Exploring the Alignment of Distance Education with Christian Higher Education
The objective of this study was to determine if the mission of Christian higher education can be met in the context of distance learning and, if so, what program components have been implemented to comply with the mission. This qualitative case study included three Christian institutions: Palm Beach Atlantic University, Abilene Christian University, and Anderson University. These institutions are members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) within the United States and are involved in offering distance learning programs. An in-depth examination of these programs through interviews with the Directors of the distance learning programs provided an understanding of how distance education has been designed and implemented to align with the missions of Christian higher education institutions. The study identified and described the specific components of the distance learning programs that addressed the missions of Christian higher education institutions. The information and insight gained from the case study will assist the leadership of Christian colleges and universities in the decision-making process of whether or not to pursue distance education programs and serve as a guide for implementing programs that will accomplish their missions. The overall purpose of this research was to provide Christian higher education institutions with information about how to develop distance learning programs in this unique environment by which they may broaden the number of students they can reach and serve. Research indicated that it is possible, with the right components, for Christian higher education institutions to offer distance learning programs that comply with their missions. The study further indicated that distance learning may not be able to replicate the residential student's experiences, but several components can be designed into the courses to make the distance learning experience more like the residential experience. Further study is recommended on the satisfaction of students in Christian higher education with distance learning, the acceptance of distance learning by faculty in Christian higher education, and a possible longitudinal study on how to measure or ensure quality over time.
0527: Religious education
0710: Educational technology