NET: An e-Journal of Faith-Based Distance Learning
A message from the editors:
Many quality journals are published each year on Christian higher education, theological education, and distance education. No journals, however, exist for distance learning in higher education from a faith-based perspective. Until now. The Net fills that needed niche.
Why the title Net? Obviously the reference on one level is to the Internet—the tool that allows us as educators to gather resources, present information, and engage students in learning when they are not on campuses. Net is also a reference to that important tool for catching fish. The Synoptic Gospels all note how Jesus encouraged his earliest disciples to follow him in order that they could cast their nets for others (Mark 1:17, Matt. 4:19, and Luke 5:10). For Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, the net became a symbol of how a simple tool could be used to a greater end. In the same way, the hope of the publishers of Net (the Council of Distance Learning Directors) is that this journal may be a helpful resource for greater creativity and thoughtful pedagogy related to distance learning from a faith-based perspective.
Timothy Paul Westbrook, David May & Rebecca Hoey
Issue 2, Spring 2018
Online Doctoral Students at a Faith-Based University: Concerns of Online Education, Kelly Price, East Tennessee State University, Julia Price, Carson Newman University, Deborah Hayes, Carson Newman University
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Online doctoral education enrollment continues to rise, and the number of academic institutions who offer the degrees are increasing proportionately. Various types of institutions are involved in this growth, including those that are faith-based. Due to the competitive nature of all online doctoral degrees, including faith-based and secular programs, it is imperative to understand the needs and concerns of the students who enroll in such programs. Students enrolled in a faith-based university online doctoral program were surveyed regarding their concerns about online doctoral education. The results revealed three main themes of concerns/non-concerns, and these results could be beneficial to faith-based institutions who offer online doctoral education or plan to do so in the future.
Issue 1, Winter 2015
Online Homiletical Pedagogy as Difficult Conversation, Dave Bland, Harding School of Theology,
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This essay was first presented at the Academy of Homiletics meeting in Louisville, Kentucky during the annual meeting in December of 2013. The theme for the paper presentations that year was “Preaching As Difficult Conversation.” Understandably opposition to teaching performance classes online is strong. I do not minimize these limitations. What I attempt to accomplish in this essay is to use a case study methodology to describe and assess my experience with and practice of teaching a performance course online. First, I begin with observation. I describe the phenomenon of the online environment and context. Second, I assess what I understand to be its strengths and weaknesses based upon my role as a participant observer and on the critique of other written resources. Third, I offer brief suggestions for strengthening my own online class as well as ideas others might consider as they reflect on the online format. This structure provides an organized way of studying my online experience. I am not prescribing but describing and engaging in self-assessment.
Compensation and Ownership: The Current State of Online Course Development at Christian Colleges, Rebecca Hoey, Northwestern College, & Fawn McCracken, Crown College
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Concerns regarding fair compensation and ownership rights have historically been barriers to faculty participation in online course development, but research from the past five years suggests colleges have evolved to develop policies and practices to address those concerns. Nonprofit private Christian colleges have less history offering online programs than their public and for-profit counterparts, and therefore their policies and culture may be less developed. Member institutions of the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) were surveyed to determine the current state of online course compensation and ownership practices at nonprofit private Christian colleges, and to examine potential relationships between compensation, ownership and number of online programs. Findings from participating institutions suggest that the vast majority of CCCU member institutions compensate faculty for their work in course development, and those institutions have policies in place that give ownership jointly or exclusively to the institution. While the mean range for compensation of $1000-$2500 was similar to the mean range reported for course development in the literature, the total range suggests CCCU institutions have a top compensation rate lower than the top rate of public, for-profit, and other nonprofit institutions. There was no relationship between ownership of online courses and the number of online programs at CCCU institutions, which may mean other factors including compensation had more influence on faculty participation in the development of online programs. Future research should examine the efficacy of different compensation structures with respect to faculty participation in and satisfaction with online course development, and the commonalities and ramifications of specific arrangements for shared ownership of online courses.
Character Formation in Online Education, Joanne Jung, Biola University
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Many cannot imagine that real character formation can be achieved in any format other than in the traditional brick-and-mortar model of residential education with in-class face time. Profound character formation, however, can and has happened through quality and effective learning in online education. Good pedagogy toward fostering character formation begins with an understanding of the heart and soul and their relationship to one another. Allowing this knowledge to inform the creation of well-framed questions and prompts while fostering mutual engagement between students and between students with their instructor provides not only higher levels of learning but also lasting character formation in the student. This article addresses a foundational approach to character formation in online classes and some practical, user-friendly techniques to facilitate deeper learning and character formation. These are applied to various features of a learning management system, particularly discussion threads, video conferences, and collaborative documents.
Embracing the Mission: A Case Study of Adjunct Faculty Perceptions of Online Problem-Based Learning for Professional Development, Timothy Westbrook, Harding University
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As institutions of higher education develop programs at a distance, they are challenged with the task of creating a professional community online that incorporates the values and mission of the institution, especially when some of the faculty are part-time. Harding University designed an online orientation entitled “Embracing the Mission” that introduced all adjunct faculty to the university’s history and encouraged each participant to think creatively about how to integrate one’s faith into teaching and learning across various academic disciplines. An online problem-based learning (PBL) model was selected for the orientation’s instructional design. The purpose of this case study was to explore the data that had been collected over three years in order to evaluate how well the PBL design had led to helping adjunct faculty understand the mission of the university and integrate the mission into their teaching. This study collected quantitative and qualitative data, drawing from post course evaluations completed by the participants in the first and third year of the implementation. Findings revealed that the participants perceived the PBLonline orientation to be an effective way to learn the institutional mission. Other salient themes included collaboration, frequent communication by the facilitator, and time as commodity for part-time teachers.