Jan 24


sallieVR150We have new tech at the Draper household, and believe it our not, it’s made of cardboard! Not just any cardboard … Google Cardboard! And it’s taking us to some interesting (virtual reality) places.

I heard about Google Cardboard in the educational technology class I’m currently taking. After a bit of reading, I found the price was right to give it a try! So I ordered the DodoCase Virtual Reality Cardboard Toolkit V1.2.

It came in the mail Thursday, and we were a bit surprised at the DIY items that were included. Besides the obvious cardboard ingredient, the build requires a variety of small parts including various stickers and foam spacers, a metallic shield, a wood button lever (which looks a lot like a tongue depressor) and some velcro.


Note – The colorful chameleon in the picture didn’t come with the kit. He’s a permanent resident!

My dear husband is always up for a DIY challenge so he got the job of putting it all together. His only comment was, “It’s harder than it looks,” so I know it took a bit of effort. But the results were amazingly cool and no disappointment!

The viewer works by inserting your smartphone into the front and watching specially programmed 3D walk throughs, games and videos. We’ve toured Paris and seen the Bean and other landmarks in Chicago. I found YouTube videos which I can watch in 3D. They have a side-by-side view of the video which melds together to form the 3D version using the viewer. Check out my playlist. At this point there are more Android apps than iOS. We’ve tried a few on each type of device and the technology is impressive.

Next up – learning to create our own videos in this format!

Sep 22

Share Your Tech

Currently the WELSTech Podcast is calling for input on two different fronts.

Pastors – We want to learn about the tech in your life! Take the short survey at bit.ly/pastorstechsurvey. Answers will be featured on upcoming episodes of WELSTech and one respondent will be selected to receive a copy of HymnSoft Player 3.0.pastorsTechSurveyPromo

Also, we are looking for presenters for WELSTech Conference 2015. Submit your ideas for a 50-minute breakout session topic by September 30. those selected will receive free admittance to the conference, a $199.00 value. Dates are July 9-11. Location will be Country Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Waukesha, WI. I hope to see and learn from you there!


Dec 02

Keep Christ in your Christmas preparations

It happens every year. I start the Advent season with the best intentions that this will be the year I don’t get swept away with the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating and food prep and parties and travel. Instead I long for the season to be simple and reflective and focused on the birth of my savior, Jesus Christ.

featureSqC13Devotions150I found just that opportunity to dwell on the one thing needful when I opened my e-mail box this morning. A gift arrived from my friends at WELS with a set of wonderful family devotions for us to use this week. There are three to use (a perfect number for me because I don’t have the feel guilty if I miss a day) and they include some reflective questions that are written for discussion with children of various ages. I’m looking forward to sharing these with my family!

I invite you to join us in a few moments of quiet reflection this Advent and Christmas season by sharing these devotions with your family as well. You can download Week 1 (PDF) and check back for links to future week’s devotions.

God’s blessings on your time in His Word!

UPDATE 12/09/13 – Here’s the link to the Week 2 devotions (PDF).

UPDATE 12/13/13 – Here are the final Week 3 devotions (PDF)


Oct 14

I’m a 5s-er

iPhone5s_200October 9, 2013 was big day in the life of this tech-loving girl as it was was the day I became an owner of a shiny smart phone for the first time! The proverbial Wells Fargo Wagon (ok, it was really a Fed Ex truck) arrived that day with my iPhone 5s and ushered into my life the age of uninterrupted connected-ness.

Up to this point I’ve only dabbled in the cell phone world. Tracfones have been adequate to keep me in touch when I was off the grid and occasionally strayed away from my home or school or church wireless network. And my mobile device of choice wasn’t a phone but an iPad tablet. I was quiet happy with all the things I could do on it.

But with life changes my telephone needs changed as well and progress seemed to dictate that smart phones were the way to go. The timing coincided with the newest iPhone release so I ordered up a 32 GB Space Grey 5s model (just like this guy), taking full advantage of the 22% ShopWELS Verizon Wireless discount.

While we are still getting to know each other (Siri and I have just been introduced), I thought I’d share some of my first impressions:

  1. Speed – Not much to say here except “Wow!” I didn’t know how slow life was on my iPad until I experienced the 5s.
  2. New features – Keep in mind that I’ve never had a smart phone before so many things are new to me (like the GPS – already loving RunKeeper!!), but the 5s in particular got lots of buzz for fingerprint recognition. And I am here to say, the claims are correct. It did take some time to get to know my right thumb quiet well and now it  opens perfectly with just my touch. You’ll have to give me time to figure out more about all the bells and whistles, but I’m particularly excited to try the slow-mo video option.
  3. Must-have apps – Out of the box there weren’t many surprises with the apps that were pre-installed. They were important but not-that-exciting utilities that are needed to make things work well.builtInAppsiOS
    A nice surprise were the number of premium apps that Apple offered up for free if desired. This offer is for new devices activated with this release. I had paid for many of these apps for my iPad in the past so I thought Apple was quiet generous to throw them in for free.freeAppsiOS
    Connecting to my existing Apple account (a fast and easy sign in) gave me access to my past purchased apps. Then the real work of sorting through the 100s of apps I’ve installed in my 4 plus years of shopping the iTunes Store began. Over time I’m sure many of the apps I’ve used on my iPad will make their way to my iPhone, but the initial cut included my all time favs …

So I’m off and running in the smart phone world. Friday night was the perfect opportunity to share the moment from The Diver’s concert at MLC and the iPhone camera quality did not disappoint.


I’m looking forward to many more positives with my new found connected-ness!

Jun 04


We have a graduate! And I have an official excuse for ignoring my blog. Life has been busy preparing for graduation and attending end of year events. We gave a party in Stanley’s honor which I had a ton of fun preparing for. There were banners

Banners - Oh Happy Day

and photo boards

Photo Boards

and live streaming

iPad Streaming

Live streaming

and lots of cheesecake!!


Check out all the photos.

Not only has life been busy, but my hands have also been busy crocheting Stanley’s graduation blanket. Thanks to my mother-in-law, Judy, who joined the millions (or 768 … which felt like millions) of squares!


The big day arrived on Sunday, May 26. Stanley graduated with a amazing group of classmates.

MVL Class of 2013

There were photo ops before, during and after the ceremony.

Mom and Stan

The cohort


Filpping tassels

Sam and Stan

So long and thanks for the fish

Check out tons of photos of the special day.

We’re on to enjoying summer and planning for the start of college at Carleton in the fall!

Mar 06

Tool 1 – BuddyPress

Back in January you may recall that I committed to learning about 10 new tools in 2013.  And then I seemed to drop off of the face of the earth. I had nothing to say. Complete silence in the month of February. Well I’m back and I have a confession to make…

I got in over my head.  

Those aren’t easy words to write, but I am here to tell you that it’s gonna be ok! 😀

You see, my goal for February was to test drive the BuddyPress plugin for WordPress as my first new tool in Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge.


From the BuddyPress site I learned that the plugin is “Social Networking, the WordPress way.” Sounded intriguing to me that I could have my own little private Facebook site. I envisioned uses for churches and schools as a private place for all kinds of groups (Bible study, teachers, various boards, etc.) to connect for file sharing and conversations. I could think of non-ministry uses as well – perhaps a BuddyPress install for my family or for my kid’s music group. Any gathering of folks around a topic or shared interest would do.

With that vision, I set about installing the software. My web host, SiteGround (affiliate link), makes it super simple to install a new WordPress blog using the convenience of Softaculous.


In just 3 minutes I had a blog in place, cleverly titled My Book (the depth of my creativity is astounding at times, I know), and I set up installing the BuddyPress plugin. Again, a quick thing to do, this time from within the WordPress Admin Dashboard.

Unfortunately that’s where things came to a grinding stop. I looked under the hood a bit, and I found things I didn’t understand completely.  I poked around the interface by creating users and adding posts, but I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around how best to set up the site. You see BuddyPress is capable of A LOT. Just check out some of the sites that use it for examples:

My lack of vision or pressing need for the tool was the roadblock that kept me from fully exploring and comprehending its capabilities. That being said, I’ll repeat what I said earlier:  It’s gonna be ok! Just because I didn’t have a major breakthrough experience with BuddyPress doesn’t mean I didn’t gain a healthy appreciation for its capabilities. If you, dear reader, have a need for an excellent private social network tool, I think BuddyPress can do the job for you!

One final note – I made a new techie friend in this process. Jim Baur, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Baxter, MN, wrote to me early on to say he had recently set up a private social network/intranet for his church using a different software platform, Elgg. You can check out Jim’s site at christbaxter.com/member for a real life look at the possibilities of this type of platform. Jim shared with me that he had done his homework comparing Elgg with BuddyPress before deciding on Elgg, and he thinks he made the better choice. I’ll have to trust him on that (his site looks awesome, so I think that speaks volumes!) because I didn’t get very far with my Softaculous Elgg install either. (Fail x2 – February wasn’t my month!)

Bring on March and my evaluation of Evernote. I think I am up for the task!!

Jan 22

10 Tools in 2013

For over 5 years I’ve followed the blogs and resources shared by Jane Hart. Jane regularly writes about tools and methods for the work of online training. One of my favorite things she does is an annual survey of online learning professionals to gather their recommended top 10 learning tools. In 2012 her 6th annual survey gathered responses from 582 learning professionals worldwide, including yours truly. But Jane doesn’t just gather the data. She compiles all of the results into an uber useful Top 100 Tools list.

As a professional challenge, Jane has invited her followers to make 2013 a year to discover 10 new tools from the list. This is my official “I’m throwing my hat in to this challenge ring” post. Beginning in February, I’ll share my experience with one new tool each month. In December I’ll post a wrap up of the experience.

I’ve browsed the Top 100 Tools list and selected these 10 tools which I currently do not use for my year of discovery –

  1. ToolsBuddyPress
  2. Evernote
  3. MentorMob
  4. Pocket
  5. Poll Everywhere
  6. Prezi
  7. Quora
  8. Scoopit
  9. Symbaloo
  10. Udutu

I’m looking forward to the challenge. Tune in for my February review of BuddyPress.

Jan 01

December 31 – The last one!

Well, I made it to the end of December and surprised myself by actually creating a photo collage for every day of the month.  Unless you are my Mom (Hi, Mom!!) you are most likely quite tired of Draper photos by now. But I enjoyed the effort and learned more about photography and our new camera and PicMonkey and my iPad photo apps (Photogene, Pixlr-o-matic, Pic Collage, BubbleFrame and Instagram) in the process.

Since our New Year’s Eve collage is going to be the last one in the series, I wanted it to be something different. So I made use of yet another iPad app – ComicBook! – to create the montage of photos from our epic usher-in-2013 Settlers of Catan game. Enjoy and God bless your new year!!


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Dec 30

December 30 – Instagram Collage

I’m a big fan of the photo sharing app Instagram and have processed all my favorite pics through their creative filters over the past year and a half.  So of course it would be appropriate to create an all Instagram collage. If these top picks aren’t enough for you, check out my Instagram profile for all my photos.


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Dec 29

December 29 – Family Photos

For today’s collage I took a trip down memory lane and gathered photos of our family since 1999. Many happy memories are connected with these pictures!


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