Vice Principal, Tim Foster shares how he first resisted offering a full online degree.
There is no one more zealous than a convert. That is certainly the case with me.
I have been converted to the value and virtues of online theological education.
For more than a year I opposed the proposal of Ridley’s accrediting body, the Australian College of Theology, to allow the delivery of a full degree online.
I had good reasons for my opposition. I was concerned about educational quality. Good learning is interactive and community-based, and I couldn’t see how this could be achieved sitting in front of a computer.
But most of all I was concerned about the way students would be formed online. At Ridley we are committed to forming the heart, not just the head. As Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1b). Spiritual formation happens through relationships, mentoring and culture, and it was unclear how these could happen in an online environment.
So why the conversion?
The bottom line is that I was comparing the on campus experience with poor examples of online learning. When online is done well, and Ridley is investing over $1 million in developing our online program, it can offer educational and formational outcomes that are every bit as good as the outcomes for on campus students.