Center for Lifelong Learning Rolls Out Online Courses
Starting in the fall of 2014 the Center for Lifelong Learning will offer online courses as part of our programming. The news has been met with both enthusiasm and questions. Associate Dean Israel Galindo has been teaching online courses for over thirteen years. Below, Galindo answers a few frequently asked questions about online learning.
Why has the Center for Lifelong Learning chosen to offer online courses?
This is a great way to expand our lifelong learning opportunities. Many of our constituents are busy professionals, clergy or working laypersons. Travel and time away from busy schedules is often an obstacle to participating in continuing education events. The ease and convenience of online learning makes learning what one needs or desires more accessible.
Can an online course be as effective as a face-to-face workshop?
I’ve been teaching online courses for over thirteen years. In my experience a well-designed online course can be as effective, or more so, than a traditional workshop model. For one thing, the level of interaction in an online course tends to be much higher, and often richer, than is possible within the constraints of a workshop. Participants take part in the course of study at their own pace, help direct the focus of the learning experience, and interact with both the instructor and other participants more directly. The common term “distance education” tends to be a misnomer for online learning. The fact is, if anything, the online learning environment closes the “distance” for instructors and learners.
What is the format?
The format will depend on the particular course offering and its desired outcomes. Some online courses will be four week long intensives. Others may be six to eight weeks long. Most will involve reading selected works and resources, high interactive discussions, and a "real world" project participants will apply to their ministry or work contexts. This is real learning for the real world. The online environment will allow for a wide range of media, including video, online collaboration, podcasts, etc.
What will the Center for Lifelong Learning offer by way of online courses?
Our first online course, in fall 2014, will be “Money and Your Ministry,” co-taught by Margaret Marcuson and me. Marcuson is the author of the book by the same name and an authority on money, stewardship, and congregations.
In the spring term of 2015 we will offer “The Church: A System of Relationships.” In that course participants will explore the application of Bowen Family Systems Theory in the congregational context.