Moving Traditional Seminary Training Beyond Online Education

by Alex Joseph

The year 2020 has brought new challenges and concerns to many institutions of higher learning as they wrestle with the role online education plays within their educational context. With new challenges comes the opportunity to carefully consider unique solutions. At Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College (SES) we have come together to think carefully about how to best meet the needs of our student body academically, relationally, and professionally.

The fact that SES has been an innovator in the online education space for years (we have been live-streaming our classes for quite some time) is very beneficial in these trying days. Rather than deploy emergency measures, we have embraced these current challenges and taken the next step of moving beyond mere online education by providing a fully immersive and community-based digital campus experience. This digital-first approach allows SES to retain its academic rigor, while providing stability to people in need of community during a time of social distancing.

A Digital-First Approach

Our digital-first approach leverages the growing capabilities of technology to re-capture the essence of the beloved campus experience in a virtual format. SES is using this approach to pioneer the way forward in pushing the boundaries of what was traditionally thought to be online education. The utilization of specific software stacks that are integrated and automated allow us to bring forward creative solutions focused on the needs of our student body. The guiding principle of SES’s digital-first approach consists of having a fast rate of adoption with technologies and student engagement which results in student success. Our end goal is to do everything we can to see our students succeed academically and within the communities in which they find themselves, both inside and outside of our institution.

The Digital Campus Experience

The result of our unique digital-first approach, the SES digital campus is a centralized web hub for the student body within Canvas, our learning management solution of choice. The goal of the digital campus is to provide a centralized space where students can have a shared digital landscape that is fully equipped with industry leading live-streaming, cloud-based office suites for collaboration, community participation events, and the ability for students to engage their peers in clubs, conversation, or research.

In addition to housing both live-streamed and recorded courses, this hub is fully equipped with our newly added Digital Theological Library which gives our students access to over 650,000 eBooks, thousands of journal titles and peer-reviewed articles, and much more. The digital campus also houses student orientation, chapel, student-led clubs, fully integrated social media, SES publications and broadcasts, Student Government Association (SGA), event spaces, and much more.

Our goal is to help students succeed. That is why we are constantly analyzing what student success looks like no matter what challenges we face. The SES digital campus focuses on what students need and desire most in these challenging times, a sense of connectedness and flexibility while achieving their goals. At SES, the digital campus never closes, students always have access to the services they need, and we aim to serve students wherever they are in the world.

These deliberate efforts move traditional seminary training beyond online education and outside the classroom into a more immersive digital campus which serves the needs of our student body both academically and relationally. We believe this move, combined with our uniquely integrated approach to theology, philosophy, and apologetics, will enable us to more effectively equip our students to proclaim the Gospel, engage the culture, and defend the truth.

To learn more about SES’s unique approach, and if seminary training may be right for you, download our free ebook at the link below.

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