Auckland Park Theological Seminary Distance Education
ATS’ mode of delivery is blended, off-campus/non-venue-based, and Internet supported. The baseline learning support for all learners is printed, non-digital material (Reader, Study, and Assessment manuals) that does not require Internet access.
The main reason why ATS continues to rely on printed, non-digital material as our primary tool for teaching and learning is that a segment of our target market does not yet have access to a reliable Internet connection and/or is unable to purchase data for connectivity. ATS does not want to exclude these learners.
ATS’ enrolment is bi-annual and the same study sequence is applicable to all learners.
Printed material as a strategy of teaching and learningThe printed Reader and Study manual assists the learner’s private study, with weekly outcomes, reading work, explanatory notes, and self-assessments. It also provides information on who is available to support the learner (lecturers, tutors, and administrative personnel), when those people are available, what kind of support can be expected from them and how they should be contacted.
The Reader contains the printed learning material pertaining to the specific module. The Reader comprises of the minimum required content the learner needs in order to achieve the outcomes for each module. The learner is not required to purchase any additional textbooks or handbooks except for Missiology and Dogmatics. Every module has a recommended reading list to supplement the material. However, in order to expose learners to different viewpoints, provisions are made within the program to facilitate the development of learners’ skills in using library and other learning resources and finding up-to-date knowledge.
The motivation for the compiled Reader (that serves as the learner’s textbook) is to reduce the cost for the learner, and for remote and/or rural learners to effortlessly access the baseline content.
Lecturers are responsible to compile the Reader and this offers the opportunity to incorporate findings from recent Masters and Doctoral research projects into the Reader. Coinciding with ATS’ view of education, this is one of the ways ATS keeps its teaching and learning relevant to the post colonized, South African context, addresses the development needs of society, and contributes to the creation, sharing, and evaluation of knowledge through research, learning, and teaching.
The Study manual (a tutorial letter as a stand-in for the face-to-face class situation) is aligned with the Reader’s content and directs the learner’s private study of the Reader, with weekly outcomes, reading work, and self-assessments. It helps the learner to direct and assess his/her understanding and progress in the learning process with the help of reflection exercises and self-assessment questions (prompts) and/or activities.
Online video tutoring sessionsIn the absence of face-to-face, on-campus teaching, effective learning, and dissemination of knowledge are supported by online video tutoring sessions. Lecturers hold regular virtual meetings in which learners can attend to discuss program content or get clarity on learning issues. Learners can also schedule face-to-face tutoring sessions with academic staff on-campus. Auckland Park Theological Seminary Distance Education
The module outline, module outcomes, and chapter outcomes provided in the Study Manual explains the expectations of each assessment task and the criteria and standards by which performance will be judged.
Formative assessment is done through assignments, tests, and experiential learning tasks and/or a variety of online assessment activities (as guided by ATS’ policy on Assessments). Formative feedback on these assignments, tests, and experiential learning tasks are given by lecturers as personalized notes. A set of criteria, as defined by the lecturer, is provided as feedback in the case of online self-assessment and peer assessments. Formative assessment takes place during the course of the semester and contributes to the final assessment.
Within the scope of distance learning, the integrity of all assessments requires special attention. ATS has developed a network of assessment centers, which are run by trained, qualified invigilators. This partnership is built on the basis of integrity and honesty from the invigilator, to ensure the security and integrity of the assessment process pertaining to written tests and examinations.
Library service in support of teaching and learning
Workshops and seminars support teaching and learning in that it exposes learners to different viewpoints, creates an opportunity for debate, and develops critical thought processes. It also supports lifelong learning since alumni and people within the ‘industry’ also attend. This coincides with ATS’ view of education to contribute to the creation, sharing, and evaluation of knowledge and to engage in the pursuit of academic scholarship and intellectual inquiry through research, learning, and teaching.