Online Learning from Start to Finish
As part of Tyndale Seminary’s Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program, students can now complete an MTS degree fully online. Over the past year, Tyndale has taken an important step in making all 10 core courses, plus over 17 electives available to students online.
According to Dr. Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Associate Academic Dean of the Seminary, this has been a careful and well-planned step for the faculty, especially for courses like Spiritual Formation where the “experiential factor” is important for learning outcomes. “We wanted to make sure that offering courses like Spiritual Formation online was done in a credible way where we could be absolutely certain that we would meet the same quality learning outcomes as the traditional course format.”
Given the progress of internet technology, students learning online can experience the same, if not more, unique opportunities to engage with their professor and fellow students as they would in a traditional classroom setting. “We’ve worked hard at understanding the unique pedagogical possibilities for online learning and we have utilized in-house expertise in developing these courses,” states Dr. Neufeldt-Fast.
Increasingly online students have face-to-face access to professors through office hours and video calling. In the near future, “you will have the option of an entire class connecting to a live lecture by camera and where, with the click of a mouse, a student can ‘raise their hand’ and ask the professor a question.”
This year, Tyndale Seminary will offer over 27 online courses. This is to keep up with growing demand. Since 2009, the number of students taking online courses has increased by 46 per cent, which includes a record-breaking Fall semester with 160 online course registrations.
Much of the growing demand for online learning can be attributed to the flexibility it offers students. “There are people who are working full-time or part-time and need a little more flexibility to access courses,” said Dr. Neufeldt-Fast. “Online courses give Tyndale the opportunity to reach students who are unable to access courses in traditional formats for whatever reason.” In many ways, he thinks the MTS online will be a “door-opener” for some students who would never think it possible to come to Toronto and learn at Tyndale.
Although online learning is certainly growing in popularity, statistics still show that the majority of students opt for on-campus courses. Regardless of the learning format students choose, Dr. Neufeldt-Fast states that “Tyndale wants to make learning accessible to students who are called to biblical and theological training from across Canada and the world.”