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Online Course Design in Practical Theology

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Designing for What’s Next: From Crisis Response to Constructive Online Pedagogies

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Many of us were thrown into remote teaching as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the location of our work in the spring. Others of us have taught practical theology online for a while, but are seeking new inspiration and rhythms for our online pedagogies. In these presentations and conversations we will explore critical and constructive approaches to teaching practical theology in online and hybrid classrooms. In particular, our presenters will demonstrate how professional, personal, and spiritual formation can occur in online classrooms. We will also seek avenues for the embodied, contextual, liberative, and relational aspects of teaching valued in our discipline to be enacted in mediated environments. Whether you are about to plan your second attempt at teaching online or you are a seasoned online instructor, this is an opportunity for enhancing your teaching capacity in these turbulent times.

Ministerial Formation in the Virtual World: Effective Online Teaching for Practical Theology

Jean-Pierre Fortin, University of St. Michael

This presentation debunks prevailing assumptions regarding online teaching and describes a robust model and process for online courses in practical theology. Emphasizing a “hands-on” experience based approach, this model involves full-fledged integration of synchronous and asynchronous activities: pre-recorded lectures, videos, blogs, discussion forums, breakout sessions, plenary discussions, case studies, role plays, reflective activities, practical individual and group assignments. Students provide the main narrative for the course (their ministerial experience and formation in processing) and the course portal introduces students to new material and tools. The course instructor acts as moderator of pedagogical activities and relational dynamics without being the center of attention. The distance set by technology is breached with the help of increased intentional personal engagement and sharing. Delivered in the form of a conversational commentary, the presentation will include concrete examples and strategies for the application of the model in actual courses.

Understanding by Design, a Liberative Approach for Integrating Technology in Teaching Practical Theology

Israel Diaz, Barry University

Mission as liberation presents an invitation to discern how integrating digital technology into teaching practical theology contributes to the formation of students to mission. To this end, this presentation will discuss how Understanding by Design (UbD) is a reflective three-stage approach to curriculum design that, in supporting the liberative value of practical theology, can guide the integration of digital technology in ways that contribute to the professional, personal, and spiritual formation of students to mission in online and hybrid classrooms. In this task I will present an overview of UbD and its contribution to designing a curriculum that attends to the theology of mission as liberation. I will then offer an application of using UbD to discern the use of digital technology in online and hybrid classrooms that can contribute to the professional, personal, and spiritual formation of students to mission in online and hybrid classrooms.

Moderator: Katherine Turpin, Iliff School of Theology

Host: Jennifer Ayres, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

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