Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Kathleen King, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Donald Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Young, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Fletcher, Ed.D.

Keywords

distance education, educational technology, higher education administration, online instructional design, online learning, theological education

Abstract

Changes in computer and communication technology have sparked an educational revolution. For over 20 years, higher education, as a whole, has been adapting to the changing educational landscape. Christian theological education, which is not immune to changing educational realities, has also been adapting to decentralized educational tendencies and experiencing rapid growth in distance and online learning. Christian theological education appears to be a decade or so behind higher education in its contemporary adaptation to online learning,. Questions that higher education began asking over a decade ago about online learning are now part of the contemporary conversation within Christian online theological education. One of those questions asks, “What are standards of quality for Christian online theological education?”

The purpose of this study was to identify standards of quality in Christian online theological education as well as issues related to implementing these standards of quality. This study was originally planned as an explanatory, sequential mixed methods study. Due to circumstances encountered during the administration of the originally planned study, this study’s approach had to be adapted to the descriptive survey research method. This study was conducted among an expert sample of distance learning professionals from within Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accredited schools.

As indicated by distance learning professionals at ATS-accredited schools, this study: (a) identified 24 standards of quality for Christian online theological education, (b) discovered insights on how well these leaders perceive they are implementing quality standards, and (c) identified areas of both success and challenge when trying to implement quality standards in Christian theological education. These research findings led to two conclusions and produced seven key themes for Christian online theological education. The implications of these findings and suggestions for future research were discussed in order to help Christian theological education not only survive the educational revolution it is immersed in, but to thrive within it.

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