Probably the greatest benefit of online education is the incredible convenience that it offers. Unlike a traditional class, online courses usually don’t have regular meetings (though there are still due dates for assignments and exams, and you may have scheduled meetings or “chats” occasionally). As a result, you can do your schoolwork and studying based around your schedule. Students do not have to quit their jobs, resign from their local church leadership positions, and move to a 4-year on-campus Bible college. Also students can implement leadership principles and practices within their local church instead of waiting 4 years to graduate to do so.
Cost can be a big factor. WU is committed to offering you the highest quality education at the most affordable rate. Since one of our purposes is to make education available to all, our tuition rates are affordable to most students. What better educational opportunity can one find that includes high quality and affordability? Last of all, because our programs are completely online, you do not incur any travel expenses!
Courses are self-paced within a 16-week term. Lectures, coursework, assignments, questions, and discussions all take place at your convenience – online. You’ll never have conflicts with family obligations, business travel or vacations. There’s no chance of arriving late or missing a class because of illness or lack of child care. You can even come to class in your pajamas! You choose the hour of day (or night) to attend class. You choose the place – at home, at work – wherever you have access to a computer and the Internet. Except for turning in assignments when they’re due, your schedule is totally up to you.
The online learning platform allows students to study where and when they want, to concentrate on course material that’s new to them, and to test out of material that they already know. At the beginning of every course, the student will take a brief pre-test to find out how much they already know. The pre-test aids the student and their instructor in strategizing a study plan for the course. This process familiarizes students with the course and equips them to accelerate their progress if they so choose. Proctored final exams are scheduled, at the student’s convenience, once the student has completed the course.
“Wait — how can there be more communication in an online class if I never actually see my teacher?” It may sound strange at first, but you’ll often have more opportunities for more direct communication with your teachers (and classmates) in an online classroom. Instead of being limited to asking questions during class or office hours, you’ll have direct access to your instructors via email or message boards. This can be especially helpful for students who are normally a bit shy or reserved in a traditional classroom setting — online, you can take the time to develop articulate questions and responses without worrying about your nerves getting in the way. The online environment makes instructors more approachable. Students can talk openly with their teachers through online chats, email and in newsgroup discussions, without waiting for office hours that may not be convenient. This option for communication provides enhanced contact between instructors and students. In addition, you can meet and interact with students and ministers from all over the world! Because online institutions often offer interactive online forums for informal conversation between students, there appears to be an increased bonding and camaraderie more than in traditional class environments. Online courses provide students with ongoing, individual and group dialogues with the instructor and the other students. Additionally, students receive personalized instructor feedback and can share insights and information with fellow online students.
Within an online asynchronous discussion structure, you have time to carefully reflect on each comment from others before responding or moving on to the next item. This allows you to articulate responses with much more depth and forethought than in a traditional face-to-face discussion situation where you are forced to analyze the comment of another on the spot and formulate a response or otherwise lose the chance to contribute to the discussion.
Within an online discussion, you will respond to the course material (lectures and online articles, for example) and to comments from other students. Participants usually respond to those topics within the broader conversation that most interest them resulting in several smaller conversations taking place simultaneously within the group. While it is expected that you will read all of your classmates’ contributions, you will become actively engaged only in those parts of the dialogue most relevant to your needs. In this way, you are in control of your own learning experience and can tailor the class discussions to meet your own specific needs. Ideally, you’ll make your own individual contributions to the course while at the same time take away a unique mix of information directly relevant to your needs.
In the online environment, learners retain a considerable level of anonymity. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent. Instead, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and your ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand. Participating online is much less intimidating than “in the classroom.” Anonymity provides students a level playing field undisturbed by bias caused by seating arrangement, gender, race and age. Students can also think longer about what they want to say and add their comments when ready. In a traditional class room, the conversation could have gone way past the point where the student wants to comment. Students often feel that they can actually listen to the comments made by other students. Because everyone gets a chance to contribute, students are less irritated with those that “over contribute” and can ask for clarification of any comments that are unclear.