There have been great strides achieved globally for online education. Acceptance of e-learning, however, has only lately emerged globally. Yet, Allied Market Research predicts that e-learning, or distance education, will become widespread worldwide in the coming years.
In light of this fact, this brief article discusses why theological institutions (seminaries) should consider offering online seminary programs and identifies five benefits.
Online courses are popular due to their convenience. Initially, many educational institutions only offered a few brief courses online. Because they hadn’t seen its effects for themselves, they were wary.
But now, because of technological developments, a heightened awareness of excellent online e-learning possibilities, and favorable student responses, accredited degrees (including those in theology) are offered online.
Particularly for individuals unable to leave their ministry or mission field, the convenience provided by these online learning platforms is invaluable. Pastors and other Christian professionals may be able to balance ministry with further education.
Not only do full-time Christian workers frequent these sites, but so do many lay Christians who wish to learn more about particular subjects. Hence, seminaries can reach more people.
It’s tempting to pursue theological education in a safe setting (such as a seminary, Bible college, etc.). Yet, tuition at a seminary or theological college is relatively high.
Many students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds seek theological studies. To attend one of these illustrious schools, students need church support or a study scholarship. Only a select few can afford to study religion at highly regarded universities or seminaries.
The opposite is true, too, with online courses being cheaper than residential ones. Online education is more cost-effective than traditional classroom instruction. Online education may be a viable option if you are a student struggling to pay for college.
Students can study at their own pace and in their environments with the help of a well-developed and planned online (theological) course. In addition to saving money, taking classes online gives students the flexibility to study outside of a traditional classroom setting. Students from all around the world can take advantage of this opportunity by enrolling in online courses.
This means you can serve in the church or mission field while also taking a theological degree online. The availability of a variety of resources for education means that anyone who feels they would benefit from acquiring or improving their skill set can do so (e.g., ICETE Academy). This doesn’t require you to take time away from your current job or mission. Because it can be accessed from any internet-connected device, online education allows students to study whenever and wherever they like. Also, students and learners can take online courses at their own pace and in the comfort of their own homes.
4. All around education
Learning under the conventional model is confined to a specific location and time frame, taking place exclusively within a designated classroom. However, the advent of e-learning has made it possible to access educational resources regardless of location or time of day. An everyday learning environment enabled by mobile and embedded computers and wireless networks in our everyday life is what online education gives. In addition, students are provided with materials or media texts to stimulate their learning further.
Learners can interact with one another and the instructor or facilitator more effectively with technological and digital tools and resources. For instance, many students feel anxiety about the instructor in a face-to-face setting. Students who normally wouldn’t speak up in class are more likely to do so when communicating with their peers and facilitators (teachers) via messaging apps, emails, forum discussions, or other online mediums.
5. Effective Communication
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all schools of theology have begun implementing some online education, such as virtual lectures via video conferencing apps.
Though some schools are beginning to offer courses online, many others still need to be bold in joining the trend. Online education that does not necessitate the simultaneous presence of students and instructors may take some time to catch on in seminaries located in the Global South.
Nevertheless, combining asynchronous learning with synchronous learning with other peers and teachers/facilitators provides instant benefits. Blended learning, or hybrid learning, is an effective combination of online and more conventional classroom instruction.
Whereas some seminaries are beginning to offer online theological courses, others still need to be more open to making the switch. Those mentioned above are just a few of the arguments favoring online theological education that seminaries should explore. It’s okay if everyone chooses online courses. Nonetheless, the benefits of online learning unavailable through traditional means should not be ignored.