Harnessing Today’s Movement for Tomorrow’s Missionaries?
Access driven higher education: Implications for mission training
My father, with his GI Bill in hand, uprooted my mother and two small children to attend school, live in a cramped city apartment, and work three jobs simultaneously.
By his sheer determination he overcame the barriers. It's the way many adults have completed school. And it's the reason many more never did.
However, the GI Bill launched millions of additional students, mostly adults, into higher education and ignited a building frenzy. These students, like my father, moved to campus locations and centered their lives around the schools' schedules.
Today, we're on the verge of launching millions more, again mostly adults, into higher education, but this time it's igniting a different kind of frenzy. Institutions, old and new, are extending themselves--literally and virtually--to where the students live and around their schedules.
Like the car advertisement, but with a different twist, "this isn't my father's university."
The emerging university is different than in my father's day as millions of "hidden" students are about to be discovered. Examples follow:
University of Phoenix, with 55,000 students in 98 locations across 31 states, is now the largest private regionally accredited school in the country.
Phoenix caters and markets to adult learner needs and the companies for which they work.
Western Governors University, created by 17 states' CEOs, literally goes "on-line" this fall. Too little money to build new campuses and exploding populations spurred these political titans to act. WGU won't offer degrees but will broker courses provided by others. Students will also get credit for what they know rather than just the courses they complete.
The Governor's leadership legitimizes the "virtual" university.
Christian University GlobalNet, the about-to-be-born offspring of the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, will help coordinate the distance learning efforts of CCCU's 120 campuses in 11 countries.
Its goal is nothing short of becoming "the major source in the world for Christian distance learning at the higher education level."
While the GI Bill made higher education more attainable, these new universities represent a movement to make higher education more accessible.
It's access-driven by the learners who are are geographically isolated, time starved, and/or have specific training needs.
As access increases, so does enrollment, revenue and learning.
Enrollment: Enrollment in distance learning courses jumped from 750,000 in 1995 to 1 million in 1996. One expert has predicted the number will soar to several million by 2000.
Revenue: Adult and continuing education is now a $100 billion annual market. Distance learning multiplies rather than redistributes tuition revenue.
Learning: Research continues to show that there is "no significant difference" in learning between traditional classroom courses and distance learning courses. This reaffirms that learning hinges on interaction, not location.
Three questions to help us harness this movement in higher education for preparing tomorrow's missionaries.
- How can we increase access to mission training opportunities for prospective missionaries and mission-alert lay people?
- How would our mission training efforts be different if we were driven by the needs of the learner rather than the needs of the training institution?
- How many people are being "overlooked" for Kingdom service by our failing to further extend access to adults?
Those of us in mission training have given substantial efforts to providing the "right" kind of learning. Perhaps wrestling with these questions will help us find many of the "right" kind of people.
World Christian Foundations
The World Christian Foundations study program provides the essentials of seminary with a globalized perspective that is accessible wherever one lives.
Contact these two schools who have adopted WCF: B.A Level: Betty Piper Center for Distance Education Northwestern College 3003 Snelling Avenue North St. Paul, MN 55113 USA Phone: 612-631-5494 or 1-800-308-5495; Fax: 612-631-5133 E-mail: [email protected]
M.A. Level: Steve Burris School of Graduate Studies Hope International University 2500 E. Nutwood Avenue Fullerton, CA 92831 Phone: 714-879-3903, ext. 604 Email: [email protected]