Quality In Distance Learning

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    While many educators in the secular world are taking full advantage of the advancement of technology (internet, computers, blackboard, streaming video, dvds, etc) the world of Christian education has its head in the sand. While there are Christian Universities and Seminaries that have adopted some online programs/courses, many still either don't offer such options or only do so because they "have to" (response to demand). The situation for Christian students is getting better. For example many of the Southern Baptist schools offer courses online (Southeastern, Southern, New Orleans) and other major seminaries are offering courses/degrees online (Dallas, Liberty, etc). However other Christian Universities and seminaries still refuse to accept degrees/credits earned via distance learning (Bob Jones, Trinity Evangelical, etc). In this situation students are forced not to mention that they earned a degree/credits via distance learning because if they do their credits just don't transfer (even if fully accredited). However if you graduated with a MDiv from Luther Rice, or a MA/R from Liberty, people in those schools "will" ask if the degree/credits were earned online. So what do you do? Lie? Hopefully not (Rev 21:8). Do you admit it and lose the credits? Or do you just avoid the question like a politician? Secular schools, interestingly enough, don't ask those type of (illegal??) questions. This is not a good situation.

    Christian Universities and Seminaries need to be offering degrees/credits online. Why? There are several reasons:

    1. It opens the school up to people who normally could not attend that particular school (ie...people in New Mexico at Luther Rice, etc).

    2. It opens up seminary/Christian education to people who normally could not attend (professionals, parents, etc).

    3. By opening up seminary and Christian education up to people who normally could not attend we are helping educate the church on very important issues that are often "not" dealt with in the local church (history, greek, hebrew, technical doctrine, etc). So we are creating better educated preachers, Sunday School teachers, deacons, etc.

    4. Online/Distance learning creates students who are more capable of doing self-motiviated research (etc). Often those who need step by step guidance, and who are not self starters, often can't do distance learning. So those who pass a distance learning course, or get a degree online, show that they are self starters and that they are capable of doing research on their own (etc) and may have done better research than on-campus students (ie...distance learning is more demanding). On this point, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's distance learning webpage make the following statement(s)...

    "The bottom line is this: an online course is not easier, nor does it take less time than a regular course. Some students say it is harder than a regular course; most students say it is about the same. Most students taking their first online course say it takes more work than they originally thought it would; yet most of them had wrongly assumed online courses are short and easy...There are some disadvantages of online courses. An online student must be a self-motivator to keep up with the assignments—and not everyone is able to keep up with such demands. " -Source

    So, what do I believe needs to happen?

    Up front please allow me to me say that I believe that these changes not only need to happen but will, if only by reason of demand, happen over the next few years. Schools need to offer classes and/or degrees online. Many schools are already doing this. For example at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary a student can earn a good chunk of his/her degree online. This enables a student to start on their degree before they actually have to move to campus or start long commutes. Thus saving time, money, and gas. Other schools need to follow this trend. Not only that schools should consider offering at least one degree online. I would like to see Southeastern, and other schools, offer maybe a basic MA online (maybe in Christian Studies, etc). Maybe they could offer the basic MDiv online with limited on-campus requirements? These are ideas that many schools need to look at. Schools like Liberty University, Southern Evangelical, Luther Rice, Temple, and Moody are already doing this.

    Another thing that needs to happen, and this point may rub some the wrong way, is the cracking down on online degree mills. The various state governments would have to do this. But Universities and Seminaries can help by offering their accredited programs online or partially online. This way people will be less likely to buy their degree from a degree mill. Another point here is programs that are not up to par. Schools like Covington may not be degree mills, in the technical sense, but their graduate and doctorate programs are not up to the proper standards. Some will attend graduate program at a school like Covington because they could not/cannot do the more difficult program at Liberty (etc). In connection with this point, schools need to work on lowering tuition. One of the main reasons people turn to less than acceptable programs is cost. A person can earn a graudate degree from Covington or Andersonville for alot less money than earning one from Southeastern, Regent, or Dallas. Schools should do the best they can to keep their tuition down. No seminary student should have to pay over $1,000 per course to attend seminary. Yet it is happening and many, who are going into the ministry, simply cannot afford that. Seminaries need to keep their cost down and offer their quality courses/programs online. A good example here, again, is Liberty Theological Seminary. The President, Dr Ergun Caner, has recently said that he is looking for ways to "lower" their tution! Yes, you read correctly...lower tuition. Their seminary tuition is already lower than most others and they are seeking to lower it even more. Put that cost savings together with a quality distance learning program and you have a great model for other schools to follow.

    Well those are my thoughts on quality education...
     
  2. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Good post Martin I would just add a couple more reasons:

    5. Because it equips Christians for ministry and advances the Kingdom of God.

    or simply

    6. Because it is the right thing to do.
     
  3. Sly Fox

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    For the record, Liberty essentially invented the distance learning phenomenon in the Mid '80s with the Liberty University School of Lifelong Learning. (LUSLL). That's part of the reason the school has been ahead of the curve for the most part ever since in DL. Its good to see the mainstream academic community finally coming around to the idea.
     
  4. El_Guero

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    Maybe in the Christian world . . . but, not in the rest of academia.

     
  5. El_Guero

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    Martin

    My experience with DL was dismal at best.

    Wayne
     
  6. Martin

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    ==I know people who have had "dismal" experiences in on campus studies at major universities.
     
  7. EdSutton

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    Uh- How about we correct the record, here? :BangHead: Luther Rice Theological Seminary beat this by some twenty years, as they started doing Distance Learning in the Mid '60s :thumbsup: , there Slylock, 'er I mean Sherlock. :laugh: :laugh:

    Ed
     
    #7 EdSutton, Oct 20, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2006
  8. EdSutton

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Ed
     
  9. UZThD

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    ====

    Thought Trinity of Newberg was doing it before in volume.
     
  10. Jim1999

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    Quality in education is directly related to the effort one expends gaining it, whether this be by home study or in class. The benefit of class is that live people are open to discuss issues.

    I really don't care apples whether a degree is certified or not UNLESS one is pursuing a career in education.

    I wonder sometimes if modern sermons are too educated for the people receiving them.

    Preach to the child in the audience and the lawyers, doctors and educators will also understand. Have we gone beyond simple sermons that say something and effect the desired change in lives?

    I don't have to prove my education by using Ten dollar words, where tuppence worth brings results.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  11. El_Guero

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    Let me see if I undestood you correctly: You want children and adults to come to Jesus?

     
  12. Martin

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    ==Of course is also matters, if the person wishes to pursue further education, wants to transfer credits, or get credits for a degree earned. Unaccredited graudate degrees, online or oncampus, are best avoided. Mainly in our day when there are more than a few solid accredited programs.

    I find it interesting, but very sad, that only in the so called Queen of all Sciences, theology, are unaccredited degrees considered (by some) to be ok. You will not find this to be true in history, business, government, medical science, or any other field. Why should we expect less from those who proclaim and teach God's Holy Word than we do from a banker? Why? I have an answer...we should not.


    ==Actually I think most sermons, that I have heard, are way too simple. This is why we have 50 year old men/women in our churches, who have been Christians some 30 years, and who are Biblically ignorant. I would never advocate turning a sermon into a seminary class but I do believe that sermons should seek to educate God's people in God's Word. They should be taught the accounts (history), the theology (doctrine), and the lessons from Scripture. We also need pastors who can answer tough questions that young people "will" bring them. How can a pastor who has never been to college or seminary (in any form) answer a difficult question about the Council of Nica? Or respond to other claims made by heretics like Dan Brown and the Jesus Seminar? Answer...they can't. Education is very, very important.

    I understand that many pastors can't afford seminary. However there are many resources out there for them today. There are Bible Institutes such as the Liberty Home Bible Institute, that allow them to study at home. There are also online accredited programs such as Luther Rice or Southern Evangelical that allow them to study (graduate or undergraduate level) at home.

    It makes no sense to get a "Master of Theology" degree, or any other type of degree, if that degree is not accredited. Why not? Because without accreditation there is not even a good chance that other schools, businesses, or churches, will acknowledge that degree.

    ==This is not about "ten dollar words", this is about being educated in your chosen field of study (no matter what that maybe).
     
  13. El_Guero

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    Martin

    You are correct when you say that we should expect more . . .

    Have you ever expected your banker to be called of God to forsake all and follow Him for salvation? Have you ever asked a banker that? Do you then expect the banker to be called of God to forsake his vocation and pick up God's calling as a pastor-shepherd-evangelist-preacher-teacher? Have you asked the banker to explain how borrowing money from him will help God work through him, the banker?

    Thought so. Your banker should be proud of your expecting him to be saved and personally called by God Almighty.
     
  14. LeBuick

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    I believe you have a valid point here, more and more I hear folks bringing information to the pulpit that is even beyond the person giving the information. Modern technology.

    This depends on the purpose for the education. If you are learining to be closer to God and to better your walk with him then the degree or the paper it is written on doesn't matter. If you have self gains in mind like how many letters you can get after your name then I guess you have a solid point.

    I strongly disagree, anyone been in a Church or even walking with Christ for 30 years and are biblically ignorant can't blame the preacher. I'm sure they own a Bible, they could have picked it up and read it by now.
     
  15. LeBuick

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    I agree Wayne, and keep in mind preachers are men who were called by God. Most of us didn't choose this profession, we were chose to it. Telling me I'm not the best is not an insult to me, it's a slap in the face of the one who put me in the position. Most Pastors I know can make a lot more money doing other jobs...
     
  16. Martin

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    ==My point was, as I think was very clear, that if bankers (etc) must earn accredited degrees then those in the much more important field of theology should as well. Why do we expect less from a called man of God then we do a banker?
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Is the purpose of a minister adding to his knowledge, whether by attending classes or external studies, gaining accreditation, or better enabling him to preach the word?

    Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to accredited training. I have it, but I also have a Bible College diploma (no degree-no accreditation) and it helped me as much as my degree programs, in different ways.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. Martin

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    ==Ok, lets get rid of the myth. You don't go to school to "be closer to God". Hopefully a good seminary will have that affect but that is not "the reason" you attend a school. You become closer to Christ through your daily walking with Him, your daily time with Him in prayer, and in His Word, and fellowshipping with fellow believers. You don't need school to do those things.

    School is about working towards a goal. That goal maybe a police officer, it maybe a lawyer or doctor, it maybe a school teacher, or a business man. You attend school to learn the skills needed to do a job, or to gain the knowledge you need (in your field) to be in a certain profession. Being a pastor is a calling, it is a lifestyle, it is a mission, and it is also a profession. People going into the ministry attend seminary to be better prepared to serve God in the profession He has called them to (ie...the ministry).

    You also don't attend school to get "letters" behind your name. Those letters are listed, on resumes, on academic catalogs, on office doors, to show academic achievement and to show that the person is qualified to do the job they are doing. I am sure you don't down play the letters behind your doctors name.


    ==That is true, but preachers do bear a load of the responsibility. The vast majority of preachers out there are not doing a good job preaching the whole counsel of God. They either preach "sermonets" or they are also giving Gospel messages, or life lesson messages. There are many, many exceptions to that of course. However many of today's pulpits do not thunder as they once did.
     
  19. LeBuick

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    Dbl Post...
     
  20. LeBuick

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    I agree, I think you made a great argument for the purpose of Christian education. And as freely as it was given to us, so shall we give.
     

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