Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: E-learning

Khan Academy helps home-schoolers

Khan Academy – a resource for MKs

A new page for MK/TCK resources has recently been added to the SEND U wiki. One of these resources, Khan Academy, is particularly helpful for parents and students alike as a tool for supplemental learning.

What is Khan Academy?

It is NOT: training to join Genghis Khan and his Hordes of the 1300 and 1400s.

It IS: a FREE online personalized learning resource for all ages.

“Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and more, including K-14 and test preparation.” (from their website)

What Does Romans Say About Preaching and Online Learning?

From my journal this morning:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. – Romans 1:8–13

Observation: Paul has heard about the faith of the Romans, and it encourages him (Rom 1:8). He prays for the church regularly (Rom 1:9-10). But he really wants to visit them, so that he can make them strong through his ministry of the Spirit in their midst, so that he and the church can be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Rom 1:12), and so that he can have a harvest among these Gentiles (Rom 1:13). Why does he need to come to Rome in order to minister to them? His epistle to them is obviously already an encouragement and a help to the Romans to make them strong. It is Paul’s most complete explanation of the Gospel. Why could possibly be still lacking in his ministry to them?  Why does he need to go to Rome when he can send this excellent, inspiring and doctrinally sound “sermon” or article to them?   Paul apparently does not know much about the specific problems and needs in the church and wants to interact with the Roman Christians to get to know them, and then address their situation more specifically. He wants to enjoy their company (Rom 15:24); he wants to be refreshed in their company (Rom 15:32).  In order to do so, he needs to see them.

Team Leader Training Module Concludes

We have now completed all four weeks of the online SEND Team Leader Orientation. Some of the participants are still completing their assignments but a number of them have already submitted their final evaluations. Since this was the beta run for this module, we did not charge anything for the training, but in exchange we asked all the participants to track the number of hours they spent on the course and post their evaluations of the material at the end of each week, and again at the end of the course. I see a few areas where I need to revise the material, but by in large, the evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive.

As has been documented by others, follow-up coaching after providing some training greatly enhances the impact of the training (see Keith Webb’s blog about this).   So in a couple of months, I will be contacting each of the participants to ask them how it is going with the plans they made during the course.  Each participant was asked to:

Online Training for Team Leaders in Week Three

We are now in our third week of the online course for SEND team leaders.   This week we are working on our job descriptions, after having discussed the essential tasks of a leader and the SEND Team Leader Profile in the previous two weeks.  I have been delighted to see 16 team leaders from many different SEND areas interact with one another in the class forums, encouraging one another, asking questions, and sharing principles they have learned about leadership.   We have participants from 8 different areas of SEND, and a wide range of leadership experiences in many different countries and contexts, so we have a lot of stories to tell.   There is never a time when everyone is online (or awake) at the same time, but as long as participants regularly login several times during the week, the discussions can flow as each participant posts his comments in an open forum that all the class members can read and reply to.

For me as facilitator, it has been a very positive experience thus far, and convinces me that online training across multiple time zones is not only possible and inexpensive, but can provide a quality learning experience as well. Of course, this is not my first experience with online training.  Over the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to take two training modules from EFCA EQUIP on this very topic of first developing and then facilitating online modules. Since these courses trained us by word and example how to make online courses highly interactive and focused on self-discovery, the learning experience was very enjoyable, and so much better than other distance education courses I have taken in the past.   Since my first course with EQUIP, I have wanted to try training within our mission using the same format, and now I am in the middle of realizing that dream.

Upcoming Online SEND Team Leader Training

On September 6, the first-ever SEND Team Leader online training module will begin, and I am thrilled to see the course is full.   Seventeen SEND team leaders registered, and I even had to turn a few away because we already have more than I had expected in the class.  I plan to offer the online module again early in 2011, after I have had a chance to work through the suggestions for improvement from the first group.    I am sorry that I was not able to accommodate everyone who wanted to take the course the first time around.

But if you are interested in taking some other online training modules offered by Grow2Serve, check out their list of upcoming courses.   I see that they are offering modules in Ministering in a Muslim context, Coaching for Fruitfulness and Effective Online Facilitation.   I took the course on Effective Online Facilitation earlier this year, as well as one on designing online courses last year, and both of them were highly interactive and proved to be really enjoyable learning experiences.

Pre-field Training is Too Good to be Restricted to New Missionaries

The SEND summer 2010 Candidate Orientation Program (COP) and Member Orientation Program (MOP) are now history, and after 7 weeks in North America, we are now back in Kiev, Ukraine.   While in Michigan at our international office where the training programs were hosted, I enjoyed getting to know two great groups of new SEND missionaries in these 2 pre-field programs. My primary purpose in attending COP and MOP was to better understand what we are teaching to new missionaries, and to look for ways that the two programs might be overlapping or missing some significant areas of necessary training. 

Although I had a few recommendations for both programs, my impressions were overwhelmingly positive.  The content of the training is significantly different from what I received 25 years ago, and understandably so because the context of the North American churches has also changed, and so has the options available for communication.   But I think the quality of the training has also significantly improved since I went through COP in 1985 (no MOP back then).  I realized that some of this pre-field training is just too good to be restricted to new appointees.   For example, I think many of us missionaries would really benefit by sitting down with someone from the SEND media department and discussing how we can improve our newsletters. In fact, if you struggle to communicate effectively and regularly with your donors and prayer partners, why don’t you make spending some time with the media department as one of your home service objectives? Take along some recent issues of your newsletter and ask them to give you some suggestions for how you can communicate more effectively. I know they will be kind – and helpful.

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