Online Programs: What Is Going to Happen?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    The other day I was reading the website of a fairly well known theological seminary. When I came to the part about online learning I was stunned at what I read. According to this seminary's website, online learning is fine for a very limited number of courses but most seminary courses should be taught on campus in the traditional 16-week format.

    Shortly after that, I was discussing the topic of online learning with our director of online learning. They were of the view that colleges, universities, and seminaries that don't embrace online learning will be left behind. They will, within the next twenty years, become obsolete.

    Is our director correct? I think so. Colleges (at all levels), universities, and seminaries must adapt to the changing market place. They have no real choice. The face of higher education is changing and it is changing fast. No longer are schools going to be able to continue to do things the way they have been done for 75 years. Thanks to the advancements in online learning schools are going to have to adjust their attitudes and their actions. Online classes, live television classes, modular classes, and Saturday classes are the future.

    Sadly, if the seminary whose website I visited does not change its approach its halls will be dark twenty years from this day.

    What say you?
     
  2. michaelbowe

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    I agree online education is the way of the now! There are too many offerings available now for a person to finish his or her degree online from an accredited school. I completed my undergraduate completely online, and did a lot of my M.Div online. However, I agree there are certain courses that would be difficult if not impossible to teach online. When I attended in residence, I had practicums, preaching in front of a class and two profs that would critique, and fellowship and discussions that cannot be replaced. I know the first response to that is the online discussion boards, and they simply are not the same. Therefore, I do not believe schools will be left behind, but the ones that do offer programs online will have more opportunities to flourish.
     
  3. tank1976

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    I think the classroom is great. To be honest though, I fully believe that online education is going to grow even more.

    There are good and bad with it, but most of my education come from independent study or online classes. I went back and finished my degree through Liberty with online classes.

    If not for this format I would have not been able to finish the degree God called me to pursue.

    *B.S. in Religion L.U. 2010. The degree and the pursuit of the degree has deepened my walk with Christ. It has also trained me to serve His church better as a minister of the Gospel.
     
  4. preachinjesus

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    I disagree. (Though I'd love to know what seminary it is...might say something about their ability to "see down the road.")

    Brick and mortar educational institutions will always have a place. You can't replace the experience received from being at an institution full time. All students need some kind of on campus interaction, even if its minimal. There is something concrete about being in the midst of the buildings and scholars that links you to your foundations.

    That said if more institutions are wise they will learn that for a minimal investment in sizable education they can underwrite a lot of what happens on campus with the online part.

    Also I seriously doubt that the content delivered via lecture is all that different in person as opposed to be being in a satellite classroom. (Hey we've been doing multi-site preaching for years and people have legitimatized it.)

    Here's a great piece from FT.com about blended formats: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/53a0a23e-...b76-11e0-89d8-00144feab49a.html#axzz1GaeDfZoq or here: http://media.ft.com/cms/c10627ec-4b79-11e0-89d8-00144feab49a.pdf

    If an institution just resists the online move, at least for a hybrid approach, they will be in big, big trouble. The accrediting bodies are quickly recognizing it as a reasonable means to achieving an education so long as certain requirements are in place.

    I disagree with this blanket kind of a statement, but I can see some schools having to close down parts of their facilities.

    More practically for MDiv, or seminary studies, the door of opportunity it so huge right now because we can train students from all over the world (many who desperately need the education) and impact the world in mighty ways. The online, hybrid approach is ideal and will truly create some amazing days for that side of things.

    Of course, whose to say that people will care about undergraduate and graduate degrees in 20 years. When was the last time anyone actually asked for or looked at your diplomas? Maybe by overselling our need for degrees we are watering the potency of actually getting an education...because there is a HUGE difference. :)

    My take: I'd want someone to spend at least 3 years of undergrad on campus and 2 years of masters degree on campus. As for doctorate...I'm at a loss to figure out but there needs to be an on campus component. :)
     
  5. glfredrick

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    I am somewhat familiar with SBTS on-line program. The course material is identical to that taught in the classroom, and the schedule proceeds exactly like the classroom schedule. In other words, the only thing that is really on-line is the student. Otherwise the course is completed just as it would be if on campus -- at the same time, with the same requirements, save for a bit more writing that might otherwise be replaced with classroom discussion.

    Additionally, a part of the on-line experience includes forum activity for class discussions. As the on-line course proceeds at the same pace as the in-school class, the discussion involves the entire class.

    I'm of the opinion that on-line education will not supplant on-campus education, however. It will likely expand, sure, but it will not replace as soon as the suggested 20 years. Without the main entity, there would be no on-line either, so the two go hand-in-hand.

    A bigger factor in pastoral training are the "pastor schools" run by many churches with interest in that area. I'm seeing a trend toward this form of pastoral education, which is sometimes combined with a distinct anti-intellectual trend that seems rampant in our era. There, the watchword seems to be "learn people, not stuff..." But the "stuff" is what holds us orthodox in the faith and every time a piety movement gains steam and directs away from doctrine and theology, we end up with a new bunch of heretical sects. History bears this out, time and again.

    While these "pastor schools" are yet tied to individuals who are formally educated and who know their stuff, the training can and will be valuable, but in the 2nd and 3rd generations, the system will begin to fail as man's words are stacked upon man's words instead of the solid bedrock of theology hashed out through the ages, based on the never-changing Word of God instead of "perceptions and moves of the Spirit."
     
  6. Martin

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    ==That is the way it is suppose to be. SACS, and other accrediting bodies, are really big on "parity". This means that online students get the same quality of education as oncampus students. I believe this ends up making online education more challenging because many times students do not have actual lectures to break the material down for them. Thus online students have to learn to break the material down for themselves. That, I believe, is a really good thing. Still, I use brief video lectures in my online classes. Gives it a more personal touch.

    ==I don't know that it will totally replace traditional education in every area. However I can see a day when online education is the main form of graduate education. I can also see a day when community colleges offer most of their classes in the online format. The market is changing. No longer is it realistic for people to quit their jobs to attend school (seminary, university, etc). Today people need to be able to attend school, get a quality education, while they continue their career/ministry.
     
  7. Joseph M. Smith

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    I read just the other day that the University Senate of the United Methodist Church has voted to permit up to one-third of the courses given at its seminaries to be taught on-line.

    John Leland Seminary, in Arlington, VA, a Baptist but non-affiliated seminary that caters to non-traditional students, and for which I served several terms as a trustee, has just announced the receipt of a grant to design on-line education as a major component of its instruction.
     
  8. Siberian

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    I still think there is room for both D.E. and on-campus studies. I did my undergraduate work on-campus, studying the Bible, applied linguistics, cultural acquisition and missions. It was fantastic training for what I was doing (church planting in Northern Asia). The Bible and mission subjects could have been easily achieved via D.E., but I cannot imagine how the linguistics and cultural acquisition courses could have been delivered in any other format (because of the necessary and frequent instructor/class interaction).

    However, I've still never been to the campus where I earned an M.Div. And all of those subjects were easily taught in the D.E. format: even the Hebrew and Greek classes. And, for me, D.E. for Seminary was probably better than on-site studies would have been, because I was able to complete my M.Div. while serving under a seasoned pastor (as an associate pastor). That real-life laboratory was incredibly helpful, in my opinion.

    Long live the classroom, and I tip my hat to D.E.
     
  9. Osage Bluestem

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    Self education is becoming extremely easy with all of the worlds knowledge at your fingertips and the ability to order any book or lecture you want online and have it delivered to your door.

    Some of the best educated people don't have the official proof of their eduation but they do indeed have the education.
     
  10. glfredrick

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    Our on-line coursework is identical to the classroom. The prof teaches the lessons to the class and the lessons are recorded to DVD. What the class sees, the on-line student sees, save for the personal discussion time after the lecture, which is handled via on-line chat.
     
  11. glfredrick

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    Our seminary does indeed offer language classes on-line. I agree with your thoughts about certain classes, where interaction IS the class. That would be difficult, but in the case of a missionary or working pastor, those aspects might as well be handled by field work, independent study, as they are already immersed in the culture.
     
  12. ReformedBaptist

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    I think online is here to stay unless Obama pushes the kill switch on the internet. :laugh:
     

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