The Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology will launch two new online courses: Ministry of Justice and Charity as well as Christian Anthropology on Oct 21.
The main reason why these online courses have been introduced is due to alumni feedback provided in several surveys conducted by the University.
Father Christopher M. Ciccarino, associate dean of the School of Theology, said that these courses provides the University with, “an opportunity to reach out to students who are interested in taking a course but can’t come here or for our alumni who say looking back at it I now see something that was missing or I have continuing education funds I’d like to do another course I can’t to a whole degree program.”
When concerns arose regarding the effectiveness of online courses, Father Ciccarino asserted that the school is doing everything possible to ensure that live discussions, live video chats and discussion sessions will be provided to the students to promote a group learning environment rather than a solitary one.
Christian Anthropology is one of the key modules or courses within the school and a majority of its course content is based on a more spiritual guide, rather than an informative one.
The spiritual aspect of the class would be enhanced by discussions and the exchange of ideas during classes; this process is not ensured through online courses, however, Father Ciccarino stated, “We will never know until we try.”
Nicholas Hession, a senior in the School of Theology, expressed his worries and concerns stating, “Dialogue is very important, and I feel like dialogue is kind of the best way to learn.”
Hession said he has greater interest in regular classes over online classes. However, it is worth noting that these classes are mainly targeted towards students who are incapable of reaching the school campus or who want to continue their education after they have graduated and dispersed around the country.
Recommendations for students who are interested in taking up online classes include, designating time to revise online content, forming study groups to promote discussions and going to office hours as well as attending group discussions online and live video chats with professors.
Hession said, “these classes would be specifically beneficial for commuters who can’t drive to campus every day, but as far as the learning environment attending the class is always a little better.”
Both professors and students have expressed worries about the high likeability that students will slack off within the online learning environment, as all of the responsibility falls upon them. Because of this, the students are more likely to give themselves more leeway when it comes to completing readings and revisions as well as adhering to assignment due dates.
Overall, the School of Theology is exploring different methods of education and examining the views and feedback of previous students and alumni in order to improve the school.
Nora El Houssini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.