The Christian higher education landscape is changing with the development of online courses and programs. Faculty and administrators are struggling with developing effective learning in an online format. One of the ways effective learning and social interaction can be developed is through online learning communities. The article provides a definition and rationale for online learning communities and best practices gained from the precedent literature and experience in teaching and developing online programs.
Keywords: Learning communities, social interaction, online education, learning, higher education
Cristakis, N., & Fowler, J. (2009). Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company
Garrison, D. R. (2011). E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Hess, M. E. (2005). Engaging technology in theological education: All that we can’t leave behind. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Katz, R. N. (Ed.). (2008). The tower and the cloud: Higher education in the age of cloud computing. EDUCAUSE (http://www.educause.edu/books/)
Lehman, R. M., & Conceiçaˆo, C. O. (2010). Creating a sense of presence in online teaching: How to “be there” for distance learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Maddix, M. A., Estep, J., & Lowe, M. (2012). Best practices of online education: A guide for Christian higher education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2003). The virtual student: A profile and guide to working with online learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Thormann, J., & Zimmerman, I. (2012). The complete step-by-step guide to designing and teaching online courses. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Wagner, R. (2012). Godwired: Religion, ritual and virtual reality. New York, NY: Routledge.
This article provides an overview of Horace Bushnell’s view of Christian nurture and its impact on the field of Christian education. Specific attention is given to how Bushnell’s thesis has been critiqued and how it shapes current approaches to Christian nurture. The article also explores John Wesley’s view of childhood education and conversion. The article includes a conversation between Bushnell and Wesley on issues of original sin, infant baptism, Christian nurture, and conversion. The article concludes by providing practical approaches to developing educational ministries that focus on Christian nurture and formation.
In Christian higher education, most teaching and learning has been confined to the traditional classroom. However, with the advent of computer technology many universities and seminaries are offering online courses and programs. These online courses provide facilitators and teachers with a different learning context. One of the most important social learning components of online learning is discussion forums. These forums provide a context for faculty-student and student-student interaction. For teachers facilitating discussion, this can become an overwhelming task, especially when there is too much or not enough student interaction. This article addresses such questions as: How can teachers ensure that discussion is contributing to learning. How much interaction is necessary and what constitutes effective interaction? How can we ensure that students engage in thoughtful discussion?
This article explores how teachers can facilitate effective online learning through discussion. The article also presents a framework for effective online discussion called the Community Inquiry Model (Garrison & Anderson, 2011). The article provides guidelines for teachers to develop discussion board rubrics and effective faculty-student and student-student interaction in online courses. The article concludes by providing best practices of online discussion based on current research and personal experience in teaching online courses.
The paper provides an analysis of moral development theory developed by Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg. The paper explores the primary critiques of Kohlberg’s moral development theory, including justice (the right) as the primary motivation for morality. The paper examines the research of Martin Hoffman’s view of empathy (the good) as the primary motivation for morality. John Gibbs takes Hoffman’s research a step further by advocating that the primary motivation for morality is co-primary (the right and the good). A Wesleyan view of moral psychology is developed by following Charles Wesley’s famous stanza, “Unite the pair so long Disjoined: Knowledge and vital piety.” This statement is a framework to discuss how empathy and justice become the primary motivation for moral development. The paper argues for a Wesleyan view of morality that includes the transformation of the human emotions and affections by the “means of grace” as a basis for moral development. The paper concludes by exploring how congregations can be a means of grace in shaping and forming moral persons.
Spiritual formation is one of the recognized benchmarks of higher education that is Christian. A communal commitment to spiritual formation is indeed part of the Christian higher education community's DNA, and is in fact reflected in the criteria for accreditation in both the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). However, as many Christian institutions of higher education begin to engage in online instruction, even offering entire degree programs online, how can they affirm their campus's commitment to the spiritual formation of students? This article addresses the question of providing intentional Christian nurture toward spiritual formation in online degree programs. The aim of the article is to inform participants of the challenges and opportunities for student spiritual formation in online degree programs so as to better equip participants to develop Christian nurture initiatives for online students from an informed perspective. To do so the article includes two parts: (a) the development of a theoretical matrix for online spiritual formation, based principally on precedent literature and the experience of the two authors; and (b) a survey of actual Christian nurture and spiritual formation models specifically designed for online programs.
The paper explores the theological and historical relationship between clergy and laity to see if a justification exists for a clergy/laity dichotomy. The paper also explores the intent of Reformation theology and traces the development of the clergy/laity dichotomy's impact on the church today. The paper addresses the following questions: Where and with whom does authority rest? What distinguishes clergy leadership from lay leadership? What was Luther's intent in the "priesthood of all believers"? What are the effects of clergy professionalism and theological training of the laity? The paper argues that the biblical perspective of the "people of God" provides a framework to minimize the dichotomy and to move toward a more shared approach to leadership.