Is Online Learning For You?
The CTS M.A. in Deaconess Studies program is designed for those students who:
- Do not have the time or ability to attend a physical class for a full academic quarter; and
- have served at least 5 years in a congregation or institution, where their work has included an element of spiritual care (e.g. parish nurse, care ministry in a congregation), and will continue to serve in this way throughout the course of their study.
At CTS, the online courses are graduate-level, with the same content as the courses offered in the classroom. However, the way in which they are offered will be different. Students study in their home or place of work, receiving their instruction via the internet through recorded sessions, short videos, online discussions and written material. These courses require focus, self-discipline, motivation and determination.
In order to be successful at online learning, students should have the following ‘soft’ skills:
- ability to work independently
- self-motivation and self-discipline
- ability to manage their time wisely
- ability to communicate effectively in writing
- comfortable asking for help if it is needed
At a minimum, students will need to be comfortable working on a computer and particularly with sending e-mail and using the Internet. In particular, students need to be familiar with the following technology skills:
- sending/receiving e-mails and attaching files to emails
- opening or sending an e-mail attachment
- using an Internet browser
- word processing, using software such as Microsoft Word
- downloading files
- saving files and locating saved files
- creating new folders or directories
- downloading and installing software programs
- copying and pasting information between documents
Online students are required to have a computer and Internet access, with a broadband connection (a dial up connection will not be adequate). It is important that students have a quiet place to work without distractions, and where they can listen to audio files.
There will be an introduction to the relevant technology at the beginning of each online course. Students will have access to online tutorials, and during the course technical help and support will be available from CTS staff.
Students must be prepared to spend a certain amount of time each week on their courses. A general rule of thumb is that each online course will require around 15-20 hours per week, depend on the background and ability of the student, as well as the type of course. Generally, this will involve logging onto the course every weekday, as well as completing assignments off-line.
Each online course will only be offered once per academic year. It is important that students participate in the course during the prescribed time so that they can participate in discussions with the other online students and with the instructor.
Those enrolled in the M.A. in Deaconess Studies program as full-time students must be able to travel to Fort Wayne and spend two weeks on campus, twice per year, to take the intensive courses. These will take place in January and July each year. Following the intensive courses, students will generally have four weeks to complete and hand in their assignments.
Those students who find the full-time schedule to be difficult may choose to enroll as part-time students. Generally, part time students will take two online courses and two, two-week intensive courses per year.
Courses will generally be assessed based on three factors: Student participation in discussions (online or face to face), student performance in quizzes and exams, and grades on exercises, projects and assignments. Each course syllabus will list clearly the way in which the final grade will be made up. In some cases students may be required to obtain a proctor for exams, but this will be explained by the course instructor.
Each student’s parish pastor will be asked to act as their mentor, and to oversee their work. The role of the mentor will involve answering urgent content-based enquiries, providing guidance on coursework, and acting as a discussant for topics that arise during the course. It is hoped that mentors will also allow students access to their libraries. Mentors will be paid a small honorarium for each course.