Dordt College News

Online M.A. gives flexibility for teacher-students

June 24, 2014

Dr. Tim Van Soelen describes Dordt’s masters of education program as philosophical but pragmatic. The move almost three years ago to an online program has not changed that, he says. But it has changed other things. The program is now reaching a broader group of students and, this year, conferred 22 master of education degrees, up from six last year. The number of students in the program is now 113, compared to 40 four years ago. The online program also added a school leadership track, making it more atractive to teachers interested in school administration.

In the past, Dordt’s program attracted primarily very young teachers and teachers whose family responsibilities were less intensive, people who had the flexibility to be on campus for one to three weeks each summer. The online version offered today makes the program more manageable for many teachers with young families and limited resources.

Van Soelen is thrilled with the results of the move to online studies.

“We attract high quality students,” he says. And the work these students are doing also benefits the schools in which they are teaching. For example, those enrolled in the school leadership emphasis complete a 400-hour internship in a local school where they undertake projects such as revising the teacher evaluation program, implementing new classroom collaboration strategies, or developing new playground plans.

Van Soelen believes that a big asset of Dordt’s online program is its flexibility. It can serve students from around the world, and it draws on the expertise of professionals from around the world.

“Busy educators may not be able to commit a week to come to campus to teach a class, but they’re willing to join an online webinar and give 30-60 minutes to a class,” he says. The online delivery system draws on the insights of such people as the national teacher of the year, superintendents from a variety of places, and recognized leaders in the field of education.

“Our instructors are proven Christian teachers and leaders who demonstrate what we hope our candidates become. They embody our intentional emphasis on balancing theory and practice, filtered through a God-centered understanding of the purpose of education for the kingdom,” says Van Soelen.  

Graduates of Dordt’s master’s program have a deep philosophical understanding of what it means to teach and lead Christianly, Van Soelen believes. They’ll finish with improved teaching skills, and they’ll continue to develop as Christian teachers and leaders.

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