We are connected.
Our website, www.nacc.org, is not a simple “about our organization” affair with only a few pages of information. The NACC website is large (well over 2,000 pages at last count, those pages in turn linking to hundreds of documents and media files) and active as well. We show up on all sorts of Google searches, our “Positions Available” (job board) page is far and away one of the most popular job boards for chaplains on the Internet (despite it being aimed specifically at our members), and at least one hundred or so sites link to the NACC site. Leading back out are a host of other links. Connection, online, is already the name of the game. The question is how those connections will develop, not whether they will.
Our Facebook page now provides another avenue for news and networking. We use YouTube to highlight and share videos that are particularly relevant or useful (for example, the Catholic Health Association’s “Ready, Get Set, Enroll!” video about healthcare reform.1) and for its reliability and high bandwidth that allows us to embed videos in the NACC website and invite over two thousand people to watch them at the same time with no worries about server overload or crash.
Admittedly we haven’t seem to have found a use on Twitter for the association, perhaps because our news/updates don’t occur quite at the pace reflected on that site, but maybe it will prove useful in the coming months and years. We do plan to make more use of LinkedIn, specifically its professional groups.2
In the box at the end of this article you can read about our website upgrade and the introduction of WebLink Connect software, both ways we are branching out and improving on the more technical side of things.
As an organization that strives to be pastoral, we know that whether the technological tools we use are web-based software that helps us manage tasks and store crucial data, or social media tools that facilitate human connection by using technology, care needs to go into the development of these tools so that they “do what they do” without requiring extra attention that needs to be devoted elsewhere, whether to work, the care of others, self-care, or some other equally important task.
We all want – we all need – the tools that we use to not only work, but also to make our work and life a bit easier. So the tools and resources we offer to chaplains (and their colleagues) should be as useful as possible, but also they should facilitate and improve the ways that the NACC advocates, educates, certifies, and supports our membership. They should make chaplains’ jobs better. They should make better chaplains. They should make a better NACC.
So how do we select and optimize these tools, these technologies, to do all of these things and do them well? By listening to the members and their needs, their experiences with technology, how they need it to work, and, more to the point, how we’re doing. Let us know – please stay connected!
Philip Paradowski is a member of the NACC Association Support Team. He is the IT network administrator and the webmaster for the NACC site. In addition, he provides clerical and computer support in all matters and activities relating to special projects, including the national conference, annual appeal, and other tasks/projects within the NACC Strategic Plan.
1 youtu.be/K5N1j_StJuE [“Ready, Get Set, Enroll!”]
2 For example, the Professional Chaplains Group:
Website takes giant step forward using powerful technology
In the first part of this year our website was redone from the inside out. While it may not be readily apparent (the colors, style, and graphics of the site haven’t changed), the code that runs the website behind the scenes was overhauled and rewritten, moving from Microsoft Classic ASP to ASP.NET. The .NET platform1 is a much more powerful technology that allows for more robust web-based programming and database usage while optimizing both security and interoperability with various hardware and software systems.2
So far the most visible change, for members, has been the rebuild of our member login system. The new system has a more robust range of functions (many not yet implemented!) and is significantly more secure than the old system. It is, however, still in development, as further changes will be coming.
Foremost among those changes is the planned introduction of WebLink Connect, web-based association membership software created by WebLink International3, which will be integrated with the NACC website and membership database in 2014. WebLink Connect will provide several new ways for NACC members to use the website, including (but not limited to):
Updating and viewing of member contact information (email, mailing address)
Updating other pertinent information like diocese of ministry, diocese of residence, workplace type/environment (hospital, hospice, correction facility, etc.), areas of speciality (palliative care, music ministry, interfaith ministry, community outreach)
Payment of dues
Registering for local gatherings and educational events
Keeping and updating a record of CEHs for renewal of certification.
Moving forward, the inclusion of WebLink’s features on a .NET-based website will provide a wealth of new features and a solid base on which to build the organization’s future online.
— Philip Paradowski