What's the problem? Spiritual formation in distance and online theological education

Diane Hockridge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The past decade has seen rapid and substantial changes in teaching and learning practices in Australian higher education institutions. Web-based technologies are increasingly used to offer flexible and online learning to both on-campus and distance students. These changes are also occurring in theological education institutions. There are however, concerns expressed in the theological education sector about the suitability and efficacy of distance or online learningfor studying theology. These concerns tend to focus around the concept of 'formation" which is generally considered to be an essential component of theological education. This article explores these concerns around distance and online learning and examines them in the context of a broader debate around the purpose and goals of theological education. It suggests that two broad approaches to developing formational distance and online theological education can be discerned in the literature. These focus on the importance of understanding the learning environment and understanding the learners and their contexts. It also considers whether theories and practices from the wider higher education sector might be relevant in the theological education context, and points to the need for further data collection and research in the area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Christian Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Flexible and online learning
  • Formation
  • Missional approach to theological education
  • Theological education
  • Transformative learning


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