Saturday, June 21, 2008

Creative Technology in Theological Education

Projectors, Software
Keith Dyer, Whitley College says:
“We now have data projectors in the ceiling of each main classroom at Whitley (and accompanying sound systems), so we are working on using PowerPoint (or the superior Apple Keynote software) for more than just lecture summaries with pictures (helpful though they can be). I'm taking my laptop to every class and hooking up with Accordance Bible software running (in the background), indeed, most of the Biblical Studies lecturers in the Melbourne College of Divinity [Melbourne consortium] have now bought Apple computers just so that they can use Accordance software which enables simple or complicated Bible searches, vocabulary comparisons, translational comparisons between Hebrew, Greek, Latin and all English versions to be done on the spot in response to students' questions and portrayed textually, or graphically or with reference to the entire picture library of the Biblical Archaeology Society, the entire corpus of Josephus or the entire Jewish Mishna, just for a few examples. It is an extraordinarily powerful tool and one that could be abused or misused easily but already it has helped sharpen up and brighten up some of the discussions in my classes. I realise that not all seminaries can afford such resources but many can right now, and their availability (like the copies of the Gospels in the early church) will increase greatly in the next few years. We need to use these resources creatively (in life-giving ways) rather than just as a chance to get across more pre-digested content! We need to equip our students to use such resources wisely.”

Seminaries on YouTube and Online
There are many seminaries that are putting lectures on YouTube (or their web site) and making these available for the public to learn e.g. Yale University-Introduction to the Old Testament course.

Videos are also being used to promote the College e.g. Check out the YouTube range from Carey College in Auckland or click on this Introduction to the Carey Faculty. Other videos are at Carey Baptist College Online. The North America Baptist Seminary (NABS) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has a series on YouTube at this link: NABS. Check out the video entitled, ‘Seminary for More than Preparing Pastors’.

Seminary Web Sites
It is amazing to reflect on the way that less than two decades ago, 1992 to be precise, the World Wide Web was launched. Since then so many seminaries have established their seminary web site which has become the chief means of informing prospective students of your style, your teachers, your courses—just about everything is posted there. Often the website is the base for the seminary’s distance education programme.

Frequent newsletters and postings are the name of the game to keep your site fresh and worthy of attracting return visits. Even blogs from the Seminary President and teachers are becoming routine and are informational and promotional tools for communicating with students, staff and supporters.

Geoff Pound says, “As part of my role in interviewing new students, I asked one young man from Singapore how he decided to come and study in Melbourne, Australia. He simply said, ‘The website. I checked out your College’s web site and what I read convinced me that this was the one!” He wasn’t the only student who decided on the basis of what was found on the website. Now websites and email are indispensable for those that have them. Yet, hundreds of Bible Schools around the world do not yet have a website and they operate in places where the Internet link is so hit and miss that email contact is haphazard.

When David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance, was asked about creative happenings that he saw in theological education, he immediately said, “The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut. He added, “I am most impressed by the leadership of Elie Haddad who is the Provost of the Arab Baptist Seminary. He is a walking example of creativity. Read his page on their web site on Preparing Christian leaders for the World. Their annual Middle East Conference is a gem and the material they produce is cutting edge. Many Baptists keep their heads down when there is political conflict—look at the number of MPs in Lebanon who have lost their lives through car bombs—the ABTS seems to get stuck in and makes a valuable contribution to the wider region. Their web site gives many clues about their life.”

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Broadcast Yourself

Related:
Seminaries Offering Web Resources, TWB