Entrust Equipping Leaders
How can we best use online platforms to train pastors and church leaders?
December 23, 2022
Dr. Timothy Westbrook of Harding University in Arkansas provides detailed and thoughtful insights about the pros and cons, ups and downs of providing Christian leadership training online.
Guest Dr. Timothy Westbrook. How can we make the best use of online platforms in equipping people in and for ministry?

Dr. Westbrook's Equipping Christian Leaders article https://www.entrust4.org/post/online-pastoral-training-for-international-ministry-networks

Entrust's online learning opportunities https://www.entrust4.org/equippingwomenregisteronline

Harding University's Distance Education program https://www.harding.edu/academics/online

Name  | Start Time  | Text
Todd (intro/outro)  | 00;00;03;16  | Merry Christmas from all of us at Entrust. We're so glad you've found our Entrust Equipping Leaders podcast. Maybe today, while you're wrapping those last gifts or taking a refreshing walk away from the noise, listen in to a chat about using online technology to make a difference in people's lives. Just like this podcast. Digital media is here to stay and God is showing us how to use it well for his purposes.
Todd (intro/outro)  | 00;00;33;25  | Today's guest is Dr. Timothy Westbrook from Harding University in Arkansas. You'll be inspired by all he's learned about how to use online platforms for training people in ministry. So without further ado, here are Dr. Westbrook and your host Laurie Lind. 
Laurie  | 00;00;55;05  | I'd like to welcome our guest today, Dr. Timothy Paul Westbrook, the director of the Center for Distance Education and Bible in Ministry at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Welcome to Equipping Christian Leaders. Dr. Westbrook.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;01;12;12  | Thank you. It's an honor to be here.
Laurie  | 00;01;15;12  | Appreciate you joining us and thank you for writing your article for our blog, also called Equipping Christian Leaders. And the topic at hand today is online learning in general. But first of all, how did you come to be working in the position that you are at Harding University?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;01;33;28  | Oh, yeah, that's a great question. One of the things that's funny about professional organizations, when we get together and talk about distance education, there might be a few young up and coming stars who all their lives they wanted to be an expert in online education or they wanted to be in this field. But most of us just kind of ended up here one way, one way or the other.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;01;58;05  | My first experience with online or distance education was while I was still we're still missionaries. We took a tape course with our our school on Harding. Back then it was called Harding Graduate School, Religion, and then I had an online class that involved listserv email. And then as a so as a student, I had these early archaic versions of distance education or digital education, I should say.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;02;25;02  | And but then when I when I was hired by Harding in 2005, one of the primary tasks that I was assigned to do was for us to develop one or two online Bible classes. The idea was there might be somebody out there that wants to take, and so we need to have a class. We're hiring you to build one and then the rest is history after that.
Laurie  | 00;02;45;09  | Wow. So did you say the very beginning? It was tape. Are we talking cassette tapes?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;02;50;17  | We had we had cassette tapes mailed to us in Hungary from the U.S. We listened to them and took quizzes and wrote papers from that. I learned a lot, but I'm glad that we have other options now.
Laurie  | 00;03;05;07  | That goes back a few generations of technology, but things have changed rapidly for all of us. I, too, remember the era of cassette tapes. Yes. So as was the director for the Center for Distance Education, what are some of the actual aspects of your job?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;03;25;18  | My office oversees all of the undergraduate Bible classes for Harding University, so we don't we don't do. I mean, there are other offices that work with distance ed and other disciplines, but when it comes to the undergraduate Bible ministry and we have a a student population of about 4000, most of those most of those students are not going to be taking online Bible classes.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;03;48;28  | But within the 4000, we have some nontraditional students who who are invited to take online Bible classes. We have students on internships who were away for study abroad program. And so they they'll take an online Bible class while they're traveling. But the primary focus of what I do and it's interesting because my ah, our degree program is actually called Equip at Harding University.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;04;13;05  | So there's a little bit of ideological overlap with with what you're doing, with what we're doing. It could be just a wonderful word. It is. And so we have within equipped we have a degree track where we offer a 128 hour degree in Bible ministry that you can get online or combination of on campus and online. We have it.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;04;35;17  | We have certificate options. So we have a certificate in  Biblical Studies and certificate and Christian ministry and use of the word certification t can be misleading. We're not certifying people to do anything, but this is more of a recognition that they've completed these hours. But but all the all the courses are for credit. And, and then we have the occasional person who just wants to take a class.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;04;58;09  | Also for credit, but they take a class 11a semester just for continuing education purposes.
Laurie  | 00;05;04;05  | Do you actually write some curriculum or do you teach some of those courses?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;05;10;13  | All the above we have currently we roll out about 15 different subjects a semester. And so I'm not teaching all of them or designing all of them, but but I have designed a few and I teach I teach one of the classes that we offer each semester. But we, we hire people. So some of our teachers are faculty at Harding.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;05;31;02  | Some of them are adjunct faculty. And it's it's actually it's about 5050 full time versus adjunct faculty. But I love the fact that we can recruit somebody from Virginia who's a preacher or a pastor there to teach about congregational ministry to our students on online, or a missionary in Rwanda who's teaching about church planning and evangelism. And so it's it's just really exciting to bring these these worlds together like that.
Laurie  | 00;06;00;11  | That is amazing. Like the digital world now. It's not just the certain people that are physically living right there on campus or nearby in Arkansas. Anybody can be on your faculty, so to speak, or adjunct faculty. It's just such a new world that we're in. I love it. So you did mention that certificate of completion in Christian ministry.
Laurie  | 00;06;22;10  | What are some of the the topics that the students study, what kind of projects do they do? How does that certificate work?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;06;30;19  | Well, first of all, all of our classes, especially for the certificate students, they're they're what we call asynchronous. So there's no live time, but they're also dynamic. So I'm a big believer in the concept that the online courses are not digital correspondence courses, you know, a traditional correspondence course, you send them reading literature or something to read or a tape to listen to, like in the old days.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;06;55;14  | And you do the assignments and a teacher checks, you know, checks the rubric or looks at the answer key to see if they got the bubbles correct. And those quizzes that they filled out. I remember those correspondence courses. These classes are very dynamic. All of them involve interaction with professors and the students and I'm a big Parker Palmer fan and his subject centered approach to education, where you hold the subject matter out there and then everybody who's around the table talks about that and you learn from each other.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;07;30;11  | So all of these classes are asynchronous. They all have a heavy written component with discussion boards, and the assignments and assessments might might include quizzes. Typically, I would encourage online to be open books. That way it becomes more of a learning exercise and it reduces the the cheating factor, the temptation to cheat, even in a Bible class, you know, you worry about those things.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;07;58;03  | But then with like some classes we where they're heavy on skills, we also will have group projects and we'll have summative assessments where the students are collaborating together with a goal in mind that brings together everything that they're learning in the semester or in the course. I mean, for that one project.
Laurie  | 00;08;19;25  | Wow. It's a lot of collaboration, a lot of kind of hands on in a way, as much as it can be a.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;08;27;26  | Yeah for me as long as I'm in this the seat at Harding are online education programs will always be hands on so you don't want to learn you don't want to lose that that person to person component to to the learning experience. If it becomes just a, you know, a mass like a very impersonal, large enterprise, then we lose some of the joy and beauty that we have in Christian education.
Laurie  | 00;08;57;24  | In your article for our blog, Equipping Christian Leaders, you said that this certificate you just see it as a win, win, win. Why do you see that as so beneficial?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;09;09;15  | The way I look at this, it's it's an opportunity that benefits both the university as well as the students. So universities have to have tuition revenue to survive. There are ministries that that raise money to pay for student tuition and pay for expenses. But this is a university like like ours. We we live and die by students who sign up and pay for the classes.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;09;37;14  | But we're we're reaching students who are in a in a different part of the world, in different socioeconomic setting. And and so with the with the scholarship fund that we have available to them, it's called the International Christian Leadership Development Fund that pays for all the tuition, it pays for all the books, for all the fees of the students.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;10;00;03  | So the only thing the students had to bring to the table is they have to have their own Internet connections. They had to bring they had to have their own devices to use. And I realized that for some people, that actually is a dealbreaker. But but at the same time, like I mentioned, we've had students all over the world on every continent except for Antarctica.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;10;20;06  | We need to work on that one. Still. But in in every location, people have been able to figure that side of it out. So they have some skin in the game, but it's affordable. And then the Win-Win side of it is because there's this fund that pays for the tuition at the university, you know, benefits university. Then the students, they get 100% of the education without leaving their home, whereas the traditional model that of of well, you can have training facilities on location which are fantastic.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;11;00;04  | But we've also seen students from different places around the world leaving their contexts to come to the U.S. or go to Europe to study. Once they're finished, they may or may not ever leave. And it's not just internationally. We have the same thing within the United States. People come from the Northeast, they come from Canada, they come from Northwest to the Bible Belt to the United States.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;11;22;17  | They finish their degrees and they don't return to where they came from. They get jobs in Arkansas or Tennessee or Texas. And so in a situation where the last thing we want to do is recruit these very capable and intelligent and bright minded leaders in from churches around the world, the last thing we want to do is uproot them and take them out of that context.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;11;49;14  | Rather, what we're trying to do is just send that information, send those learning experiences to them so they can stay in place and use them for their own works, good works. And in that way, we feel like we're participating alongside of them in their ministries.
Laurie  | 00;12;02;28  | Yes, I love that. And like you said, they're learning in context. Even as they're doing their coursework and learning, they are in their culture, their ministry context. And so. Oh, how does this apply to this unique thing where I live that's very relevant in real time to them, I'm sure.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;12;21;22  | Absolutely.
Laurie  | 00;12;22;23  | Would you say are there any kinds of people or types of training for which online learning would not be especially preferable?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;12;33;03  | Yeah, I love that question. You know, it's interesting because I would I would definitely say yes. And probably the the quick answer would be online education does require a sense of independent learning and self-directed learning. And so even though we have dynamic courses that we build, it's up to the student to have the mode of self-motivation to do the work and get it done.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;13;02;20  | That's probably the biggest requirement. Now, having said that, online education has tremendous ability to create barriers for student learning, but it also has tremendous opportunities to take down barriers. So when we think about it, say, for example, someone who has visual impairment and that's a hot topic for those of us in the in the field, if you have a written based course, can somebody who can't see the documents benefit from that course?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;13;35;14  | And so when we design courses, we've got to think about screen readers and using the types of files that screen readers can read for the students. If you have images on the screen, we want to make sure that there's an alt text in there so that a screen reader can tell the person who's in the course what that image is is trying to depict or show and so on the one hand, I can think of all sorts of ways.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;14;00;25  | A poorly designed course would create barriers for people with different experiences of reality. You know, and, and yet at the same time, we, we can design courses in such a way where we take down those barriers. But I will say this, that the problems that we that we have with the social problems that we have with humanity in the non-digital world, by extension find their ways into the digital world.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;14;27;23  | So as we think about online education, we've got to think about accessibility, we've got to think about culture, we've got to think about what race, how that's factored into online experiences as well. So to answer your question, I would say there there's online if done well, online education is probably more accessible than any other version of of education because it can be transmitted worldwide.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;15;00;22  | But if it's not done well and then those same barriers that we face in other areas of education will creep into the online education, too. But at the very, very basic quick answer, I'd go back to what I said at the beginning, that that if a person is not able to take on that challenge of being a self-directed learner in the online, then it's really hard to motivate somebody to turn on their computer and and do the assignments.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;15;31;16  | And I think that's part of the pushback we see with the COVID era, with K through 12 is parents are worn out. They don't know how to get their students motivated to do the work. People are tired of looking at their screens. Well, that's probably not the best use of online education, but in the right context, with the right preparation and training, even K through 12 can be a successful learning experience.
Laurie  | 00;15;57;01  | You said something that sparked a thought for me. You did say issues about race which are world wide, can hinder or impact online learning. Could you talk a little more about that? How does that happen or how do we overcome that?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;16;14;00  | Oh yeah. That is a topic that's that's really close to my heart. I've I've written about it elsewhere and spent quite a bit of time in the last ten years or so being involved in the conversation and say, for example, a cohort model for an adult learning program, if a school is predominantly white and they insist on a cohort model, they might have, you know, out of 20 people in a cohort is 20% are people of color.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;16;45;13  | Then you have just a handful of people who are who are not white in the class, in the cohort. And so if you insist on the cohort model, then that's that the people who are who are in a racial minority, you know, underrepresented population will continue to be underrepresented the entire experience in that school. And so while on the one hand it sounds like a great idea to have a cohort where people get to know each other really well and we're colorblind, we don't see any of these things.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;17;19;24  | You're you're also locking people into a certain kind of experience, you know? So you've got to think about that sort of thing in a way where the the options there are people who who when they come to an online experience, are already experiencing stereotype in their own context. Or they might have experienced and I'm thinking just, you know, U.S. based right now, they might have experienced different forms of prejudice and racism in another place, another school or at their current location.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;17;52;07  | And so all of that comes to that online experience. Like those past experiences come to the online experience and the expectation of what people have. And if a predominately white school that's designing a program doesn't recognize that doesn't account for those experiences, doesn't make sure that that experiences of racialization don't continue or creep into the courses themselves, then it's just going to repeat the same kind of thing.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;18;23;11  | There are cases where somebody might not show their face, choose not to show their face on a class in a classroom because they're not sure if it's a safe environment, for example, you know, or there's instances where somebody prefers to prefers to write their answers rather than record them because and this is a quote, because you can't hear your they can't hear my accent in the in the paragraph that I write.
Laurie  | 00;18;55;05  | Well.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;18;55;27  | You know, so the point is, is that people who are experiencing racialization don't stop experiencing it just because they're online. And so people who create these courses and manage these courses need to be aware of that and think about ways to just level the playing field. Don't don't whitewash everything, don't colorblind everything, but think but try to celebrate that diversity.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;19;21;15  | Make sure that the learning experience is a safe experience for everybody.
Laurie  | 00;19;24;17  | Well, that's a very interesting, very good consideration. That can see how hard that would be in lots of different ways for sure. You know, a lot of us have experienced Zoom. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone, even in Antarctica, perhaps, who doesn't know all about Zoom at this point, are there other online learning platforms that you're aware of or that you've used that you think are useful?
Laurie  | 00;19;49;18  | Or and which platforms do you personally think are the best for online education?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;19;55;25  | Well, so depending on how you how you do teach your classes, if it's live, then you need something like Zoom. Google Meet is another one that's pretty, pretty good. The one thing that's missing from most of them except for Google Meet is is a live or a AI artificial intelligence closed captioning. I know that some people are buying into packages and they're integrating that into zoom.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;20;25;05  | But but this is also in accessibility kind of concern somebody from the ADA needs it needs to have a hard conversation with these private companies that are creating these platforms to remind them, hey, we want everybody to be able to see what's going on here. And so whether it's it's a hearing impairment or English as a second language, we need to be able to have that teletext running across the screen, you know, all of these platforms.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;20;50;11  | But Google me, it's a good one. Zoom's a good one. Even something like Facebook Messenger, you can use video conferencing. Any Skype is still out there. All of them function about the same way. And in my opinion, it's just whatever, whatever you have a license for to use. What I like about Zoom is that if I have a license, most people can use it for free.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;21;14;21  | But I have a license for, you know, unlimited usage. And nobody that I send a link to has to have that. They can just link into the Zoom link and and we're we're on line WhatsApp for the international world. Everybody outside the United States is using WhatsApp for some reason we don't hear but that's another really good tool to use as well.
Laurie  | 00;21;37;10  | I do think Zoom has the closed captioning option too because we've used.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;21;42;25  | Maybe I need to update mine.
Laurie  | 00;21;44;16  | Here and we used it. We do a lot of our meetings with interest, even our internal staff meetings and they do turn on closed captioning and so we do see the, the words running by on the bottom of the screen there. So if we're let's just say that we're talking to a person who is going to begin to teach a course online in some way, even through their local church or seminary or any thing.
Laurie  | 00;22;10;12  | What would be some of the most important things they should keep in mind in order to really maximize that learning experience for their group?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;22;20;09  | Teacher engagement like teacher student engagement is is probably the most critical part to it all. Now, if your your design is is lived in this, the teachers are going to be present. But if it's asynchronous, the plug and play kind, you know, way of thinking about online education is one way of having a very bad experience. If you're not present with your students, if you're not responding to their discussion post, if you let more than a day go by before you respond to an email or to a message through your elements or your learning management system, then your students will automatically go into this panic mode.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;23;03;05  | And if they if they have a panic experience, they're not going to enjoy what they're what they're experiencing. And so and from just an educational theory perspective, people learn best when they're when they're happy, you know, when they're upset or nervous or stressed out. The our ability to think, our cognitive functions focus on something else. And so that that engagement factor is probably the most important part of it all.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;23;38;04  | If you're if you're doing a live zoom, zoom meeting or something like that, then I think you're going to have good engagement anyway. Then I would say try to cut out some of the the mystery involved. I think we've all been part of Zoom meetings before. We're we had a set time and let's say it's 9:00, 9:00 rolls around and we still don't have a link.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;24;06;01  | You know, and we're waiting for that, that host to send the link for the meeting to start the little things like that just create anxiety. And when you create anxiety, it creates frustration. It leads to frustration with the course. And and if you can reduce that through clear communication being present in the courses and maybe even going overboard on making sure that everybody has what they need, then that's that's going to that's going to lead to a good learning environment.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;24;38;16  | Some people probably would focus on like background and microphones and lighting and all that sort of thing. That's not my area of expertize and I don't tend to worry about that as much. But but being that person who's present and attentive and reassures the participants that it's going to be fine, whatever happens is going to be fine. It leads to successful learning experiences.
Laurie  | 00;25;03;01  | That's that's really good. And then on the other side, what about the person who's maybe about to embark on their first online learning experience on the recipient side of the learner? What might be a couple of things for them to keep in mind to make sure they maximize on that that learning opportunity?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;25;21;01  | Oh, yeah, I love that. Well, definitely. So the flip side of that, don't don't assume too much don't disappear. But chase after the information. So if something's not working, if you don't have if you don't have a link, you can't see your course in your illness. Then reach out to the whoever is your contact person, reach out to them and ask, don't worry about annoying people.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;25;52;02  | It's their job to, you know, they're getting paid for you to annoy them. So don't worry about that. If anything annoys, you know, whoever is in charge, then maybe, maybe it's not a good fit for them. Yeah. So don't worry about it. Pursue it, pursue the information. If you don't assume that, if you can't see it, that everything's going to be okay.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;26;15;24  | Because it could be that you're not enrolled in the class like you should be, and that's why your course isn't popping up. It could be that you can't see the course because it hasn't started yet, but it's good to know that information. So for somebody who's new, I would say don't panic, but if you have questions, don't be afraid to ask.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;26;33;26  | And until everybody is on the same page.
Laurie  | 00;26;37;26  | Which is almost the same to in-person training too, we've always heard. No, the only bad question is the unanswered question. Right? If you don't understand something, ask. And even so, in online learning, the asking may be related to the process as well as to the content. At some points. What are some of the greatest dangers or pitfalls that we should watch out for when we're developing online learning experiences, especially for people in ministry like leadership training, Bible training?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;27;12;22  | You know, one of the pitfalls I think, would be to have this bias against the technology in such a way that we don't use it for its benefits. On the flip side of that, another pitfall is to be so enamored by the bells and whistles that we get excited about new tools and we roll things out and we let the technology we we get we let the new fancy technology get us too far ahead of where our students are.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;27;45;29  | People are. And and then it just becomes a frustration of having to learn something new all the time. So I would, you know, as far as the technology goes, I would want I would say both of those sides stay stay current, don't get too far ahead. Find out where your people are. And that's that's the best tool for you to use if you know and I think about this intercultural, for example, I don't know if you're familiar with the Hofstetter model of of cultural dimensions, but one of the the the different cultural indexes, one of the things that I think about a lot is are the people that that I'm working with overseas.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;28;29;20  | Are they from a more individualistic society or collectivist are they do they have a high power distance expectation in their culture? How are they about uncertainty? Do they have high levels of uncertainty, avoidance in their culture? And when I look at hostage categories for Central Europe, for example, as I mentioned before, we were missionaries in Hungary. Hungary, compared to the United States, is much higher on the uncertainty avoidance scale.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;29;00;13  | What that means is, is that if something is unknown or uncomfortable, then culturally speaking, in the Hungarian national culture, people would tend to dismiss themselves from that uncomfortable situation. Rather than engage it or try to work things out, they would just kind of just disappear. So I started thinking about how does that manifest itself on social media? Because the Hungarian friends I know, especially the younger ones, they're posting pictures of themselves all the time.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;29;34;12  | And. And what are those? What are they wanting to post? What are they wanting to share it? What are they not wanting to share? Knowing these cultural these cultural impulses in the country? And and so the interesting thing is, is that as we if I were to develop, of course, specifically for a culture that has high uncertainty avoidance, then one of the things I might be mindful of is that people in that within that sphere may not share as much about their personal lives as people who have a lower uncertainty avoidance.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;30;14;15  | So I guess my point is, is that you can't have a one size fits all mentality to your your courses. You got to think about where your people are coming from, what are their cultural expectations. We can incorporate people into our our new space together. This is a new culture in the online. But if we expect everybody to be just like me or just like you, or to deal with it and live with it without any type of extra conversation about how we want the culture of this school in this course to be like, then that is a pitfall because we'll start to lose people.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;30;54;13  | People will start to check out, they won't complete courses, they get frustrated. And so that's when I talk about culture and how it plays into online the online world. That's an example of the kinds of things I'm thinking about.
Laurie  | 00;31;09;07  | That brings in that concept of contextualization. Maybe someone to knowing your listening, your audience is context, knowing how to work in a way that works in their context and not expect them to jump over to yours necessarily. And you did make a good point to the online. Online is maybe developing a new culture distinct from Hungarian or American or Canadian.
Laurie  | 00;31;35;19  | Do you think there's something about that? There's a new culture coming out here.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;31;40;08  | There's something you know. And I don't know if it's a new culture or a blend of cultures in a new way. But but there's definitely a way that culture influences how people come to the Internet, and the Internet influences what people take back to their cultures. And so there is this very interesting marketplace right now that's online.
Laurie  | 00;32;00;23  | You mentioned something about you're a big fan of Parker Palmer, and I'm not familiar with who those people are or what that theory is. Can you explain that a little bit more?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;32;12;02  | Yeah. So maybe I'll start with just kind of a story when people talk about when they talk about what they teach, you might go around the room to a bunch of faculty and they might say, Well, I teach Old Testament or I teach Hebrew or I teach family ministries. But, but really at the heart of of where Parker Palmer is coming from, we teach students, right?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;32;41;06  | We're not the subject matter is what we're the information we're passing along. But our our our main focus is to transform the hearts and lives of our students. And so the the the subject based theory or or concept basically says that we're not we're not teaching for the sake of the teacher because she or he enjoys hearing themselves talk.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;33;11;01  | You know, we're not or they have a job to do is we're not teaching just for the sake of student satisfaction, you know, or grades or whatever or we're doing is we're we actually have something important to look at, something important to investigate. We have information out there that needs to be explored. So we put that subject in the middle.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;33;32;23  | And then as as people who are further down the road than are our students, we we come to the conversation and we invite our students to come to that same conversation. And we analyze that, that subject matter together. So that's where the whole subject based terminology comes from or subject focused terminology. It's it's also, I would say, dips into the idea of constructivism where knowledge is is socially constructed.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;34;04;24  | It's not 100% going that direction, but it kind of dips the toes into it a little bit because it's this it it's a it's a it's an attitude that says, I'm not going to tell you what you need to know, but I'm going to show you what there is to know. And we're going to try to figure out what we need to know together.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;34;29;27  | And I think that's a beautiful way to look at education in general. But in an online context, if you think about every online course is basically a flipped classroom where you give the students information, you connect the student, you have information in the course, you connect students with information outside the course. And then you say You have all this stuff that you can look at.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;34;53;18  | Now let's talk about it. What are you what are you learning? How can I learn from you? How can you learn from each other? And then let me say a few things about this, too, that I think is important that might help you.
Laurie  | 00;35;06;03  | I like what you quoted, you said it's a hackneyed old rhyme, but I had not heard it before that the teacher is the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;35;17;00  | Yes. Yes, that's right. Well, I hear it way too often. It was it was funny. The first time I heard it. About 15 years later ....
Laurie  | 00;35;25;26  | ... You can be done with that one! Now, is there anything else that I haven't asked you that you wish I would ask you or you'd like to mention, especially about the topic of online in equipping for Christian leaders?
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;35;39;13  | My background for the last 15 years has been higher education and a lot of the ways that answers your questions are looking at higher education. But I would say, even though professionally, that's where I am in, you know, deep in the inner chambers of my heart, I'm I'm still I'm still a missionary. And so even the way I approach higher education is still from this missionary mindset.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;36;14;01  | And I think there's so much potential us to be thinking about how to how to provide an infrastructure of training and encouragement, support throughout the throughout the Kingdom of God. And there's so many opportunities now, and God's not going to like the Holy Spirit doesn't need to wait for us to do anything because God, God is powerful enough to overcome our weaknesses.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;36;40;05  | But but he has provided so much, so many tools right now that we can use for evangelism, for church planting, for supporting ministers and pastors worldwide, that that we've got to be thinking about how to use those tools for the glory of God. If we're not doing that, then we're really missing out on an opportunity. Like I said, God's God's God's will will be done.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;37;10;06  | But it's such a blessing for us and we can plug into that will and partner with him alongside on the journey.
Laurie  | 00;37;18;27  | I think those are the main things I was going to ask you. I will encourage our listeners to go and look at the article Dr. Westbrook wrote about online learning and how it's used in equipping leaders. You made a lot of good practical suggestions there that are really helpful too, and thank you for your time in just sharing your heart and your expertize with us today.
Dr. Westbrook  | 00;37;42;11  | My pleasure. Thank you.
Todd (intro/outro)  | 00;37;44;10  | Maybe today's episode has inspired you to look into taking a class online. We've got links to Harding University and their distance learning program in our show notes, along with links to our own Entrust online learning opportunities. Next time our guest will be Entrust’s very own ministry trainers describing how God has let us at entrust to make good use of online learning.
Todd (intro/outro)  | 00;38;11;29  | And then in late January, we were excited to tell you that our special guest will be Anne Graham Lotz. She  had a robust conversation with Laurie Lind about prayer. You'll be challenged and motivated as you listen to their dialogue. That episode goes live January 20th. Mark your calendar.