*** Note: This is a slight adaptation of a story that was originally written by Josephine Comparet (Marketing Manager of Morling College), who gave us permission to share on our blog.
There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives – altered our habits, our lifestyles and our plans for 2020. For Morling College, it was a reminder of how the college was first established when Australia was at war in 1916 and J.A. Packer’s presidential address called on the churches to respond – as the hour of the world’s deepest need was also the hour of the church’s greatest opportunity.
As one of the longest standing theological colleges in Australia, where many of our church’s leaders studied, Morling College responded to the pandemic by staying committed to their mission ‘to shape and equip Christ-followers to impact the world’, and made history when on-campus training and services went fully online in March.
The College launched two new Australian College of Theology (ACT) awards. Morling’s Chief Academic Officer David Starling explained, “The new, six-month Undergraduate Certificate is part of the Commonwealth Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, intended to make education more affordable and accessible for those who need to reskill or upskill during this time.”
The government’s COVID-19 support (including the temporary exemption from FEE-HELP loan fees) combined with Morling’s fee subsidy on all ACT units, means students completing the new Undergraduate Certificate courses this year can look forward to gaining a qualification that could open opportunities to new ministries, with significant savings.
“We are also pleased to announce two new postgraduate units in our Chaplaincy and Education awards, which will cater to the increasing need for professional development during this time,” adds David. The Chaplaincy unit will give pastors, pastoral care workers and chaplains the tools to identify opportunities and help them develop good practices that promote a thriving ministry through chaplaincy and pastoral care. The postgraduate Education unit will help teachers formulate a fresh approach to learning, taking into account the unique cognitive profile of students with autism.
Use of Technology:
The College has also responded to the pandemic with the creative use of technology, providing weekly devotion videos aimed at enriching students with God’s word, and ‘Zoom’ prayer meetings where students, lecturers and staff could submit prayer requests. “Morling has used COVID-19 restrictions to explore new opportunities for teaching and connecting with others. This has helped us enhance the delivery of online lectures and our student services,” comments Gayle Kent, Chief Community Life Officer at Morling College.
The faculty aimed for quality teaching that’s lively, engaging and interactive. “We have created an environment that facilitates both the understanding of self and provide a space to build the skills needed to effectively help others,” explains Kim Kownacki, a lecturer in Morling’s Counselling program. “We did this by moving from interactive learning in a large group, to using breakout rooms where students practice in small groups and are guided in the use of skills as they are taught.”
On-campus, postgraduate student Matthew sums up his experience: “I am so thankful for the staff who have worked hard to make the transition to online study so smooth. It feels like new normal has been established. I like to learn in community, and live stream lectures mean we can still have some group discussions and interjections which I find academically valuable.”
Please pray for Morling College students who, as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, can look forward to a return to some face-to-face teaching (via regular weekly lectures or on-campus intensives).