Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dr. Eldridge & Rockbridge (Part 2)

Just to follow up on the last post, I had a few questions about Rockbridge Seminary and Dr. Eldridge had the answers. It was really an email conversation, but it reads better as an interview. So with a nod to Josh at the Leadership blog, here's a quick interview with the president of Rockbridge :

Me: I have a few quick questions about Rockbridge. I love the concept and the purpose driven approach/integration of theology, history, etc. Do the online classes include multimedia (video via windows media, flash or other) or are they primarily a text based (email, chat, etc.) experience?

Dr. Eldridge: We use PowerPoint, audio clips, some streaming video, but most of the methods are asynchronous threaded discussion, email, and written material. We can do chat rooms, but with students from around the world in many different time zones, that feature is rarely used. We found as did University of Phoenix that you have to deal with the end user which doesn’t have the bandwidth and speed for streaming video and cutting edge technology (particularly students in third world countries).

Me: Will the seminary technology continue to grow in methodology as technology continues to evolve and grow? I think that a "president's blog" or weekly podcast could also be a cool possibility...just a thought!

Dr. Eldridge: As that technology changes, so will our methodologies. Our best features are the projects that students do in their church. These practical applications may be lesson plans, strategic plans, evangelism tracts, brochures, retreat plans, etc. This way the church they are serving benefits from the student’s schooling. I like your idea about blogs and Ipod casts. We are doing Ipod casts at our church beginning this next week. We will use some blogs with our classes, meaning the students will run the blogs as part of their learning activities.

Me: I'm also curious about the size of enrollment (understanding the startup nature of the seminary) and wonder if the lack of direct human interaction has presented any unforseen challenges?

Dr. Eldridge: We started in January of 2004. We have 211 enrolled, 109 registered for classes this eight week term. We anticipate doubling in 2006. All of our classes are limited to 30 students. Faculty usually only teach one course, so we’re pretty interactive with students. Some students say they get more interaction online than they did with traditional residential seminary classes. Our biggest surprise has been the depth of relationships that have developed among students.

Thanks, Dr. Eldridge, for allowing me to post the info from our email conversation, and for leading the way in cutting edge, "global seminary education!"

If you are considering seminary, and understand what "purpose driven" is all about, I encourage you to check out Rockbridge. I didn't "attend" there, but if I was heading to seminary today, Rockbridge Seminary would definitely be very high on my list of schools to pursue.

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