LEADERSHIP & “St. Paul’s Guide to Leading Remotely” by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine

St. Paul's Guide to Leading Remotely 2.2

Look at Paul … 

Some degree of social distancing will most likely be part of future leadership practices. This will require church leaders to develop new skills and embrace new leadership methods. But for many church staffs, volunteers and ministers leading remotely may feel awkward and unnatural. However, leading remotely is a skill found in the New Testament and the early Church. St. Paul himself provides a fascinating example about how to lead remotely through the letters he wrote to congregations he guided. Here are 12 principles drawn from his writings.

Paul’s Guide …

Be personable. Paul greeted leaders personally. This created a human connection to Paul’s remote location (and sometimes his imprisonment). Whether at the beginning of his letters (Philippians 1, etc.) or the end (Romans 16:1-16, etc.), Paul recounted his personal connection with his readers. When critique was called for, Paul even prefaced it with personal histories. In Romans 16 he spends several paragraphs thanking God for those who helped him, but then warns about those who divide the flock. In verses 17-18 he instructs, “Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents” (MSG). Paul’s greetings not only provided personal salutations to exemplary followers, but also examples of ones to avoid. 

Reputation is based upon God’s work in a life. Distance, whether physical or created by electronic mediums, can undermine credibility. When necessary, Paul defended his credentials. But he based his credibility upon how God has changed (and is changing) him, stating, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave… I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of my earlier life when I lived in the Jewish way. In those days I went all out in persecuting God’s church. I was systematically destroying it. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him.” (Gal. 1:10-16). Be ready to tactfully (2 Cor. 5:20) but directly (1 Tim. 1:3) point to God’s work in your life if your credibility is questioned.

Accept change, yet acknowledge how God is behind the change. Don’t shy away from accepting change, but also acknowledge how God is changing you. Paul embraced his change, recalling in Gal. 2: 7-10 (MSG), “It was soon evident that God had entrusted me with the same message to the non-Jews as Peter had been preaching to the Jews. Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John—the pillars of the church—shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews. The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.”

Go deep theologically, but give them something to do with it. Don’t be afraid to give those you lead remotely something on which to theologically chew. But also make sure it’s something they can readily apply. Pauline scholar Herman Ridderbos stresses the general character of Paul’s preaching was the kingship of Jesus (1997:48). And, as a result Paul urged his readers to exemplify lifestyles that attested to living in a new realm. And knowing it might be some time before they would hear from him again, Paul literally gave them something to do. He told them to act upon what they heard, saying, “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—‘Jesus is my Master’—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’” (Romans 10:9-10, MSG).

Use stories, to help others endure the unendurable. The early church experienced an increasing loss of civil and human rights because of mounting opposition by the Roman regime. To this predicament Paul encouraged his listeners to embrace perseverance, steadfastness and in the more modern term championed by Angela Duckworth, “grit.” Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us” (Col. 1:10-12, MSG). And in Gal. 6:9, Paul famously intones, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (MSG).

Learning how God works, brings strength to endure the seemingly unendurable.

When you must correct, do so with a parent’s firm but loving touch. Paul sometimes had to pen a painful response to his critics. In 1 Cor. 4:14-16 he admonished, “I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself…” (MSG). As we saw earlier, Paul’s critiques sometimes begin with positive salutations. But here Paul prefaces his critique by reminding his hearers of the nature of their leadership relationship, not as a boss to a hireling but as a father to a child. 

Face-to-face leadership is sometimes still required. Continuing the 1 Cor. 4 passage above Paul warns, “I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life” (1 Cor. 4:18-20, MSG). A key to critiquing remotely is to lay out clearly your intentions if remote leadership is ineffective. Face-to-face leadership may still be necessary and should be understood as an option by all parties. 

Be authentic & humble. Paul regularly acknowledged his status, as one Christ appeared to lately, but genuinely. In I Cor. 15:8-9 he recalled, “…He (Jesus) finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence” (MSG). And in Ephesians 3:7-8, he said, “This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities” (MSG)

Put others first, as exemplified by Christ. Paul knew that each leader who read or heard his letters would need to make a myriad of subsequent decisions. To guide decision-making, Paul emphasized that the arrival of Christ’s kingdom meant putting others before oneself. Paul summed this up in Phil. 2:1-7, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!” (MSG).

Reconciliation and transformation are pivotal in the community of the king. Christ’s death and resurrection signified the arrival of his kingdom. A new community emerged which Paul calls, the saints, the elect, the beloved, the called. Over and over he would remind his readers they must decide if they will take up God’s offer for personal kingdom life, reconciliation and letting the Holy Spirit transform them. And so, Paul’s emphasis upon conversion was not just a theoretical concept, but also a noticeable change in people. Paul famously intoned, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:16-20, MSG).

Be thankful & prayerful for those you are entrusted to lead. Paul believed thankfulness must characterize every step in a Christian’s journey, saying: “And cultivate thankfulness… Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:15-17, MSG). In addition, Paul’s mentees were never far from his prayers. In Phil. 1:3-6 (MSG) he recalls that “Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.”

Regardless of difficulties, pestilence and/or persecution Paul’s leadership is a guide to how to lead God’s people in difficult, even remote, times.

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Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/st-pauls-guide-to-leading-remotely/

ADULT EDUCATION & Between 2010-2017 student enrollment at Univ. Of Phoenix fell by 70%.


“The University of Phoenix is perhaps the most well-known for-profit college in the country … Between 2010 and 2017, student enrollment fell by 70%. The downsizing is likely doing little to boost employee morale. According to data obtained from Glassdoor, only 32% of University of Phoenix employees would recommend working at the school to a friend.“

Read more at … https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/02/01/bad-reputation-americas-top-20-most-hated-companies/1058718001/

STUDENT SUCCESS & Helping Other Students Not Only Aids Them, But Increases Your Score Too

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 4/19/17

Students often ask how to score well in an online discussion posting. And though the parameters for each letter grade are spelled out in great detail in the syllabus (and I’ve posted them again below) students often want examples.

Here are examples: one is a student’s posting about a “worship disaster” followed by two examples of responses. The first is a poor example of a response and the second is a good example.

Situation of Student X:

…My pastor decided to add a service on Wednesdays at 6:30pm.  I would not call it a disaster, but definitely a failure. We had already added a third service on Sunday mornings and we just did not have enough room to accommodate all the worshippers. The solution that leadership tried to implement was to add a Wednesday evening service which would allow for more newcomers. The service was from 7pm to 8:30 pm.

The mistake was adding the Wednesday evening service. The reason it was a failure is because adding the Wednesday service did not do what was it was supposed to do. Most of the people who attended to Wednesday service were people who already normally attended church on Sunday. I believe it is important that we deal with our mistakes as individuals and as the church…

Response of Student 1 (a poor example)

_____StudentName____, that certainly is a difficult situation. I know that Charles Arn has some good insights in his book about how to start a new service. You might want to take a look there and see what which of his ideas might be helpful.

Response of Student 2 (a better example)

_____StudentName____, I am sorry to hear about the failure of this mid-week service. It seems to me, though, by the way you described how normal Sunday service attenders would come on Wednesday nights that maybe there was not a specific group that the church was trying to reach with this service and it was seen by the congregants as an additional time for them, not for non-attenders.

It may have been more effective if the leadership would have placed an emphasis on the service being either for a select generational, or even spiritual group as discussed in Charles Arn’s book How to Start a New Service (1997). By focusing the service on a select group there could have been mitigation and buy-in from the regular attenders that the new service was to reach new people…

Arn, C. (1997). How to start a new service your church can reach new people. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

My (Dr. Whitesel’s) response:

What Student 2 did right:

I agree with Student 2. I think the problem was that a specific outreach group wasn’t identified. And then as Student B simply stated, congregants felt it was just another requirement on their already busy volunteer schedule.

Student 2 helped Student X with the following suggestion, “Seems to me, though, by the way you described how normal Sunday service attenders would come on Wednesday nights that maybe there was not a specific group that the church was trying to reach with this service and it was seen by the congregants as an additional time for them, not for non-attenders. It may have been more effective if the leadership would have placed an emphasis on the service being either for a select generational, or even spiritual group as discussed in Charles Arn’s book How to Start a New Service (1997).”

This is the type of posting graduate students will want to utilize in their online conversations. Student 2 found reliable and valid scholarly insights on Student X’s situation and shared those with her.

The result was it not only helped the Student X, but it also helped me the professor see that Student A understood the principles of Dr. Arn’s book.

What Student 1 did wrong:

Student 1 didn’t share any ideas from Dr. Arn’s book, but rather just referred the student to it. Student 1 had probably read Dr. Arn’s book and knew it would be helpful. But as the professor, I have no evidence that Student 1 knew what was in the book.

So if a student simply points to a book for the solutions, it doesn’t earn many points. That is because it’s not clear to the professor if they have read more than the cover of the book. Now, I know that the vast majority of my students have read these books, but for fairness to all students I must see written proof that they know and can apply the principles in the books they cite. And the best way to do that is to help others.

So it’s a win-win. First, Student 2’s type of posting helps the person to whom the student is responding (Student X). And second, it demonstrates to the professor that the responder (Student 2) understands the scholarship on the subject at hand.

From one of my syllabi:

Grading Policies

Your grading policy for your course is dependent on your school and program.  Your grading policies can be found in the IWU Catalog.


In most workshops, there are discussion forums.  These discussions focus on either a special topic or general material from the workshop.  You will be given instructions on which discussion forums apply to the current workshop.  Complete discussions individually or in study groups as instructed. Well-thought-out postings that add something intellectually to the discussion are required for a good grade. Your initial postings should fully answer the questions posed in the course interface.  Additionally, you must reply to at least two of your classmate’s postings. Postings of the “I agree” or “Me too” variety will not suffice.

In these weekly discussions conduct some outside reading in a minimum of two to three books to support your observations. This might include a Bible commentary, other books on this topic, etc.  Customarily the graduate school student is expected to be skimming a minimum of several outside books each week and bring them into, when helpful, the online conversation.  Also bring into the conversation relevant ideas from your other course textbooks.  Thus, each week the student should be bringing into the online conversation one to two textbooks and two to three outside references as a minimum.

Also be sure to reply to any followup questions posted by your instructor. These are designed to help you dig deeper into application and theory.

Initial posts are due by Tuesday 11:59pm.  Follow up posts are due by Thursday 11:59pm.

End-of-week Papers

Most weeks an end-of-week paper will be due by Thursday 11:59pm. Like your discussions these end-of-week papers should cite relevant outside readings which support your observations. Similar to the discussion parameters, the graduate school student is expected at a minimum to be skimming several outside books each week and bringing them to bear upon their weekly papers (with citations).  Also, don’t forget to bring into your papers relevant ideas from other course textbooks.

And, unless specified differently by your professor, your end-of-week papers should comply with APA formatting rules and include an abstract.

An Expectation of Outside Scholarship

Therefore for B level work, the student should each week be utilizing and citing in their weekly papers and discussion forums, one to two textbooks and two to three outside references.  Remember however, this is for B level work.  A person seeking a higher grade would be expected to do better.

Letter Grade Equivalencies

Description of Work

Clearly stands out as excellent performance. Has unusually sharp insights into material and initiates thoughtful questions. Sees many sides of an issue. Articulates well and writes logically and clearly. Integrates ideas previously learned from this and other disciplines. Anticipates next steps in progression of ideas. Example “A” work should be of such nature that it could be put on reserve for all cohort members to review and emulate. The “A” cohort member is, in fact, an example for others to follow. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

Demonstrates a solid comprehension of the subject matter and always accomplishes all course requirements. Serves as an active participant and listener. Communicates orally and in writing at an acceptable level for the degree program. Work shows intuition and creativity. Example “B” work indicates good quality of performance and is given in recognition for solid work; a “B” should be considered a good grade and awarded to those who submit assignments of quality less than the exemplary work described above. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

Quality and quantity of work in and out of class is average. Has marginal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at least minimally. Typical interaction will be 3 or fewer times in each forum.

Quality and quantity of work is below average. Has minimal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at below acceptable levels. Typical interaction will be two or fewer times in each forum.

Quality and quantity of work is unacceptable and does not qualify the student to progress to a more advanced level of work.

ONLINE & Criteria, Strategies and Research Issues of Context-Aware Ubiquitous Learning

by Hwang, G.-J., Tsai, C.-C., & Yang, S. J. H. (2008). Criteria, Strategies and Research Issues of Context-Aware Ubiquitous Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11 (2), 81-91.

ABSTRACT: Recent progress in wireless and sensor technologies has lead to a new development of learning environments, called context-aware ubiquitous learning environment, which is able to sense the situation of learners and provide adaptive supports. Many researchers have been investigating the development of such new learning environments; nevertheless, the criteria of establishing a context-aware ubiquitous learning environment have not yet been clearly defined, not to mention the strategies of conducting effective learning activities. To resolve these problems, this paper presents the basic criteria, strategies, and research issues of context-aware ubiquitous learning, and identifies the necessary check items as well for the development of such learning environment. Illustrative examples of conducting context-aware ubiquitous learning activities and the requirements of setting up such learning environment are also presented at the end of this paper.

1. Introduction

In past decade, the rapid advance of broadband and wireless Internet technologies has promoted the utilization of wireless applications in our daily lives. A variety of invisible embedded devices and corresponding software components have also been developed and connected to the Internet. Ubiquitous computing is referred to a new technology which enables people to seamlessly utilize huge amounts and various kinds of “functional objects” anytime and anywhere through network connections (Rodríguez & Favela, 2003; Minami et al., 2004). Another feature of ubiquitous computing is the use of wireless communication objects embedded with sensors to detect users and environment information for the provision of personalized services (e.g., RFID, Radio-Frequency Identification).

In recent years, e-learning researchers noticed that the progress of wireless communication and sensor technologies have evolved the research issues of e-learning to mobile learning (m-learning), and now is evolving from m-learning to ubiquitous learning (u-learning). Several significant characteristics of u-learning, which make it different from conventional e-learning, have been discussed, including seamless services, context-aware services, and adaptive services (Bomsdorf, 2005; Hwang, 2006; Yang et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2007). In an ideal u-learning environment, computing, communication, and sensor devices are embedded and integrated into learners’ daily life to make learning immersive. Based on this concept, Yang (2006) proposed a learning environment facilitated with context aware peer to peer search to empower learning resource finding and sharing. Nevertheless, as learning environments change so quickly, u-learning has not yet been clearly defined, not to mention the strategies for conducting learning activities in such an environment. To cope with these problems, we attempt to propose the criteria for establishing a u-learning environment in this paper; moreover, the characteristics of m-learning and u-learning are compared in order to more clearly identify the features and potentials of u-learning.

2. Characteristics of a Ubiquitous Computing Environment

To develop context-aware and seamlessly integrated Internet environments, a variety of new techniques and products concerning ubiquitous computing have been developed in recent years, such as sensors and actuators, RFID tags and cards, wireless communication, mobile phones, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) and wearable computers.

From the system designer’s point of view, physical integration and spontaneous interoperation are the two main characteristics of ubiquitous computing systems (Kindberg & Fox, 2002). Physical integration means that a ubiquitous computing system involves some integration between computing nodes and the physical world. For example, … The room contains digital furniture such as chairs with sensors, whiteboards that record what is written on them, and projectors that can be activated from anywhere in the room, using a PDA.

In the meantime, a ubiquitous system must spontaneously interoperate in changing environments. A component interoperates spontaneously if it interacts with a set of communicating components that can change both identity and functionality over time as its circumstances change (Kindberg & Fox, 2002). A spontaneously interacting component changes partners during its normal operation, as it moves or as other components enter its environment; it changes partners without needing new software or parameters (Feeney et al., 2001). For example, to seamlessly hold a video conference, the system needs to immediately locate the nearest functional objects, such as a CCD camera and display equipment, for each attendee. If the attendee moves toward another room, the system will change devices according to the user’s context, so that the video conference can be seamlessly continued. If the attendee switches his or her device from a notebook with a 100 Mbps local area network to a PDA with a lower-speed wireless network, the system will locate additional translation coders or drivers accordingly.

From the user’s point of view, in a ubiquitous computing environment, anyone can make use of computers that are embedded everywhere in a public environment, at any time. A user equipped with a mobile device can connect to any of them, and access the network by using wireless communication technologies (Uemukai et al., 2004). Moreover, not only can a user access the network actively, but computers around the user can recognize the user’s behavior and offer various services according to the user’s situation, the mobile terminal’s facility, the network bandwidth, and so on (Cheng & Marsic, 2002). User assistance via ubiquitous computing technologies is realized by providing users with proper decisions or decision alternatives. That is, a ubiquitous computing technology-equipped system supplies users with timely information and relevant services by automatically sensing users’ various context data, and smartly generating proper results (Kwon et al., 2005). Therefore, by employing this new technology in education, the learning system is not only adapted to the individual’s needs, but is also actively involved in his or her learning activity…

Read more about uLearning here: Hwang, G.-J., Tsai, C.-C., & Yang, S. J. H. (2008). Criteria, Strategies and Research Issues of Context-Aware Ubiquitous Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11 (2), 81-91.

ONLINE & The death of “online” learning in higher ed?

by Craig Weidemann and Karen Pollack , University Business, March 2016.

… by 2025, the phrase “online learning” could disappear from the common vernacular. How could such a good thing die so young? Two words: ubiquity and integration
In the 15 or so years that online learning has been with us, numerous studies have found that learning outcomes in an online environment are the same, if not better, than classroom-based learning outcomes. The question is no longer how online education compares to face-to-face learning, but rather whether the pedagogy enables the student to achieve the intended learning outcomes. The delivery mode is irrelevant…

We have moved from classroom-based learning to electronic learning (eLearning) to mobile learning (mLearning) to ubiquitous learning (uLearning).

Fully immersive learning

What does ubiquitous learning mean to a research-based institution, as we strive to support a vibrant student learning community?

Ten years from now, we will be wearing our devices and experiencing the world around us through a variety of other technologies. We will be talking simply about learning—an immersive experience that is not necessarily live and not necessarily tethered to a physical classroom space. It may not be a wholly online environment, either. The label “online” will fade from existence.

What are the implications of these ubiquitous, integrated learning experiences?..

Diverse and mobile faculty

In the United States, public and private four-year nonprofit institutions showed the largest growth in the number of students taking at least one distance education course, with a 7.2 percent and a 12.7 percent increase, respectively, since 2012-13.

Penn State World Campus is attracting growing numbers of traditional-age students, reflecting a national trend. Although 18- to 24-year-olds are not our target audience, their numbers have increased by 60 percent since 2012-13.

That’s a small percentage of our student body, but one that is clearly growing. Online education is becoming a routine part of the undergraduate college experience.

We might anticipate that by the year 2025 our faculty will look different, too. A tech tool that may be foreign today will be second nature to the faculty of tomorrow. Our faculty, just like our student body, will be increasingly mobile and diverse.

Craig Weidemann is vice president for outreach and vice provost for online learning at Penn State University and Karen Pollack is assistant vice provost for online undergraduate and blended programs.

Read more about uLearning here: Hwang, G.-J., Tsai, C.-C., & Yang, S. J. H. (2008). Criteria, Strategies and Research Issues of Context-Aware Ubiquitous Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11 (2), 81-91.

WOMEN LEADERS & Online Students Give Instructors Higher Marks If They Think Instructors Are Men

by Lillian MacNell and Matt Shipman, No. Carolina State Univ. News, 12/9/14.

A new study shows that college students in online courses give better evaluations to instructors they think are men – even when the instructor is actually a woman.

“The ratings that students give instructors are really important, because they’re used to guide higher education decisions related to hiring, promotions and tenure,” says Lillian MacNell, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student in sociology at NC State. “And if the results of these evaluations are inherently biased against women, we need to find ways to address that problem.”

To address whether students judge female instructors differently than male instructors, the researchers evaluated a group of 43 students in an online course. The students were divided into four discussion groups of 8 to 12 students each. A female instructor led two of the groups, while a male instructor led the other two.

However, the female instructor told one of her online discussion groups that she was male, while the male instructor told one of his online groups that he was female. Because of the format of the online groups, students never saw or heard their instructor.

At the end of the course, students were asked to rate the discussion group instructors on 12 different traits, covering characteristics related to their effectiveness and interpersonal skills.

“We found that the instructor whom students thought was male received higher ratings on all 12 traits, regardless of whether the instructor was actually male or female,” MacNell says. “There was no difference between the ratings of the actual male and female instructors.”

In other words, students who thought they were being taught by women gave lower evaluation scores than students who thought they were being taught by men. It didn’t matter who was actually teaching them.

The instructor that students thought was a man received markedly higher ratings on professionalism, fairness, respectfulness, giving praise, enthusiasm and promptness.

“The difference in the promptness rating is a good example for discussion,” MacNell says. “Classwork was graded and returned to students at the same time by both instructors. But the instructor students thought was male was given a 4.35 rating out of 5. The instructor students thought was female got a 3.55 rating.”

The researchers view this study as a pilot, and plan to do additional research using online courses as a “natural laboratory.”

“We’re hoping to expand this approach to additional courses, and different types of courses, to determine the size of this effect and whether it varies across disciplines,” MacNell says.

The paper, “What’s in a Name: Exposing Gender Bias in Student Ratings of Teaching,” was published online Dec. 5 in the journal Innovative Higher Education. Co-authors are Dr. Adam Driscoll of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Dr. Andrea Hunt of the University of North Alabama. Driscoll and Hunt received their doctoral degrees from NC State…

Read more at … http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/12/macnell-gender-2014/

HOME OFFICE & To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This Stanford University study found that people who work at home have less distractions and are 13% more effective than those who go into the office. Read more this interesting study in the Harvard Business Review.

Article by Nicholas Bloom, Harvard Business Review, 2/14/14

Read more at … http://hbr.org/2014/01/to-raise-productivity-let-more-employees-work-from-home/ar/1

SEMINARIES & Their Future: My Interview w/ #OutreachMagazine #Forecast

Rphoto 5ecently I was asked by a writer for Outreach Magazine to talk about the future of seminary education.  Since, I’ve written on this since the 1990s, I’m often asked my thoughts.  Here are my (unedited) replies about what I think the future seminary will look like:

Outreach Magazine:  What shifts or trends are you seeing in culture, in the Church, or in your students that challenge you to change the seminary experience for today’s students?

Whitesel:  Christian leaders today want accessibility, practicality and economy. That is why we designed our seminary from the ground up. We are like a church plant, we started with a clean slate. And that is why we’ve been able to be so innovative. All of our courses our team taught by a theologian and an application (praxis) professor. That is probably why we’ve grown in a little over four years to over 400 students.

Outreach Magazine:  How are seminaries meeting the needs and challenges of emerging leadership?

Whitesel: Many seminaries are experimenting with online education. But often there’s a great deal of pushback from the professors and even the administration. Seminaries have not historically been organizations that embrace innovation.

However our seminary, because it is a new and growing young seminary, has established innovation as one of our founding principles. And, we are part of Indiana Wesleyan University with over 10,000 students that has utilized online education for over 15 years. So we have an experienced with online education that most seminaries just don’t have. That’s allowed us to led the innovation of tomorrow’s education of seminarians.

Outreach Magazine:  Anything else you could say about this?

Whitesel:  You didn’t ask this, but here is a good question: “what will the seminary of the next 20 years look like?”  I believe it will use virtual reality to bring to life some of the great historical seminary minds, either through holograms or video. You will be able to have George Ladd appear in your class on New Testament theology, and then have Geoffrey Bromley appear in your course on church history. Those were two of the famous professors from Fuller Seminary in the 1970s. And so the seminary professor of tomorrow will be more of a curator. I’ve already begun to do this by curating http://www.ChurchHealthWiki.com with almost 500 articles on church leadership and growth, curated for tomorrow seminarians.  So the future the seminary will be much more virtual and relevant with videos of historical and contemporary theologians – but curated for their practical insights by practitioner professors.