The latest issue of Didaktikos carries a short essay of mine about presence in online higher education. I’m grateful to the folks at Faithlife for their permission to distribute the essay here, the essence of which is that presence is possible online—it’s just different than it is on campus.
I’ve recently had the opportunity of working through Andrew Babyak’s article, “A Teaching Strategy for a Christian Virtual Environment” (Journal of Research in Christian Education 24, no. 1 : 63–77). A number of Babyak’s reflections are quite insightful and helpful. According to the abstract,
The current landscape in education is changing rapidly as online learning programs are experiencing great growth. As online learning grows, many professors and students are entering into new learning environments for the first time. While online learning has proven to be successful in many cases, it is not a journey upon which Christian professors or students should begin without some preparation. This article articulates a basic Christian teaching strategy by providing recommendations for those who are entering the online environment for the first time or desire to improve their online teaching effectiveness. These principles and recommendations are presented so that Christian professors can create Christian virtual environments in which they can have a significant impact on their students’ spiritual development in an online environment. It is critical that professors design their courses with the needs of online students in mind, ensuring that students of all learning styles are able to excel. Furthermore, professors should understand that online teaching often takes more time than traditional methods of teaching, increasing the importance of clear instructions and communication with students.