This week, a lively discussion arose off the post about "online seminary education."
Point via the Rev. Jim Hammond: "... Community is an important aspect of theological formation, and I do not see how that truly can be accomplished online. When I attended seminary, I believe that those who lived 'off campus' missed in some respects important aspects of communal life even though they were present for classes, worship, meals and other events. There is something about living in community which I believe is fundamental to the process of formation if not also education."
Counterpoint via Margret Hjalmarson, Ph.D., whom I happen to know is an associate professor of Mathematics at a large research university: "There are synchronous models where students meet by video-conferencing (more widely available) or asynchronous models where work is completed independently. There are also hybrid course models where students may meet face-to-face quarterly or monthly and online more often. One thing to consider is who is being kept out of seminary (e.g., rural folk, folks with family obligations) because they can't afford the time or money required to either live close to or live at a seminary."
Several other good points were made both about the need for community and the accessibility that online classes provide, including from recent seminary grads and from people who would like to get to seminary before they reach midlife (whenever that is these days). Ann Fontaine also talks about the success of online learning in Education for Ministry.
Have you ever taken an online class? Do you feel like you got as much out of it as you would have if it were taught in person? What are your thoughts on how this might be good for seminary education, or not? You can add to the discussion by visiting the Facebook link to the post.