Perceptions Of Spiritual Formation Among Nontraditional Seminary Students -- By: Jake Dunlow

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 04:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: Perceptions Of Spiritual Formation Among Nontraditional Seminary Students
Author: Jake Dunlow


Perceptions Of Spiritual Formation Among Nontraditional Seminary Students

Jake Dunlow

Jake Dunlow holds a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as senior pastor of Vassar Road Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, New York. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary’s New York campus.

Higher education, while never a completely stagnant field, is experiencing what has been called a ‘flurry’ of changes in recent years, driven mainly by technology. The technology of inexpensive computers, high speed internet, and high quality multimedia educational delivery systems have allowed for increased flexibility in higher education so that students can easily take courses and earn degrees from colleges and universities that are in different cities, states, or even countries through means of nontraditional education. As one writer has noted, we are in the midst of a “distance-education boom” that is taking place, with the main reason being “a convergence of AV hardware, networking, and collaboration software technologies that collectively enable teachers to deliver good interactive online education.” Along with online education, another form of nontraditional education has grown in popularity, that being hybrid education.

Both online and hybrid forms of nontraditional education owe their existence to modern technological advancements.

Theological seminaries are also experiencing effects from the ‘boom’ of distance education. Nontraditional education courses have become increasingly available in seminaries throughout the country. Though there are challenges with theological institutions of higher learning using nontraditional education, more schools are starting to see the potential it offers. Yet, this potential is tempered by the reluctance of some institutions The reluctance stems from a variety of issues.

A major issue that causes reluctance among theological schools is the fear of “emphasizing convenience over quality.” This fear of being promotionally driven has given rise to much of the criticism among schools that are weighing distance education options. A second issue that is raised among schools considering, or that are engaged in distance education, is that there can be too great a focus or “undue emphasis” on the delivery system or technology and too little focus on the contribution a learned faculty member can bring or on the importance of involving the student adequately through the learning experience. While these first two issues can be true of any higher learning a final issue that comes with distance education particularly deals with the...

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