Distance education has come a long way. Seven years ago I decided to try and earn my degree through one seminary’s distance program. It was pretty good, but I still have stacks and stacks of tapes and giant notebooks. The quality of teaching was there… the medium was seriously lacking.
That isn’t the case today. Now seminaries are using technology to help deliver first rate theological education around the world. Now, instead of 37 cassette tapes and 200 pages of notes, you get 1 dvd. On the disk you have .mp3s of you lectures and you notes are there as .pdf as well.
Along with the “work on your own” model, many seminaries are now offering web courses. Now, you can actually log onto a virtual classroom and “sit in” with residential student and watch and hear the professor though streaming video. What’s even better is you now have the ability to actually “raise your hand” and ask the professor a question, whether through text chat, voice chat, or video chat. Try doing that while listen to your tapes.
While there are still big differences between distance and residential programs, it appears that seminaries are starting to embrace and utilize technology in order to get theological training into the hands of as many people possible. I guess what I’m hoping to see next is seminaries starting to lead the way in technology and distance education… Now that will be exciting stuff to watch!