International (MNN) – Through partnerships with local churches, the Program for Theological Education by Extension (PTEE) believes they can obtain the future renewal of their accreditation for their affordable, accessible online programs serving believers across the Arab world.
Preparing for the Future
Rick Weymouth, who serves as PTEE’s director of e-learning, explains that while PTEE recently received accreditation renewal for their regular face-to-face programs, they’re already preparing for the future of PTEE’s online education.
“We’re accredited by the Asia Theological Association. We’re also accredited by the Middle East and North African Association for Theological Education. One of the things the accrediting agencies are saying to us is that you have to continue to offer online education in a holistic fashion,” he says.
“Holistic means that we are not just training the students in terms of growing their knowledge and understanding of the Bible, critical thinking skills and intellectual formation, but we’re also involved in spiritual formation, character formation, practical ministry formation, and ministry skill formation.”
While the online curriculum certainly covers these topics, PTEE recognizes the key role of mentorships and relationships in the development of their students. Weymouth says this is where local church partnerships come in.
“In order to gain accreditation for our online programs in the future, we will have to engage in an intentional partnership with the churches of each of our students,” he explains. “Our students will put us in touch with leaders in their church to provide accountability and an assessment of how they’re growing in those spiritual and ministry formation areas, including character formation.”
Mindful of Challenges
While many students will be able to connect with leaders in their churches to fill this key mentorship role, Weymouth knows that some of their students are primary church leaders already. However, he believes that even in these instances, PTEE can find a solution.
“In those cases, [when the student is already a leader] we try to identify a peer leader, from a neighboring group, if possible,” he says.
Weymouth is mindful of these challenges and others as PTEE moves its printed courses into online, multimedia courses and develops even more course options online.
“God willing we will have up to 50 courses at the bachelor level that will be available online in the future. We’re about half way through our development process. We field test them when they’re ready,” he explains.
“We’re learning as we grow. We’re trying to ensure that we think of the challenges that our students are going to face, whether they’re from a Christian background or a majority people background.”
You Can Help
As PTEE prepares for the future and tackles challenges, Weymouth explains how believers around the world can support them.
“We need prayer as we deal with these challenges, providing the technical and practical solutions, we need prayer for our development team,” he says.
“We have a team of three or four people in Jordan working on developing the courses now. They need our prayers for creativity, for inspiration, and for wisdom as they make some curricular decisions and try to ensure that the courses they are preparing are going to meet the holistic learning needs of our students and engage them fully.”
Another way you can support PTEE is by donating here to support both the ongoing development of new online classes and help offset the costs of current courses for PTEE students.
“We’ll start small, and then we’ll grow, and God willing we’ll grow big over time.”