Seminaries at the COVID Crossroads – Thinking Baby Steps

Published initially on 24-April-2020 on FB;

Not everyone has a smartphone, those who have one may barely get access to internet, and even further, the ones privileged to have stronger networks are unable to afford reasonable data plans…sounds bizarre? Students hailing from across South Asia’s relatively remote corners sometimes make more than 50% of our learning constituency. Lockdown continues indefinitely and many still have a long way to get home. Obviously, it is a state of emergency, and, facilitating learning seems nothing less than an absolute impossibility. Simply because, the non-metropolitan school environments lack the essential framework- both in concept and practice- to meet the impending need for an altogether new set of knowledge, approaches and resources. So, we realize, as the #ICETEAcademy administrator Dr. Marvin Oxenham puts it, “We are charting new waters that require prophetic insights, courageous entrepreneurialism, and professional preparation.”

Individual schools must know the concept on which they are planning the alternative models of training. Every course done online is not a valid ‘Online Academic Course’. School leadership and the team of faculty deliberating and arriving at workable solutions will be fundamental in realizing it very well.
“The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning” by Charles Hodges, Stephanie Moore, Barb Lockee, Torrey Trust and Aaron Bond…/the-difference-between-emergency-…

With high regard for the sustainability of both the residential and the online trails, we may need to develop a conceptual setting that helps us make functional distinctions between:
• Plans for a temporary Remote Learning Management and Plans for a concrete Virtual Learning Environment
• Training track for the faculty and Education track for the students during the crisis
• Communication designs for the continuing students and Communication designs for the prospective new admissions
• Working with what we have and Working towards what we would need for a bright future
• Holding the residential training vision healthy and Venturing out with the VLE prospect

Conceptual clarity is key to reaching the right goals. Jumping into inconsiderate and unrealistic actions will prove counter-productive. No pretence here. Once the crisis is over, we shouldn’t be landing on a muddled system of training. Flexibility at this time should not connote lethargy for the future. So, the faculty, staff and students should keep building the community as much as they can using the available resources, continue seeking the divine wisdom for what’s ahead, give more space and grace to themselves, and, most importantly, reach out and serve the suffering community around them with the never-fading Kingdom vision.

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