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As Harvard Hosts World's Largest Bible Class, Pat Robertson's Regent Launches MOOC

How the apostle Paul ‘beat out Beyonce,’ and how Christian colleges are joining in on online education trend.
As Harvard Hosts World's Largest Bible Class, Pat Robertson's Regent Launches MOOC Courtesy of bobosh_t/Flckr

More than 22,000 students from 180 countries are currently studying Paul's New Testament letters, thanks to Harvard University and edX, which offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) for free.

Professor Laura Nasrallah is teaching "Early Christianity: The Letters of Paul," which "explores the context of these letters in the Roman Empire and the impact of these powerful texts today."

She told the Huffington Post:

The day the course launched was astonishing—like drinking from a fire hose. The edX discussion threads couldn't handle the amount of people who were commenting, and crashed and slowed down. More people participated on Poetry Genius that day than ever before—the apostle Paul beat out Beyonce!

The edX platform was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. Nasrallah's course on Paul is one of 21 courses Harvard offers through edX, while other universities—including MIT, University of California Berkeley, and Rice University—also provide courses on the platform.

Christian universities are getting in on the MOOC trend as well.

Last year, CT explored how schools such as Taylor University and Biola University are testing out MOOC-style courses, yet proceeding with caution. Some Christian educators view "person-to-person interactions" as essential to Christian transformation, while others view MOOCs as a biblical example of "giving without expecting anything in return."

This week, Regent University released its own MOOC platform, LUXVERA, featuring free college courses as well as a series of "GREAT Talks."

"A Christian MOOC can deliver thoughtful and free content to unlimited numbers of people. LUXVERA is elegant, engaging and designed to provide an accessible and extremely affordable education with excellent academic content," said Gerson Moreno-Riaño, dean for Regent's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), and director of the university's MOOC strategy. "Christian higher education has the power to transform and LUXVERA is the means by which Regent and the entire Christian community can give hope for a better life that includes a great education that molds the mind, heart and our actions."

First on the docket for Regent's MOOC platform is a course titled "Who is Jesus?" developed by Corné Bekker, chair of the Department of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry at Regent. The "GREAT Talks" lectures will feature Christian leaders like Regent's CEO Pat Robertson; Paul Bonicelli, executive vice president of Regent and former George W. Bush appointee; and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.

CT has noted the new perspective on Paul, as well as the sudden resignation of Regent president Carlos Campo.

(Photo courtesy of bobosh_t - Flickr)

Posted:January 24, 2014 at 1:51PM
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