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How to Foster Human and Spiritual Formation in Distance Learning

Schools of theology are concerned with the human and spiritual formation of their seminarians as a necessary preparation of clergy who can “assist the laity in naming their experiences of grace” that lead “to being taken up in the Paschal Mystery,” which is “the birthplace, in faith, of all of life’s meaning,” Paule Barbeau and Sebastian Mahfood, collaborators in the Catholic Distance Learning Network, said in an article by the Association of Theological Schools. Evaluating human and spiritual formation can take place subjectively when students are regularly seen by faculty in classrooms and around seminary campuses; it becomes more difficult when distance learning has become the primary means of providing instruction.” 

To make online instruction accomplish core human and spiritual formation, faculty must set the tone and expectations for online participation. “Spiritual formation, just like human formation, has to be targeted intentionally by faculty and seminarians alike. To help measure pedagogical success, seminary leadership need to identify a range of metrics that intimately relate to core teaching and formation goals. For more scholarship on seminary education and preparation, see our article “Best Resources on Theological Education.”

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