“Words and actions inspire me!”

Deborrah Uecker (Waukesha, Wisconsin USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Deborrah Uecker is a Christ in Media Institute board member and a professor of Communication at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She and her husband Scott enjoy traveling whenever possible, especially to Eastern European countries.
“Words and actions inspire me!”

These words came from one of my students who participated in an on-line conference hosted by the Christ in Media Institute. I have had the opportunity for the past several years to provide students in my Intercultural Communication class a chance to participate in an on-line conference. On-line conferencing is not a concept either my students or I were familiar with. I am sure when I introduce and explain the assignment students are skeptical of the benefits for such a course requirement. But the on-line conference provides them a unique opportunity to join participants from more than 100 countries — students, faculty and lay people, in Christ centered careers using media for gospel outreach — to connect with each other. By participating in these conferences my students have identified new ways to use their gifts and abilities to glorify God whatever occupations they might pursue. What blessing!

Students take ideas shared through interaction with conference presenters, move beyond the assignment, and take them to their home congregations, campus, and community. A posting from Lakeside Lutheran High School about making video to promote the school resulted in connections with other schools and churches, and prompted looking into the future at the choice of a Christian high school over a public school for their siblings and children. A conference review of Christian movies initiated a great back and forth, and sharing of titles of films to see. Conference presentations on photography, painting, cloth art, and gaming technology all had students encouraging presenters to continue their commitment to do gospel outreach using their unique gifts. Social media is often a topic covered in the conferences. Blogs, smart phones and Twitter contests provide ways to interact especially with the younger generation. But balance is the key word. These are seen as communication tools and the conference provides examples of how these media can be used to spread the gospel.

One presenter observed, “It is clear that communication is hard.” As a professor of Communication I see evidence of this every day. The challenge for me is to try to provide opportunities for students to move beyond our campus and their busy lives. The on-line conference format has provided me an opportunity to deliver to my students a whole host of diverse presenters on a variety of topics. These presenters have been willing to share their media related projects and gifts, answer questions, and respond to suggestions — from all over the world. Some of the students have even had the chance to interact in Spanish or German. The cost is nothing but time! The benefits are priceless!


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Discussion

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Emily Sanchez (Bethany ) 2019-10-22 12:17:35am
This is amazing! I am so glad to see someone excited and worried about the youth and religion and there outside lives. I think visual art is very important and can be very impactful. I love watching movies because I get the most out of them and meaningful messages in the movie stay with see longer than hearing it at mass. Also art can be very cool to look at and can inspire youth.
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Deb Uecker (WLC) 2019-10-22 2:43:17pm
Thanks ever so much! I have been teaching for over 30 years and find that creating a sense of excitement among students about issues beyond its a challenge. College students are busy and pulled in so many directions. So to have an opportunity to ‘stop’ for a bit, watch a movie, read, reflect is a gift.
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Tionna Terry (BLC) 2019-10-22 4:06:47pm
I agreed! As a millennial I enjoy visual art and movies a lot and can understand them better than just reading or having a conversation with someone because I have time to think deeply and reflect on what I saw. Movies do a great job at getting their message across and pulling you in.
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Halle Blais (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-10-22 10:48:17pm
I think that this is such a cool and fun way to get this generation involved! Technology is such a prevalent tool in todays society and introducing kids and teens to it in a God loving way is fantastic. It's easy for kids to get distracted and use social media for things that aren't related to God or the Gospel but by directing them towards the ways they can use their social media for religion purposes it promotes good use of their social media!
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Anna Rue (MLC ) 2019-10-23 6:11:43pm

Mrs. Uecker

I loved that you brought to light this idea of using visuals in classrooms and in ministry in general. Being in the younger generation of ministry training, it’s very helpful for me to have visual aids to learn and grow more. I believe that this is the time to start training our upcoming pastors and teachers more in the use of movies and art and technology in classrooms and in services to help others learn and understand more about our faith and God’s Word.

After reading through your article and a few of the responses, everything was very positive and encouraging in the aspect of having more visual aids and expanding on the use of technology. Do you think it’s possible to get too involved with technology and in the future have it become a bad thing? Is it possible to lose sight of teachings just because of too much technology use?

Thank you for your contribution to the conference.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC ) 2019-10-23 11:54:37pm
I am a firm believer in balance in all things. It does seem some days that technology is all that matters. If something is on some form of tech, it has a weight or importance or accuracy that is not questioned. As a DMLC alum from the 70s, I was trained to always know what my objective for a lesson was or what I wanted students to learn. In my later career as someone who has attempted to embrace minimal tech in teaching, know my objectives clearly has helped my keep the balance. Tech is a tool, not an outcome. Also, not thinking about technology and it’s impact is an issue. As a scholar of communication i know that the research on effects is not keeping up with the inventions. We really don’t know what the long terms effects are on communication and society or on teaching and learning. What is ‘too much’ may or may not be in the eye of the beholder?!!
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Paul Grubbs (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-06 2:33:07pm
This comment from your post especially caught my attention here: "As a scholar of communication, I know that the research on effects is not keeping up with the inventions." On a related note, I have often wondered to what extent the research that is occurring is too-often funded by corporations with a financial stake in expanding the presence of tech in the classroom. Google, for instance, is obviously not an objective observer of research regarding the supposed advances additional technology provides in a learning space. When research is funded or even designed by these parties, are their results an arm of self-promotion or something distinctly more credible? I don't have the background knowledge to know whether my skepticism explained above is valid or paranoia. Do you have any thoughts on that topic?
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Kylie Kozinski (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-23 6:45:28pm
Deborah,
Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful impact that the on-line conferences have had on students. This has made me consider reading these responses and posts on a more daily basis. It is such a blessing to be able to connect and read your thoughts through technology.

Do you look forward to spending more time teaching through technology in the future? Or do you think it will still be a balancing act?

Thank you for your words!
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC ) 2019-10-23 11:57:53pm
I do think it will always be a balancing act. I am in my last year of teaching ministry so the future has a bit of a sunset. I find myself looking back on the last 30 plus years and identifying the ways ‘stuff’ was not in balance. To be honest, one of my main reasons to retire beyond just my age, is my concern of not being able to keep up with the technology knowledge and demands of students!
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Kylie Kozinski (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-04 7:11:51pm
Thank you for responding! God's blessings on your continued ministries.
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Caleb Hengst (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-24 5:21:50pm
Mrs. Uecker,

I have never thought about how beneficial it could be to do conferences such as these. You’ve shown some great positives that comes out of these conferences, and how they can strengthen our faith and our unity with each other, and also how we can reach out and spread the Gospel. It’s fantastic that people can share their outreach methods with others who may not be quite as creative or knowledgeable.

However I am sure that there are people who have never heard of the online conferences or maybe have heard of them but don’t have the chance to be a part of them. Surely these people want to, and should be able to benefit from them too. Is there anyway to see the results and big points/ideas that come out of the conferences without actively being in them. Are they possibly listed somewhere for someone to read through and learn from?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge about the online conferences.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-24 9:26:06pm
I am not sure. The previous conferences are archived as you can see from the main page for Christ in Media. The big points/ideas compiled or summarized in one pace is an interesting notion.
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Cassandra Rose (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-24 5:27:31pm
Professor,

I enjoyed your insights into the digital connections that online conferencing can provide to students. Words and actions can be powerful tools to spread the Gospel as well as inspire, generate, and build upon ideas. Allowing your students to reach beyond the borders of their campus through an online information highway that extends across the world can give rise to diverse cultural interactions.

Your article was thought-provoking, and so I have a question. Do you think that it would be beneficial for our area Lutheran grade schools, churches, and high schools especially to connect through online conferencing or “video challenges” such as the one Lakeside proposed for the area Lutheran high schools? Would this create a more extensive community throughout the whole of the schooling community to create even more fellowship? In what ways do you think this approach, if any, could be implemented?

Thank you for your work!
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-24 9:30:29pm
Certainly in the future as technology continues to dominate, I have no doubt that ways to connect will continue to be in demand, if we are smart and seize the day. I think the communities already exist in Facebook, Instagram and such for other things. Deliberate connections among and within the church, schools, colleges and seminaries should be explored. God has given us the tools.....we just need the people to use them to advance the kingdom.
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Cassandra G Rose (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-07 6:16:54pm
Thank you for responding with your thoughts! I appreciate you taking the time to read through and answer my questions. I would agree that venues already exist online that would create beneficial outreach and connections between schools and churches. I did not even think about the colleges connecting to each other online, which could be a great tool and learning experience for all college students. As time progresses and with each new year of students raised up in the way of technology, we have new and brilliant candidates who are willing and able to use the technological tools that God has blessed us with. Technology and its surplus of uses in ministry are still being explored and I believe that we should look into expanding our mental knowledge regarding how to wield the online tools we have.
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Richard Leasure (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-24 5:39:27pm
Dear Mrs. Uecker,

I like the idea of technology allowing you to teach a class and not even be there for it. My question is how well did it work? And do you think that it could be applicably done for pastors preaching a sermon?

Thanks.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-24 9:33:09pm
My students do say they find the conference enjoyable. There is not question that a conference format such as this is passive in nature....and what people learn could be difficult to precisely determine. Not sure what you mean or are referring to in regards to pastors preaching a sermon.
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Richard Leasure (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-07 6:25:57pm
My apologies, I should have been more clear. My first question was if this was enjoyable and if it worked well which you answered. What I was wanting to know as a follow-up would be this; do you think this technique would be a good idea to use for preaching in the pulpit? Could we have a pastor preach a sermon from far away via a video call? Also, thank you for taking the time to respond to my question! And again I apologize for the confusing wording.
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Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2019-11-12 7:53:32pm
In our "XR Project and Festival" (see another article in this conference) we may be exploring ways of answering that question using Augmented Reality.
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Brooke Wasser ((MLC)) 2019-10-24 5:46:45pm
Professor Uecker,

I appreciate your enthusiasm about how words and actions that we see and hear from fellow believers are inspiring. What a blessing it is to have that desire to want to go out and spread the Word of God using the gifts and abilities that he has given to us! Communication is something that is hard to do, but when we communicate through our gifts and talents, that’s when the real magic occurs.

After reading your article, I had one simple question. How can we encourage even more students to use their gifts and talents in order to serve our Lord and Savior? While some students may be instantly inspired to do something inspiring after watching a presentation, others may not be. How can we inspire and motivate those students to go out and spread the Word of God with the same enthusiasm, all the while using their God-given abilities?

Thank you for your contribution to the conference.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-24 9:38:23pm
Motivation is always a challenge. I think the conferences allow for motivation from examples. All of the conferences that have been done are examples of great work being done around the world.....using so many forms of technology.....by truly gifted people. It is through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit that inspiration and motivation happens. Life is full of choices.....
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Brooke Wasser ((MLC)) 2019-11-07 6:17:15pm
Professor Uecker,
Thank you for considering my ideas. I agree with what you're saying that only through the work of the Holy Spirit are we motivated to use our God-given gifts and abilities. Life is full of choices, and hopefully we make them good ones!
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McKenzey Crowley (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-24 8:53:51pm
Mrs. Uecker


I loved how you brought to life the idea of on-line conferencing and how this can help you in your everyday life. Your reminders of examples of how this can help children pick a Christian school over a public school for other family members or how this can show communication and help open ideas for students. When trying to decide what school to attend, talking to someone about the school or in general and can help them make their decision.

One idea I was wondering about after reading your article was, why did you choose to look deeper into on-line conferencing? You talked about how you liked the idea of on-line conferencing and it sparked a
an interest in your mind. What aspect of the idea sparked an interest for you? I enjoyed the article and the new insight on the topic of on-line conferencing and how it can help others.

God’s Blessings as you continue your work for on-line conferencing.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-24 9:46:46pm
I have served on the board of Christ in Media since the institute began. From the beginning focus on spreading the Gospel through media is central to what the group is about. I have a real love for travel and as a scholar I study intercultural communication. I have enjoyed the conference offerings that show gospel outreach in other countries. In many cases fellow Christians are doing much with little!
The idea for online conferences came from Judy Kuster. Much of the work of these conferences is the efforts of both Tom and Judy Kuster whose passion for this work is second to none! Technology is a tool and gift of God that we need to use better. The pervasiveness of technology is astounding. The devil has is figured it out already. We must catch up!!
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McKenzey Crowley (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-04 7:09:09pm
Thank you for your response. I appreciate all the insight you have now given me on this topic. I would love to catch up and talk more. God's Blessings on the rest of your work!
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Noah Greene (MLC) 2019-10-25 2:37:50pm
Dr. Uecker
I really appreciated the way you involved your students with the common technology regarding the online conferences even though you and your students were not familiar with it, especially allowing them to join over 100 other countries. Another great thing about your use of online conferences is allowing your students to use their talents and abilities to glorify God as you said in whatever they pursue as a career. For Lutherans, it is getting progressively harder and harder to share the word because of the use of technology and the fact that the word is not usually shared through technology, but you involving the students like this helps solve a problem like that and spreading the word of God online.
After reading your article, I have a two-part question. How have you felt so far about your students in their ways of using their given technology, and do you think this will continue to be a great way to share the word in the future? You mention the fact that they have the opportunity to get involved with 100 or more countries. I would like to know if you have found anything shocking about getting the good news to countries over the internet, and what extreme differences there are in the ways of sharing the word like this?
Thank you for your contribution to the conference. (P.S I was also a student of your husband's at St. Johns in Wauwatosa for two years, my two first years hearing about the word outside of church!)
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-25 8:43:36pm
I pray that it continues! We have many tools.....but the tools are extensions of people. For many students who tend to be somewhat self absorbed during college years, I find the conference participation a great reminder that there is a world beyond the ‘bubble’ of college life. I think the main difference, not sure it is shocking is poverty. The world continues to be divided between the ‘haves and have nots’. Technology has increasingly become less expensive. But even in places of extreme poverty....cell phones are common. How easy it is to have Bibles on phones....they are free....come in many languages....wow! Gutenberg would be proud!
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JuanDa Escobar (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-25 3:36:01pm
Mrs. Uecker,

I appreciated your passion for using technology to connect the world. I believe that schools should have a higher emphasis on getting to know more about other cultures and people from different backgrounds. Technology offers us that bridge to connect with other people and share with one another our God-given abilities. Your article reinforced me not only to use technology as a tool to share with others my skills, but also to share with them our Savior, Jesus Christ.

You mentioned you enjoy traveling to different European countries. Did you find it hard at times to connect with these people due to the language barrier? And, do you think that technology has made it easier for people from other countries to learn about the WELS?

Thank you for your contributions to the conference.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-25 8:50:03pm
Technology makes travel and translating so much easier! Technology does indeed make it easier to learn about an infinite number of the
things. In a moment I can use my phone while on a trip to look something up, find directions, translate. The barrier though will always be the person using the tech. Or to assume that everyone has the same access as I do. On either side of the bridge is a person with whom I perhaps more similar than different. I have been impressed at the end of each conference how many flags run across the landing page of the conference. Though they may not be actively participating, they are reading our ‘stuff’. What a thought to ponder!
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JuanDa Escobar (Martin Luther College) 2019-11-04 7:10:36pm
Thank you so much for your response and for answering my observations. There will always be a barrier, but as technology improves that barrier starts to get smaller. It is indeed awesome to see how many countries and people you are influencing. Once again, thank you for your insights.
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Erika Gosch (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-25 3:54:17pm
Mrs. Uecker,

Thank you for sharing such encouraging and inspiring thoughts. I have never really heard of online conferencing until now and I think it's an amazing tool that can be easily used. It sounds like it had quite the impact on you and the students and that just warms my heart knowing how involved we can get in spreading the gospel.

Would you personally suggest that more highschools would get involved with and participate in these online conferences? I want to tell my old highschool more about them.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and God's blessings.
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Deb Uecker (Presenter/WLC) 2019-10-25 8:51:21pm
Anyone can participate. Perhaps something for the Board to consider is having a conference more specifically aimed to high school students.
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Junior Mbuyi (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-10-31 8:23:32am
I love the fact that you are thinking of the youth, and getting them to the point where they are able to identify new ways to use their God given gifts and abilities to bring glory to God Himself. In a world where most teens and young adults are slaves to substance abuse, wild parties, etc. the online conferences is a great tool/platform that can and is impacting the youth in a positive way and also pointing them towards their creator.
I love this!
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Benjamin Johnson (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-11-01 5:08:19pm
I don't think that there are enough people worried about the youth and their beliefs at this time. Things like what you are doing now are so good! Lose some time but gain some great benefits in the great interaction with the youth. I think that is great!
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Sashia Swenson (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-11-02 11:21:25pm
I like how this centers around the positive aspects of advancements in technology rather than the negative opinions. This online conference takes advantage of technology and the fact that many go online. It's exciting to see ideas spread to so many people through this conference because it is done online and not in person.
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Josanne Lewis 2019-11-04 7:20:37pm
Dr. Uecker,
I really like when you mentioned how students can use social media to spread the word of God instead of portraying negative things on the internet. I feel like this presentation is well worded because this is something that today’s generation need to hear and really understand.

While reading your presentation I couldn't help but to stop and ask, do you really think that the majority of the students would happily volunteer to participate in the online conference without being forced? I really think that students these days don’t really make the time and effort to be involved in these things because their so caught up in other things that are going on in their young lives.

Thank you very much for your resourceful presentation.
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Deb Uecker (WLC/presenter) 2019-11-05 2:53:49am
I have been involved in all of the online conferences with my students. It is clear that the participation from the three colleges is or seems to be required. But after 30 years of teaching college, I don’t have a problem requiring students to try new things and move beyond the ‘bubble’ of the college campus. I always hope that when ‘forced’ to do something once, the students find it enjoyable and when given the opportunity in the future would participate without force.
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Kostiantyn Skorenkyi (MLC) 2019-11-05 3:13:38am
I've never heard before about online conferences, but it sounds like a great idea. It is true communication is hard, and technology can make it a little easier. Nowadays, we don't need to go anywhere to interact with people and spread the Gospel. Kids can use technology to take there communication and participation outside of the class. You mentioned before that the online conference format had provided you an opportunity to deliver to your students a whole host of diverse presents on a variety of topics. I wonder how you sign up for this conference and how do they work. I was happy to read how some schools and students use technology to move their communication beyond the campus. Thank you for finding options like online conference and teaching kids how to use technology to outreach to people properly.
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Deb Uecker (WLC) 2019-11-05 11:50:30pm
The ‘brainchild’ for this conference comes from Judy and Tom Kuster. They do the entire conference planning and execution. Presenters such as myself have been invited to participate and agree to produce content, then interact with participants for a defined period of time. They have tried to have diverse topics. The main challenge I see is getting the word out to people and inviting them to participate. The largest group of participants has been students required to engage. You can see by the country flags at the top, there are people from around the world looking at the conference, but not posting. So what is said is certainly getting read.....and folks are hopefully impacted by the discussion in some way.
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Brooke R and Alissa D (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2019-11-06 10:10:49pm
I was never aware of a conference similar to this one, and it was brought to my attention in class by Professor Uecker! As a college student it's great to know that there are tools such as this to take a break from the busyness of my everyday life. I typically hear all the bad things technology brings to our lives, when it was meant to be used to make our lives easier. Technology is such a huge part of my everyday life, and it's awesome to see it used in such a positive light.
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Michayla K (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2019-11-08 8:35:10pm
Professor Uecker,
I had never heard of an online conference before my Intercultural Communications class. I think it is a great way to hear from other people from many different places and many different experiences. I am glad that this was given to us as an opportunity because I have learned so much and I didn't even have to leave my room like you said "the cost is nothing but time" and I have benefited a lot from reading from the different presenters. Because the online conference is a beneficial way of meeting many people do you think that this has the potential to grow? Also, would you recommend other professors to use this as an activity in their classes?
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Deb Uecker (WLC) 2019-11-08 11:27:23pm
I would love to see this used more. For several years I have tried to encourage the Russian communication group I belong to, to consider doing one. The logistics and expense of face to face conference between Europe and the US is a challenge. But it does take a commitment from a conference organizer and cite or platform to host such an event. The format is great.....but not well known.
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Nora S. (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-11-09 5:17:10pm
Things like this is what bring the synod into the 21st century. This kind of work helps connect us to the current and future generations in a way that will, hopefully, make them excited to be participants within the church. As a student myself, I know I always appreciate when teachers use techniques that differ from the typically classroom setting.
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Mario Cordero (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2019-11-11 2:26:28am
This just reminds me of being in class and seeing how passionate you are talking about your experiences during your research in awesome places like Russia and how much you enjoy helping us connect, compare, and contrast our culture with others. One thing I think educators could do better to maintain students challenged during classes but also motivated would be by trying to bring those assignments or challenges to our world. I think that is clear that there is a huge generational gap and that can be a huge barrier between educators and students; however, I think that if we could find a healthy middle where we do things a little more modernized it would improve the way education improves and would make students more engage and communicate more. Personally I think online forums of discussion are very effective because it allows us to compare the way people from our school and country thinks compared with others.
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Madi W. and Isaiah B. (WLC) 2019-11-11 3:52:47am
Like you said, communication can be hard. As humans, we tend to only communicate with those that we know, especially when it comes to those that speak other languages. Sometimes it can be very easy to be stuck in our own little bubble of the people that we know and the ways in which we are spreading God’s Word. Being something like this is so beneficial, especially if you are coming back discouraged from failed attempts to preach the gospel. Knowing that there are other people out there, all around the world, spreading the good news in many different ways is uplifting as well as refreshing. Being a part of this on-line conference is intact something I have never done before, but am excited and humbled to be a part of it. Thank you for your insight on the ways in which it will impact your students.
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Marquis (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2019-11-11 3:55:06pm
I believe this is interesting to think about because nowadays people are closed off within their own communities and environments they do not put effort to expand their minds and come too new experiences. With this assignment, it is nice to communicate with people I would have never communicated to without this and to be shared new ideas and topics I have never been exposed too.
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