Story Magazine

Second Quarter, 2007

Lay School of Theology Offers Online Classes

by Shelley Cunningham, '98

Luther Seminary has terrific faculty and a long history of stimulating classes for laity. But what if you live in Texas?

Until recently, traveling to St. Paul, Minn., was the only way to take advantage of the popular Lay School of Theology courses. But starting this fall, one lay school class per session will be available in a distributed learning format--broadcast via the Internet. That means individuals or congregational groups can grow deeper in faith without having to leave their neighborhoods.

"We've always had people asking,'Do you have anything online?'" said Barb Gaiser, Director of Continuing Education. "There is a great need for quality adult education classes out there, and the market is huge. We have terrific professors here and a technology team that's excited to make it happen. It's a perfect fit."

An online Kairos class last winter served as a testing ground for the process, with great success, said Gaiser. Presentations were broadcast over the Internet via streaming video, and participants were able to send questions via e-mail as the class was being taught.

For groups, it's recommended that two laptop computers are available: one to facilitate projecting the video presentation, and a second to e-mail questions and comments to the instructor at Luther Seminary. A high-speed Internet connection is necessary to view the streaming video.

Courses are $60 for an individual registration, or $100 for a group, which, Gaiser said, allows for more interaction and conversation. In case the Monday evening time (7-9 p.m. CST) isn't convenient, classes will be archived and available online for one week.

The classes available online this year are:

  • "The Gospel of John," taught by Paul Berge, Professor Emeritus of
    New Testament, Sept. 17-Oct. 15
  • "The Holy Spirit, the Church and the Triune God," taught by Lois Malcolm, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Jan. 28- Feb. 25, 2008
  • "God's Name is Surprise: Stories of Faith in Luke and Acts," taught by James Boyce, Professor of New Testament, March 31-April 28, 2008.

Registration must be completed a week before each class begins to ensure time for a 'test run' of the technology hookups.