SOULSPACE: Fostering the spiritual well-being of online students enrolled at Nazarene Bible College
Alan D. Lyke, Drew University, United States
Drew University . Awarded
SOULSPACE is a computer mediated, small group oriented, moderator facilitated, Internet based program designed to foster the spiritual well-being of online students enrolled at Nazarene Bible College.
A vital spiritual life, an acceptable mastery of relevant academics, and a satisfactory level of proficiency in practics are all important components in the process of preparing persons for Christian ministry. Fostering the spiritual well-being of Nazarene Bible College's online students was the purpose of this project for the following reasons: they have fewer institutional resources available to them in the area of spiritual formation than do their on campus counterparts; they are geographically separated from their classmates; their primary communication with their college peers is by way of the Internet; the relative health of their spiritual well-being is an important aspect of their preparation for ministry.
The method for achieving the project's purpose was to create a SOULSPACE for small groups of online students. The students participated in the groups on a volunteer basis. A melding of effective small group practices with guided asynchronous and synchronous Internet based communication created the environment in which the students interacted. Each group's weekly asynchronous threaded discussion began with the use of sentence starters, to which the individual participants responded based on their faith/life experiences. The balance of the discussion centered on clarifying questions, with the intention of further unfolding the each respondent's narratives. The weekly "in real time" online chat brought further clarity and/or closure to each week's discussion.
The results of the pilot project were overwhelmingly positive, though a number of lessons were learned that will improve the program's effectiveness in future use. In addition, it was determined that other institutions involved in online education could make ready use of SOULSPACE to enhance the spiritual well-being of their constituents.
Lyke, A.D. SOULSPACE: Fostering the spiritual well-being of online students enrolled at Nazarene Bible College. Ph.D. thesis, Drew University.
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