Onwards and Upwards: Scottish Baptist College Online and On-Campus
By Graham Meiklejohn, Lecturer in Theology and Communications Coordinator, Scottish Baptist College
Over the past 2 years the Scottish Baptist College has been on a journey of discernment considering how we fulfil our mission to provide theological education and ministry training across Scotland. Throughout 2019, we took small steps to exploring some options. We developed the Northern Hub which helped to connect with those who wanted to train for ministry but were located at distance from our Paisley campus. We also held our first ever online class – this prototype class took place primarily over Zoom (before it became the norm!) which allowed us to experiment with teaching in real-time, where we could maintain learning in community with interactions between students and lecturers, but not bound to any one physical location.
Fast forward to March 2020 and the circumstances of Covid-19 saw all of our classes move to this online but interactive format. We added access to the Digital Theological Library (DTL), allowing our students access to over 600,000 theological resources from wherever they were based.
Over a year later, we’ve continued to adapt to this mode of delivery and in doing so we’ve found ways to regularly gather for prayers and social times. It has also meant we’ve been able to welcome new students who previously found the College inaccessible. We’ve had students from Orkney and other locations all around mainland Scotland. We’ve also had a modular student join us from South Africa and when we started the SBLC as online evening short courses one of our participants joined from North America. We’ve used the opportunity of this season to continue to serve churches across Scotland and beyond!
That’s the story so far…but it doesn’t end there.
At the beginning of June 2021, the College was formally granted validation to deliver all our courses and modules online. This means that our awarding University (UWS) were satisfied the College would continue to provide a quality education online, as well as on-campus, and had the academic resources to do so. This is an excellent recognition of the development work carried out over the past two years.
For us, online doesn’t mean learning in isolation or having any less interaction. We think that learning should include plenty of opportunities to interact in a community of learning and in your own context – these are our theological convictions and educational commitments. This means that our version of online learning is gathering in an online space, talking together in real-time, and interacting with staff and other students alike. It’s the same kind of learning experience we have on-campus, except we’re doing it online. It means week-by-week you’ll get to know other students and the lecturers through learning together. We hope this will be a rich and stimulating learning environment for all involved.
What does this look like? We’ll be teaching on-campus in the mornings and then mirroring the classes online the same evening. Pragmatically, it means you can study on-campus or online full-time or part-time (or for a single module). If full-time, our on-campus classes will require you to be in Paisley on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings; and if online, our classes will require availability on those evenings (if part-time, one or two mornings / evenings will be required). You might be interested in one or all of our modules on Christian Worship (Tue); Creative Mission in a Changing Culture (Wed); Encountering the Old Testament (Thu); and alongside these, our module on School Chaplaincy on a Tuesday evening. We’re excited for this development – we think this is the most integrated, hybrid model of theological study in Scotland offering on-campus and online study at two different times and for full-time or part-time study. We hope that you’ll consider studying with us or sharing the news with those who want to delve deeper into their faith by studying theology.
For more information or to explore study options, please email firstname.lastname@example.org