The Logos Academic Blog has reposted there my essay from January’s issue of Didaktikos on presence in online education. Received wisdom says that presence is harder to achieve online. Physically, this is hardly disputable … but there also seems to be quite a bit more to the question than is often brought out.
The latest issue of Didaktikos carries a short essay of mine about presence in online higher education. I’m grateful to the folks at Faithlife for their permission to distribute the essay here, the essence of which is that presence is possible online—it’s just different than it is on campus.
Faithlife has launched a new journal specifically for faculty, Didaktikos, which focuses on issues related to theological education. The primary editor is Douglas Estes, and the editorial board includes Karen Jobes, Randolph Richards, Beth Stovell, and Douglas Sweeney. The inaugural issue includes authors and topics of broad interest:
• Mark Noll talks about teaching with expertise and empathy.
• Craig Evans, Jennifer Powell McNutt, and Fred Sanders write about recent trends in biblical archaeology, church history, and theology (respectively).
• Grant Osborne shares wisdom from his 40-year teaching career.
• Craig Keener writes about writing.
• Jan Verbruggen covers some fascinating research into the earliest alphabet (and it’s not Phoenician).
• Joanne Jung has written a helpful article on how to write effective prompts for online discussions.
• Darrell Bock discusses an overlooked area of NT studies.
• Stephen Witmer, an adjunct at Gordon-Conwell, shares solid insights about the synergy between teaching and pastoring.
- Self-promotion and humility
- Online teaching
- Introduction to publishing
- Publishing your dissertation
- Promotion and tenure
- Establishing a research agenda
For more information on each of the webinars or to view the recordings, please see the ATS website.
I’ve recently had the opportunity of working through Andrew Babyak’s article, “A Teaching Strategy for a Christian Virtual Environment” (Journal of Research in Christian Education 24, no. 1 : 63–77). A number of Babyak’s reflections are quite insightful and helpful. According to the abstract,
The current landscape in education is changing rapidly as online learning programs are experiencing great growth. As online learning grows, many professors and students are entering into new learning environments for the first time. While online learning has proven to be successful in many cases, it is not a journey upon which Christian professors or students should begin without some preparation. This article articulates a basic Christian teaching strategy by providing recommendations for those who are entering the online environment for the first time or desire to improve their online teaching effectiveness. These principles and recommendations are presented so that Christian professors can create Christian virtual environments in which they can have a significant impact on their students’ spiritual development in an online environment. It is critical that professors design their courses with the needs of online students in mind, ensuring that students of all learning styles are able to excel. Furthermore, professors should understand that online teaching often takes more time than traditional methods of teaching, increasing the importance of clear instructions and communication with students.
Spiritual formation continues to be an important element in Christian education. As Christian education continues to explore online modes of executing its mission, it is necessary for Christian education to give careful thought to the unique challenges that online modes involve for the spiritually formative aspect of its mission.
As one more preliminary way of puzzling out how “online” and “spiritual formation” might fit together in this context, I’ve uploaded to Academia.edu a draft of a current project that tries to address this question. Comments, thoughts, suggestions, and questions on the project are most welcome either here or on the review session page at Academia.edu.