Church holds fourth annual LDSTech Conference

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LDSTech hosted its fourth annual conference in Salt Lake City. The conference included special presentations highlighting the new advancements in Church technology over the past year.

Participants gathered together at the University of Utah Institute building or participated from other locations online to view the conference Oct. 17 and 18. The focus of the conference was on how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can use these tools and resources in their personal lives and to help in the hastening of the Lord’s work.

tech conference
Some presentations are made so attendees can work on projects while they learn. (Photo taken from https://tech.lds.org/wiki/File:Ldstech-conf-project.png)

Blaine Maxfield, CIO of The Church and Managing Director of ICS (the Church’s IT department) addressed participants as the keynote speaker to kick off the conference.

He emphasized the important role technology plays in the hastening of the Lord’s work and the inspired advancements in Church technology over the past year.

“As I spend time around the Brethren I sense every day the urgency they feel about this work that is going forward,” he said. “In this instance, the Lord is pushing us and we are not moving as fast as we should. We are working on it.”

Maxfield mentioned that many advancements in technology have affected numerous areas of the Church. This includes the new youth curriculum as well as the push for family history work.

One of the most dramatic changes in the use of technology pertains to the missionary force. With more than 80,000 missionaries serving in areas around the world, missionaries are now using iPads and social media to share the gospel.  However, Maxfield reminded the audience that the ultimate goal of technology is still to help bring people to the gospel on a personal basis. “It’s all done so that missionaries can get into people’s homes,” he said.

He further emphasized the importance of building personal relationships to share the gospel.

“All the technology we are working on and all we are doing to help missionaries and to continue the work doesn’t take the place of the immutable gospel, doesn’t take place of us being with people,” he said.

Over the next two days, speakers spoke of the technological advancements and resources available to members of the Church all over the world. The focus was on educating conference attendees about the practical application of available resources. Attendees were also invited to provide feedback for future versions of the technologies presented.

Presentations featured changes to the LDS music library available on iOS as well as changes to the Gospel Library with information on how to share those tools with other people who may be interested in learning more about the apps.

Justin Krebbs spoke about the LDS Tools app, available on iOS, that allows Church members to access the information of other members in their wards and stakes without having to access the internet. Krebbs spoke of a feedback app survey issued for LDS tools that garnered more than 12,000 responses. The feedback suggested a desire for a tool that tracks both visiting teaching and home teaching on a monthly basis. “We are in the process of looking into it to see if that is a possibility,” he said.

Ally Parish, an educational consultant, educated conference attendees on how to make personal scripture study more meaningful on a daily basis thanks to the advancements in Church technology.

“Research shows that when we are interacting with others, as we discuss things and share them, learning goes up to 90% retention,” Parish said. She went on to talk about the available resources online to help make scripture study a meaningful experience on a daily basis.

Jeff Isom, director of lds.org and the communication department, provided an overview of lds.org with all the available tools available on the site. He mentioned that lds.org has now been made a “digital first” publishing website in an effort to keep the public informed of current Church events as quickly as possible.

The purpose of the conference was to educate all attendees, who mostly consisted of members of the Church of all ages, so they can use what they learn to apply the Church resources in their daily lives.

“We have a wonderful problem. The Church is growing. It is considered one of the fastest growing Churches in the world,” Maxfield said. “Brothers and sisters, the Lord is going to expect us to continue to hasten His work, and we have been given special gifts to do so.”

The conference can be accessed online at http://tech.lds.org/wiki/LDSTech_Conference.

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