Bright Future for UTS-Online
- by Cabot W. Peterson (UTS‘92)
As the first semester (8 weeks) of the newly implemented online courses at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) reaches its end, the continuation and expansion of UTS-Online future looks truly bright. With only a few short months to plan and put the courses into place, over 40 students from Albania, Austria, Kosovo, Canada, and the United States signed up for one or both of the courses. Dr. Tyler Hendricks taught Unification Apologetics in Practical Contexts and Dr. Andrew Wilson taught Divine Principle in Depth.
Despite the relatively short lead-in time before the launch, UTS-Online has successfully reached around the globe, offering opportunities to students that would normally have little, if any, chance of being able to take courses here in the United States. Another advantage is that online delivery offers students the flexibility to “tune in” to a lecture at their own convenience; not having to be in a particular classroom at an appointed hour. Studying on their own, in their leisure time, in a place of their choosing - be it 3:00 pm in the afternoon or 3:00 am in the morning - also offers options unavailable in classroom settings, for the professors as well as the students.
Even for those who have a solid grounding in Divine Principle (DP) and Unification practice, such as Generation Peace Academy (GPA) Director, Roland Platt, the experience has far exceeded expectations.
“This course has been so inspiring, said Roland, “some lectures were literally ‘mind-blowing.’ I’m thinking especially of [Dr. Wilson’s] explanation of Moses’ course as the foundation for True Father’s (Rev. Moon) course. I’ve never heard anyone explain this chapter with so much meaning and heart.
“Dr. Wilson is also a treasure trove of knowledge, whether it be the Bible, ancient Jewish history, or world religions, and this adds a lot of background insight into his lectures… and I’m looking forward to seeing what other online courses will be offered.”
This course has been so inspiring. Some lectures were literally ‘mind-blowing'. Dr. Wilson is also a treasure trove of knowledge, whether it be the Bible, ancient Jewish history, or world religions, and this adds a lot of background insight into his lectures… and I’m looking forward to seeing what other online courses will be offered." Roland Platt, UTS-Online Student
Tasnah Moyer, who grew up with a good basic knowledge and understanding of DP, also felt the lectures had a deep impact in her life, and that was unexpected.
“Growing up, my interaction with DP rarely went in depth past chapters 1 or 2,” said Tasnah, “and, if so, it was often a challenge to connect to history’s relevance. But this course has made me realize how much I still have to learn, and want to learn. It has left me feeling more clear and empowered about my faith and with a clearer understanding of the time we live in.
“I’m excited to enroll in further study as I think it’s crucial to cultivate the tools and confidence to articulate these powerful values and manifest them in my life and the world around me.”
“For me,” said Lubin Argjir of Albania, “it is my first time to attend an online course and the experience is no different in quality compared to a university classroom; it’s even much better, especially the flexibility it offers. It would be a great pleasure for me to attend the other two courses in the spring. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In a similar fashion, the sentiments of Savjola Konja, an Albanian living in Pristina, Kosovo, were equal parts thankfulness - for her professors - and the Online program
“In the beginning the CANVAS program seemed difficult, but it wasn’t,” she said. “I could learn how to use it and tried to give my best with the tasks. The professors were very good, sincere in their teaching and encouraging in their comments. I also liked very much the fact that they were like spiritual guides for me to go deeper in my soul with insights.”
"...this course has made me realize how much I still have to learn, and want to learn. It has left me feeling more clear and empowered about my faith and with a clearer understanding of the time we live in. I’m excited to enroll in further study as I think it’s crucial to cultivate the tools and confidence to articulate these powerful values and manifest them in my life and the world around me"Tasnah Moyer, UTS-Online Student
While many students expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to study, the quality of the professors, and the content of their courses, it would be hard for any of them to match the joy Dr. Wilson expressed during a recent interview.
“Teaching this online course is great fun,” effused Dr. Wilson. “I like it better than teaching in the classroom because the feedback I get from my students is much more instantaneous. If I’m teaching in a classroom I only get feedback if I give a quiz or if they write a paper, but with distance learning each student has to write a reflection instantly after they finish watching a lecture. That immediate feedback is good for me and good for the student as well.”
He’s equally as excited about CANVAS, the state-of-the-art Learning Management System (LMS) that UTS selected in June to implement its distance learning program, the same program used by the University of Bridgeport.
“This program is really smooth,” said Wilson. “It has a lot of really good features; it makes it easy for me to communicate with students and for them to communicate with me. If someone’s having a problem I’m usually on it within 24 hours or less, because I’m always looking to see what’s the latest with my students.”
Dr. Hendricks echoed his colleague’s sentiments, and how the students have benefited from the learning program’s design and implementation.
“The CANVAS program allows the students to have discussions that explore the sensitive subject matter in a very positive and encouraging way,” he said. “The discussions have allowed professor and student to gain perspective on important demographics of the Family Federation movement, including core members, members’ relatives, inactive members, second generation, Sanctuary Church followers, guests with diverse religious backgrounds, Christian clergy, and one professor of religion who studies our movement.”
Drs. Tyler Hendricks and Andrew Wilson will once again be teaching in the Spring semester, two new online courses each eight-weeks long which will begin March 12, 2018. The application deadline is Friday, March 2nd, and the $1,000 per course scholarship to inaugurate UTS-Online will still be offered. Dr. Hendricks will teach a course entitled: The Life and Course of Sun Myung and Hak Ja Han Moon, while Dr. Wilson’s course is entitled: World Scriptures and World Peace.