Friday, September 13, 2013

Teaching Online (Part X) - A Christian Influence Online

     Glad you have started to read Part X in this blog series, some will automatically skip this one without giving it a chance to see the dramatic difference it can make. It is important to note that an instructor does not have to teach at a religious affiliated school in order to teach with a Christian influence in mind. Whether you teach at a large state school, a prestigious ivy league school, or even a well known party school, allowing your teaching to be influenced by christian attributes can revolutionize how you impact your students.
     Christlikeness, Truth, Excellence, and Service are the core values that we here at Lipscomb University strive to promote. This is no different online, although it is an unique challenge and must be thoughtfully promoted in order to take place. As an instructor of online students you may be the sole contact as far as Christian example and activities go. Online students are not necessarily participating in chapel or Christian organizations and activities on campus. Focusing on ways to promote a Christian influence through your welcome message, introduction, discussion posts, and all around interaction with your students will help. Spend some time thinking on how this can be accomplished in your course, but here are some ideas to get you started.
  • Daily/weekly scripture on your news/bulletin board area with or without a few of your thoughts.
  • Ask each student to volunteer for a week to post devotional thoughts in the Student Lounge (social discussion board)
  • Start off Adobe Connect or Tegrity sessions with a prayer
  • Keep a running prayer request list on your course home page for needs/requests of students and their families/friends
  • Be involved and care
     If you are a professor at a state school you may be the sole Christian example even in your
traditional face to face classes and not as free to include things like prayer, scripture, and devotional thoughts. However, you can still teach both traditional and online courses with christian attributes. In an upcoming blog post we will discuss cheating and the difference teaching with christian principles can make, but that is one example of how you can affect your students. Now will you eliminate cheating, of course not, but a student is less likely to cheat in a class where they have a relationship with the professor or at least knows the professor cares. Which leads us into one last point. 

     Back to the idea in Teaching Online (Part VII) - Building a Course Community, teaching is caring and so is ministry. The very root of being Christlike is showing that you care and being willing to be involved is someone else's life through prayer, service, & mentoring. Imagine if all professors taught with ministry and mentoring in mind. If you don't currently teach that way than I challenge you try it, and see the difference in your students as well as the difference that results in you.

     If you would like to know more about what it means to be a "Distinctly Christian University", check out the Prezi below that we use as a part of our Integrating Faith & Learning workshop here at Lipscomb University. Next blog we will discuss the importance of being flexible when it come to online learning. If you have any other ideas for maintaining a Christian influence online please make sure to post them in the comments below. Have a great weekend!