The Seminary: Innovating Through a Global Pandemic

In the midst of pandemic and shutdowns, seminaries around the world were forced to adapt. Many used technology to instruct their students from a distance. Over time, however, seminary leaders realized that delivering high quality theological education online required more than technology. In response, the Overseas Council ministry hosted an Institute for Excellence for leaders and faculty members of seminaries in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA). The purpose was to train them on how to maximize online learning for their students.

The 2021 MENA Institute for Excellence began by simulating an online course environment to help faculty participants understand the experience of their students. Following the simulation, faculty participants attended a four-week workshop on “course design” that included best practices in online learning, and applied learning opportunities. At the end of the Institute, each participant used their learnings to redesign aspects of an existing online course for the upcoming semester.

One participating school was the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt (ETSC). Faculty participants indicated that the Institute was of immediate practical value to them and to their students. One professor reported seeing greater student engagement and learning after his course redesign resulting from the Institute. Overall, 36 professors participated in the MENA Institute with many students set to benefit from improved online and hybrid learning environments.

Impact for ETSC:
• 90% of in-person courses have become
hybrid courses with online components.
• 70% of courses are available online to
include a Master of Arts in Theology.
• 25% more students have accessed learnings
from within Egypt, the region and beyond.
• Online-course design has equipped faculty
with new skills and increased productivity.

Testimony from President of ETSC:
“We have become more aware of the need to upgrade our online courses to be more interactive and student-centered. Therefore, we are currently planning for an upgrade which will make our online program both more accessible for ETSC’s current students and more attractive to a larger number of potential applicants.

“In light of all that, ETSC is so grateful to Overseas Council for such a training and for its coming along schools in the MENA, especially at this critical time of history,” says Dr. Rev. Hanni Hannah, President of ETSC.