New class model provides the best of both worlds

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During the fall 2016 semester, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) introduced a new class model that combines the convenience of an online course with the camaraderie and interaction gained in the classroom. This new approach to learning, called the “3-9 Cohort,” is a cutting edge way to help students make the most of their educations with flexibility in their schedules.

The 3-9 model is a cross between a traditional campus course and a hybrid. Students spend one hour each week in class and complete the remaining two hours of coursework online. The courses were originally designed so that students could take them in groups of three classes per semester and move through the classes in a cohort with other students.

When bundled together, the classes allow students to come to campus only once a week for a three-hour class block that includes three separate one-hour classes, providing them a full time course load with flexibility. Students can also choose to take just one class in this format and are not required to take three at a time.

David Jones, who serves SEBTS as professor of Christian ethics, associate dean for graduate program administration and director of the Master of Theology program, is one of the first professors to teach a course in this new model. His class is structured so that students watch all lectures online and have the opportunity to spend one hour in class per week discussing readings and asking questions. 

“I really enjoy the 3-9 model because I’m getting to do things I wouldn’t normally be able to do,” said Jones. “Usually in a traditional format class you have to get through the lectures. There isn’t really a lot of time for Q&A with the students.”

In the 3-9 model, however, Jones says that he knows the lectures are covered online so he feels more freedom in the classroom. “We can really have an in-depth discussion about the textbook,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it as a professor because it’s a little more freeing, and students even seem to sense and have more of a freedom to ask questions and dialogue.”

Students who work full-time jobs often have a hard time balancing work, school and family life. This is one of the main reasons that Lesley Hildreth, a Master of Arts in Christian Studies student, decided to take the 3-9 class. “Working full time with a pretty demanding job, it is sometimes difficult to be away from my desk to attend class,” she said. “With the 3-9 class model, I can be in the classroom just once a week for 50 minutes and spend the remainder of the class time at home to watch lectures and complete my assignments.”

Hildreth says that she enjoys many things about this new class model. “It is the best of both worlds. I get face-to-face time with the professor and my classmates as well as the convenience of limited time in the classroom,” she said. “This gives me little interruption in my full-time job and the option to complete lectures and assignments at my convenience.”

Tre Wiggins, a Master of Divinity in Christian Ministry student, also took the 3-9 class model in the fall semester. “I’ve enjoyed the 3-9 class model the most for its flexibility,” he said. “Having a shorter lecture time afforded me the opportunity to work through class at my leisure.” 

Current and new students have the opportunity to register for the 3-9 classes. SEBTS is still accepting applications for new students for the spring 2017 semester. Contact the Admissions Office at 919.761.2280 or [email protected] for more information or apply now online

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