
New getting started guides for Maps, Youth, Personal Progress, Duty to God, and Store.lds.org have been added to the LDS.org getting started guides page on the wiki. The new guides are highlighted in red below.
These getting started guides provide simple, introductory information about the application on one page. There are now a total of 15 getting started guides available.
Latter-day Saint history is one of sacrifice and service in building the kingdom of God on earth. Through the early saints’ contribution of their skills, tools, and organization, the saints built temples, constructed chapels, and established vibrant communities. Skilled engineers, stone masons, designers, wood workers, architects, and other saints all worked together in a collaborative, service-based community.
LDSTech projects are a modern version of the same principle of service practiced by early Latter-day Saints.
LDSTech projects are founded on this same principle of community service. The goal of these projects is to draw upon the technical talents and skills of its members to hasten the work of the Church.
Rather than build temples, LDSTech project members focus on building software and other technical solutions. Through LDSTech projects, more than 800 people work on various technical projects. Thousands more are willing to help. The projects emphasize quality assurance, technical writing, beta testing, and development.
There's a new wiki page available -- Introduction to LDSTech projects -- that answers many introductory questions about LDSTech projects. Questions addressed include the following:
How do you communicate with members?
Why do we have LDSTech projects?
What is the purpose of LDSTech?
Who works on LDSTech projects?
What if I want to contribute service long-term?
How else can I serve?
How do I find out what volunteers in my area are serving?