Baker's Guide to Christian Online Learning

News & Views from BakersGuide.com
Sarah Askins is a freelance writer and editor.
Sarah Askins

Social Interaction and the Online Classroom

Many educators and administrators have assumed that online education isolates the learner which may impede the overall learning process. As administrators look to online education to save money, some educators are concerned that online education does not actively foster social interactions needed for learning. According to the research of Michael Freeman in his article Vygotsky and the Virtual Classroom: Sociocultural Theory Comes to the Communications Classroom, Freeman discusses the implications of using Vygotsky's theories of learning and human development in the virtual classroom, and he provides a case study of a Media Writing course that foster social interaction throughout the online course.

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Sarah Askins

Online Learning in Real Time

For many online students, online learning takes place according to the students' schedule, their pace, and typically without any interaction in real time with the professor or other classmates. This has allowed online education to remain a fairly flexible learning platform. According to the case conducted by Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw entitled Stewardship in Distance Education: A Comparative Analysis of Technologies that Support Student Learning, she posits that online learning courses could benefit significantly from real time interactions with the professors and others students. She states this addition of real time learning to the online environment may allow Christian educators to be better stewards of their resources.

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Sarah Askins

Can Online Seminary Courses Aid Spiritual Growth?

Online education has opened up the possibility of attending seminary for those limited by their geographic location. With several seminaries offering online courses or distance education programs, questions have been raised concerning the spiritual guidance gained by attending seminary online. Can a spiritual community be formed that encourages and stimulates each students' faith? According to the research conducted by Mary Lowe her article A Summary of the Findings of the Study:Assessing the Impact of Online Courses on the Spiritual Formation of Adult Students, Lowe found in her study that students did mature in their faith and other factors also influenced this spiritual growth apart from the online course itself.

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Sarah Askins

Online Forums and Critical Thinking

With the online platforms Blackboard and Moodle, more university professors are using these mediums to enhance critical thinking and reflection skills of students. Online discussion forums allow students more time for deeper reflections upon the content of the course material, class lectures, and the collaborative work with other students. In a report by Tene Barber entitled The Online Crit: The Community of Inquiry Meets Design Education, Barber reports how a course adopts an online forum discussion and how it has the potential to foster better critical thinking skills among the students.

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Sarah Askins

Are Universities Ready for Disasters?

April 2011 brought some of the deadliest tornadoes to the South. These natural disasters have directly damaged several university campuses and disrupted the class schedule for many students. One college campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, Shaw University has closed its doors for the rest of the semester due to tornado damage. In the wake of these disasters, how are universities preparing for “academic continuity” for their students and faculty? According to the research of Katrina A. Meyer and Jeffrey L. Wilson in their article The Role of Online Learning in Emergency Plans of Flagship Institutions, many flagship universities have addressed the physical safety and emergency preparedness for its students and faculty; however, many of these institutions do not address how the academic portion will continue in the event of a major disaster.

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