Easy and inexpensive global online learning
There are more than one million pastors and evangelists working in Africa and South America today, and yet many have no formal theological training. Most of these people would love the opportunity to improve their education, but the distances and financial obstacles have simply been too big - until now.
Thanks to an online distance course offered through itslearning, the NET Foundation is helping hundreds of pastors and missionaries in without a developed technological infrastructure get the education they need - in an easily accessible and affordable form.
Online courses without the costs
"itslearning has enabled us to provide high quality online distance learning in countries where it was not possible before," says Raymond Warnaar, Director of the NET Foundation. "Our students don't need to buy expensive hardware or install software to access our courses - they just need a mobile computing device and access to the internet."
According to Raymond, the students also find itslearning very easy to use, which is essential because many of the students have limited technical experience. "The quality of our education has been substantially increased since we introduced itslearning," he says. "We find that students are more active and more involved in lessons."
Encouraging student participation
The online courses are run entirely through itslearning, and students can access all the basic course information and study materials they need through the course page. "The courses are very easy to run," says Raymond. "And itslearning makes it very easy for our teachers and students to personalise the learning experience. Of course, if any of the students do have questions or issues, we can easily help them via email or the in-built video conferencing facility."
To encourage greater interaction from students, teachers set-up topic-based discussions in itslearning's online discussion forums. Students also share their work and assignments with each other using the in-built resource itslearning library, enabling them to get advice and feedback from their peers.
Expanding the network to improve teaching quality
For NET Foundation, the next step is start sharing modules and courses between schools. This will mean teachers can benefit from the work done by other teachers, and will ensure that all schools in the network offer the same high level of education. This approach has already been put into effect in some areas. For example, a number of schools in South America are working together in itslearning to put together a Masters programme designed specifically for South American students.
About Net Foundation
Based in the Netherlands, NET Foundation's vision is to enable Christian leaders, pastors and members around the world - who, due to social, ministry, financial or geographical circumstances, can't participate in a campus-based education programme - be involved in theological education through distance learning programmes.