Andrews University is a Christian school; and therefore faith integration in online learning is an important value and task. Among other statements, the Andrews University Mission Statement includes this: Andrews University students will seek knowledge as they understand life, learning, and civic responsibility from a Christian point of view. How this is done makes for interesting discussion and research. There are certainly many viewpoints on the best way to integrate faith and learning; as well as different views on what it really means.
Some core issues for online course development and teaching online at Andrews are:
- How does your own faith experience intersect with your teaching and learning?
- In what ways do you encourage students to consider the course content & discipline’s philosophy from a Christian point of view?
- What can students learn or experience regarding civic responsibility from a Christian point of view?
- What are the Biblical foundations that intersect with your course content (as applicable and appropriate)?
What could this look like in an online course? The evidence may come in instructor-student interaction, in discussion on how the Christian worldview intersects with the content knowledge, in how students are viewed and treated as whole persons made in the image of God, in the instructor’s teaching presence. Here are some examples:
- Hosting and encouraging student participation in an online chapel
- Tone of your interactions with students
- Ways that you show students you care – praying for them, helping struggling students, etc.
Another common way to explore the intersection of a Christian worldview and course content is through discussion forums, essays, and/or writing assignments.
- This list of Types of Faith Integration on page 11 of this Azuza Pacific University handbook may inspire questions or writing assignments.
- See page 31 of the same handbook for some questions to help you consider your specific course content and how possible intersections of faith and the content.
- While considering these assignments, remember that you may have non-Christians in your course. Design the assignment in a way that it is appropriate and answerable by all students.
Teaching Civic Responsibility
- Ideas and background: A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum
- LearningToGive: Resources for teaching philanthropy and civic responsibility. Has a K12 focus but may spark some ideas.
- Resources for Faculty on community engagement
- Vanderbilt University’s Teaching Guide on Service Learning and Community Engagement. Includes examples for course activities.
- CIRCLE resources on Service Learning and Outreach.
Are there any natural connections between Biblical perspectives and your course content? Here are a few examples to challenge your thinking:
- Not everything for sale – A Biblical perspective on economics
- Integrating employability skills into the business curriculum: A Biblical rationale
- A Biblical Look at Macbeth
- Sociology: A Biblical Perspective
Note that it is important that these connections be appropriate, thoughful, integrated, and respectful of other faiths represented in your classroom.
Hopefully these ideas provide some background to help you consider how a Christian worldview intersects with your course content – and how best to assist students in their own growth and understanding throughout the process.
Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course. Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.