Guest / Limited Access /
Christian Colleges Try Massive Online Courses
Christian Colleges Try Massive Online Courses

When Jon Craton enrolled in an online class on artificial intelligence last fall, he was just one of 160,000 students—a far cry from his previous experience at Taylor University. At the Christian liberal arts school in Upland, Indiana, 59 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students.

But his AI class, taught by Stanford University's Sebastian Thrun and Google's Peter Norvig, was the first course of its kind—a massive open online course (MOOC) offering expert-taught, elite-level classes free to anyone. Now, other leading institutions are jumping on board, launching MOOC platforms such as Udacity, edX, and Coursera.

Christian colleges are embracing MOOC elements as well, though many schools remain concerned about sacrificing the benefits of in-person learning communities.

Dean of online learning Jeff Groeling says Taylor hopes to integrate MOOC elements into its existing 150 online courses in ways that stay faithful to its Christian commitments. "Christ discipled people face to face," he said. "Granted, tech didn't exist then; but we're trying to follow Christ's model."

Students' in-class experiences often set Christian schools apart from competitors, says David Nystrom, provost at Biola University in Los Angeles. The school recently launched Open Biola, a MOOC-style platform that offers archived classroom content for free.

Nystrom says Open Biola, which differs from the school's for-credit online courses, embodies Jesus' teaching of "disinterested goodness," or giving without expecting anything in return. "We are doing this because we think that there's material here that could be of benefit for God's work worldwide," ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSurprised by N.T. Wright
Subscriber Access Only Surprised by N.T. Wright
The Bible scholar's goal is to massively revise the way we talk about the Christian faith. By many accounts, he's already succeeded.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickThe Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
The Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
Why it may (or may not) be okay to watch adults beat up on one another.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.