Let me start by saying, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell most of you, teachers are some of the biggest heroes of this time! Over the summer I started seeing posts about Bitmoji classrooms that educators were making for their virtual students. Inspired by a colleague, I decided to make a virtual prayer room for my campus ministry. Fast forward a few months and I found myself coordinating the Virtual Spirituality Center for APCE’s Annual Event.
The clickable things in this Annual Event Spirituality Center include:
- White Board: a place to share joys and concerns. (The image in the main room didn’t change, but the one people saw when they clicked on it did.)
- Art Easel: visio divina reflection prompts.
- Candle: prompts for practicing the daily examen.
- Window: nature relaxation videos.
- APCE logo: a link to the conference landing page.
- Labyrinth: printable labyrinths and basic instructions.
- Books: various meaningful reads (devotionals, poetry, a Bible, etc).
- Colored pencils: links to Praying in Color and a few printable coloring pages.
- Boom Box: a conference-inspired playlist featuring songs suggested by Annual Event participants and leaders.
- Chalkboard: a basic introduction to the room and its sources.
While I’m pretty comfortable with technology in general, I don’t have any formal graphic design or web building experience. All you need to make your own virtual room is a Google account and some time! When all was said and done, the Annual Event Spirituality Center ended up including 18 Google Slides, six other Google Docs or forms, and 14 links to external resources. Your room doesn’t need to be that expansive unless you want it to be. (The first room I made is a far simpler two slides and a handful of links.)
Speaking of the aforementioned teacher heroes, this tips and tricks document features links to a couple of helpful blog posts, plus some other practical tidbits I learned along the way, and a list of examples from various ministry contexts.
Beyond the nuts and bolts, it’s helpful to think ahead of time about how much regular upkeep you’re willing to do. For example, when folks at Annual Event added a joy or concern to the community prayers white board, I had to copy and paste each one from the Google Form onto the slide. There was pretty steady traffic, which was great for a three-day event but could’ve been a little trickier to keep up with long term. On the other hand, having part(s) of your virtual room change periodically gives people a reason to come back.
A virtual prayer space or classroom might not be a perfect fit in every setting, but it’s a fun medium to explore if you think it might be right for yours!