How has digital technology changed how you do life and ministry in this season of COVID-19?
When people ask me this question, I share my approach to the change…
Three big needs during and post-COVID times:
- CONTENT: People have a lot of time during this COVID season and are hooked onto the internet most of the time. And so, I see that there is a need for relevant content to flood the net with.
- ENCOURAGEMENT: People are living in fear and panic as they are engulfed and bombarded with news reports of this pandemic resulting in hopelessness. Therefore, they need encouragement and hope to pull themselves through this time.
- CONNECTION: Social distancing has led to isolation which in turn has resulted in loneliness and has also affected the psychological and emotional well-being of people. Therefore, the need is to connect people with one another and build an online community.
ONLINE COMMUNITY BUILDING
Community builder’s task:
Work towards reinventing ourselves with a laser focus on the target to engage with people.
Keys applied to building a meaningful online learning community:
- Data is the NEW OIL that fuels effective use of appropriate digital tools. Our strategies need to be either aligned to their values or must add to it. Data gives insights. Data scientists help in generating information by stringing it. Real time data on how people engage with content and with one another is critical in developing and sustaining any online community.
- Cannot replicate traditional methods but need to constantly adapt to meaningfully engage a not so focused audience (multiple devices with internet) found in a highly distracted environment (homes)
- Developing a personalized experience by understanding the demographics of the online community is critical as we deal with three or four generations. Different individuals and groups of people have different expectations and their willingness to adapt is different. Example: We had volunteers who could assist older folk who were not so familiar in using applications, in helping them to download and connect during our online sessions.
- Have pauses and insert what will attract each learning community. Change according to the audience. (Ex: Online customizable tools like ‘Kahoot.it’ for a youth group). The one thing constant is change!
- Social Cognitive considers the unique way in which individuals acquire and maintain behavior in a social environment in which they perform the behavior. Transformational processes require a thriving community learning experience unlike mere skill development that can be done by knowledge transfer. (Ex: Character formation vs software coding skill development). Therefore, creating the most appropriate social environment where authentic relationships can thrive and setting the tone for meaningful conversations among individuals to learn and grow is essential.
- In an “honor-shame” culture like ours, it takes enormous effort and energy for the host to have everyone enable their video on their devices or to have them spell out their thoughts, reflections on a zoom call. The facilitator has to negotiate through such challenges by being sensitive in building such a community.
All of the above factors have shaped our mode of functioning and how we use digital technology given the new reality of social distancing and lockdown during these COVID times.
I hope this has been helpful for you. Soon, I will share a follow-up post: “Using Digital Technology for the Future”.
A3 / South India
Pastor Rajiv Hubert is a graduate of A3 and currently serves on the working team of A3 / South India. In his primary roles, he serves at the Apostolic Christian Assembly Church at Chennai, India as the Lead Pastor of the English congregation and as a resource person at schools, colleges and involved in developing leaders across denominations and in different countries. Married to Selvi and blessed with two children, John and Joanna.