Baker's Guide to Christian Online Learning

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Christianity & Online Learning

When I was in college, I read through the writings of Francis Schaeffer.  One of the things that struck me was his contention that ideas (particularly those concerning truth) move through the world in stages.  In The God Who Is There, Schaeffer presents a staircase (below his famous line of despair) and notes that the shift in truth affects philosophy first, then art, then music, then into the general culture, and finally into theology.  I’ve heard it put more broadly concerning cultural trends – first they hit the academy, then a decade later they permeate popular culture, then about ten years after that the church finally embraces the trend.

This makes me wonder about the Christian community’s response to online learning.  On the one hand, entrepreneurial Christians have been promoting non-traditional learning models for years.  Whether we consider Moody Bible Institute’s 100+ year foray into correspondence and distance education or the Institute of Theological Studies’ work in making seminary-level courses available on tape, then CD, and now MP3s for almost forty years, we’ve certainly had pioneers in the field.  At the same time, however, there’s still significant resistance to the use of online learning environments for theological education.

I don’t believe that all churches, ministries, and schools should rush to put their courses online but neither do I accept the argument that online learning is antithetical to a Biblical model of education (particularly when contrasted to an institutional/classroom model). I see online learning as an area in which we should be not merely involved but genuinely leading, through quality teaching, training, research, writing, and service.

I wonder how we can do this more effectively…

Creative Writing from a Christian College
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