What Does Distance Education Look Like at LBS?
“So do you have distance courses?” This question made it apparent that LBS would need to offer distance education if it were to accomplish its mission. But that meant pursuing accreditation. Four years of hard work and substantial investment paid off when the seminary became fully accredited in 2013. With accreditation accomplished LBS immediately designed a distance education program.
LBS launched a distance education program in September of 2013. Our approach blends two methods of communication and assigns the student to a local mentor. The first method of communication involves students participating in real-time classes through internet teleconferencing. This means that distance students can see and hear the instructor as well as participate in classroom discussions. This works so well that one student said, “Even though I’ve never been to Fergus Falls, I feel like I’m really part of the class.”
The other method includes the stuff of the internet: websites, online discussions, and the accessing of course materials. The classroom sessions and weekly online office hours between instructors and students are recorded using teleconferencing software so that both on-campus and distance students who are unable to attend can view and listen to sessions later.
In addition, the seminary has invested in software, which provides a place for the instructor to distribute materials to students as well as to collect and return assignments. This software provides the platform for conducting website discussions in chat rooms.
Distance education at LBS has been designed so that the distance students have a learning experience that is nearly equivalent to that of the on-campus students, using both communication methods and the latest in communication technology.
Dr. Allan Bjerkaas serves Lutheran Brethren Seminary as the Director of Distance Education.