Monday, October 27, 2008

Further Thoughts on Technology Advancing Theological Education

Michael Hanson, who is Vice Principal of Living Stones, a Church-based School of Leadership in New Zealand, has been following the recent conversation on this TWB site.

We have been recognizing the paucity of books in many seminaries and offering suggestions that bypass traditional books, including the use of inexpensive laptops, MP3s and reading books onto audio books by way of programs such as Librivox.

Michael wrote to me in these words:

“I was interested in your latest post about the OLPC (One Laptop Per child) project. My background has been in technology and I am passionate about education - particularly theological education, so I see the OLPC project as particularly exciting as a way to bring all this together.”

“I was at a presentation recently that was discussing the use of OLPC and Moodle. I expect that you are familiar with Moodle (www.moodle.org). It is an opensource learning management system that is being used around the world by both large and small organisations for education and training. The project that is underway at the moment is exciting. Moodle is now part of the OLPC project and an area of development that is currently underway is to make Moodle available for offline learning. As you will be aware one of the challenges with the OLPC is that it is being used in areas where internet access is often unreliable and slow. This would make the normal approach to online learning that Moodle uses unworkable as it needs a good internet connection. The off-line Moodle project will allow Moodle to be used for learning purposes even if there is no internet connection. It will use similar technology to that used in the GoogleGears project (http://gears.google.com/) to provide the core functionality of Moodle with or without an internet connection.”

“The application to theological education is exciting. Good quality material and learning could be made available through Moodle with or without an internet connection. If internet was available then interaction could occur through discussion forums etc but when no internet is available then individual learning can still occur. I know that many Bible Colleges and Seminaries currently use Moodle so to make course available would be very easy. Some work would need to be done to contextualise the material but I can see great potential with this.”

“I look forward to hearing if anyone has any direct experience with using the OLPC and how they see it working.”

I also look forward to hearing responses from readers.

Thank you Michael for your contribution.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Moodle, Google Gears, OLPC—part of the new technology that may enhance the cause of theological education.