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Seminary agreement evident in fall classes and meetings

October 6, 2011 No Comment

CLTS professor Dr. John Stephenson teaching seminary students in St. Catharines and Edmonton.

The results of signing a Memorandum of Understanding between Lutheran Church–Canada’s Board of Directors and two seminaries in June are now evident to students, faculty, and staff in St. Catharines and Edmonton.

This fall students at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS) in St. Catharines, Ontario share four classes online with fellow students at Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS) in Edmonton. “In the past two years we had already begun sharing teaching through Internet video conferencing, with a history class and two Old Testament classes serving as trial runs,” reports CLTS Acting-president Rev. Dr. Thomas Winger. “This year this has been stepped up to four shared classes, two taught in each direction.” He said that staff at both seminaries had worked to “iron out most of the technical wrinkles so that the students get a clear and reliable communications link with their distant professor and classmates.”

Dr. Manfred Zeuch, president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton is teaching one of the online classes with 14 students, 12 in the two seminary classrooms, and two online. “The interaction with the online students is as lively as with the students sitting in your own classroom,” says the president. Although the distance education classrooms suffer the inevitable technical glitches, and neither seminary has professional IT staff, there are competent self-taught technicians on site, a staff member in Edmonton and a student at CLTS. President Zeuch believes “the classes have been running smoothly.”

For faculty, the MOU has revived an exchange program that will see two professors teach a short session at each other’s institution in May 2012. “These joint ventures have not only enabled the seminary faculties and students to draw closer together, but they have allowed them to reduce their dependence on guest instructors,” said Dr. Winger.

This summer faculty members from both seminaries held a joint meeting to train in online instruction. Another online joint faculty meeting is scheduled for October. The fall meeting will begin work on harmonizing the curriculum. The first steps are already in place according to Dr. Zeuch. “CLTS adopted the CLS sequencing of Old Testament courses since our OT professor, Rev. Jonathan Kraemer, has been delivering a significant number of classes to St. Catharines.” The church history courses are next on the agenda so that eventually the whole curriculum will be revised and converge. “It is going rather quickly,” the president noted.

The seminaries will also begin alignment of their calendars for such things as when semesters begin and end, along with scheduling short-term sessions and reading week.