Taking Advantage of Online Learning Opportunities

Taking Advantage of Online Learning Opportunities

OnlineIn a recent education event, John Roberto from LifeLong Faith Associates stated that congregational educators need to move away from being content creators to being content curators. His point was that we often spend a lot of time and effort creating curriculum and courses, handouts and PowerPoints in order to teach those under our care. However, we sometimes needlessly duplicate what others have already done for us.

Online learning is definitely not a new phenomenon or even something of which most people are unaware. But your average person probably does not realize just how much can be learned online nor how high quality some educational offerings are. To Mr. Roberto’s point, we need to be more aware of the high-quality education offerings that are available to us and our congregants. The great news is that many of these offerings are available for participation at one’s own pace and available at low or no cost. Further, self-education used to mean slogging through a book or workbook with little or no feedback or interaction with other learners. Today’s online offerings provide not only a diverse array of media for people of various learning styles, but there are also often interactive components that enable us to learn together.

Below are some of the most current great resources out there to further learning in your congregational context.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
MOOCs are courses that are designed to provide a quality learning experience to a large audience over an extended period of time via the internet. The hallmark of these courses is that they provide high quality learning from expert professors to a vast audience and do so at low or no cost.

MOOCs rely on a diversity of media that benefit various learning styles. They often consist not only of recorded video or audio lectures but also articles, websites, books, quizzes, tests and discussion forums.

Two of the prominent MOOC organizations today are edX and Coursera. Both offer a large number of courses on various topics of technology, business, marketing, statistics, language, the humanities, etc. edX is currently offering these courses which may be of interest:

“World Religions Through Their Scriptures” from Harvard University

“Jesus in Scripture and Tradition” from Notre Dame

Coursera presents these lessons:

“Social Media Marketing.” from Northwestern University

“Conversations That Inspire: Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change” from Case Western Reserve University

The above four courses are just a small sample of the great learning opportunities available from MOOCs.

On-Demand Education
MOOCs usually have a specific start and end date and therefore can be tough to fit into a busy schedule. However there are other organizations that provide what’s called “on-demand” learning opportunities. While these courses may have less in the way of interactivity with other learners, you can truly do them at your own pace and start and finish any time.

Two of the best known organizations that offer this type of learning are Udemy and Lynda.com.

Udemy offers courses on an incredibly wide variety of subjects. It currently features courses from renowned New Testament scholar and theologian, N.T. Wright. Udemy courses are reasonably priced on a per-course basis.

Lynda.com began as a platform that specifically taught how to use software (like Microsoft Excel, Camtasia Studio, Adobe Photoshop), but has since has been acquired by LinkedIn and is now offering courses in the broad categories of business, design, audio, music, technology, etc. Lynda.com is a subscription based service in which one subscription allows access to most of the courses.

“Strategic Planning Fundamentals” with Mike Figliuolo from Lynda.com

“WordPress Essential Training” with Morten Rand-Hendriksen from Lynda.com

It is worth becoming well versed in online educational offerings. Odds are there is a need somewhere among your staff or congregation that can be met with this high-quality, low-cost solution.

Matt Burke
Northeast Director and Education Director