The experience of Internet-based online Master of Divinity education of students in the Wesleyan tradition
Bruce E. Baxter, Saint Louis University, United States
Saint Louis University . Awarded
The problem investigated in this study concerned the experience of students in the Wesleyan tradition who completed coursework utilizing on-line classes in the master of divinity program of a regionally accredited theological seminary. Of particular concern were the questions of how theological students in a distance learning environment could experience community or spiritual formation.
Asbury Theological Seminary was the research site, and students currently or previously enrolled in the ExL (Extended Learning) program were the population studied. The researcher was involved for one week as an observer of an on-line course. Students in that course were invited to respond to an e-mail survey regarding their experience of the course. Five additional students were interviewed to examine their experience of one or more on-line courses taken through Asbury.
The results demonstrated that students experience meaningful community during their on-line course involvement. They also described the ways in which they experienced spiritual formation during their studies utilizing distance education. There was also the expression from most students that they were pleased with the quality of the content and delivery of the internet-based coursework compared to traditional coursework within their experiences.
This study adds to the growing research involving distance theological education and has implications for the church, both locally and at the denominational level. The availability of quality, accredited coursework over the internet extends the influence of the seminary and offers the possibility of excellent theological education to leaders across age, geographic and physical barriers.
Baxter, B.E. The experience of Internet-based online Master of Divinity education of students in the Wesleyan tradition. Ph.D. thesis, Saint Louis University.
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