Thanks for sharing the Thinking and Doing best practices. I found the comments you shared from other instructors related to the building of meaningful and real communities of learners to concur with what we have begun experiencing here at Wesley Biblical. When our online students gather for the campus residencies, our regular campus instructors quickly detect a special bond and dynamism between the distance ed students that does not seem to exist as strongly among the traditional students. I believe this is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit who bridges both geography and time to create spiritual communities that are very real--even though there is limited or no f2f interaction.
Just wanted to let you know that your slides resonated with our experiences.
We have discovered that students can develop a special bond by their interaction online. My seminary training did not expose me to the principles of spiritual direction. I've arrived late to the table. However, I am seeing my role as "teacher" as more spiritual director/life coach as it is content provider. The learner and the Holy Spirit are at the center of the process.
One of our required courses is "The Theology and Practice of Discipleship." In that course, we introduce students to spiritual practices and how to develop an environment of spiritual practices in the church. Student then can drill deeper in our course on Spiritual Formation. However, every course has a spiritual formation dimension, both intentional and spontaneous. Each course requires a student to discuss with a mentor what God is doing in their current life situation
I understand your language of "coming late to the table." When I was in seminary in the mid 70s, the term "spiritual formation" did not surface (to my recollection) in any of our discussions, lectures, or seminary publications. This emphasis MAY have been present and I just didn't catch the term. However, we definitely did not have to take a required course in spiritual formation or discipleship.
The academy has made significant strides, I believe, in the past two decades, in calling each school and all the students to focus on this critical aspect of personal and leadership development. All the "tricks of the trade" possessed in one's toolbox will not compensate for the heart being turned toward God in a purposeful and full-consecrated walk with Him. I am happy to see this emphasis attracting the amount of attention it has even in this technological venue.
Questions: you mentioned that "each course requires a student to discuss with a mentor. . ." Who are these mentors? How are they chosen? In what way, if any, to they report to the school?