Recently, Amy Kardash (Director of Programs at the In Trust Center) chatted with Roxanne Russell (Director of Online Learning at Candler School of Theology) about the In Trust Center’s upcoming webinar, Online Course Design.

The following is a peek into their conversation about the upcoming webinar, especially focused on the question, "Why does this topic matter to board members and administrators?"

Q. Why is the topic of course design relevant for administrators and board members?

Roxanne Russell: Course design is crucially relevant to how well the school fulfills its mission. Online courses in the D.Min. reflect Candler’s mission statement at multiple levels, including especially “the interaction of theoretical and practical learning in the classroom, in the church, and in other public settings,” a commitment “to enhance and integrate the intellectual, personal, professional, and spiritual growth of students,” and “a dynamic relationship of research and learning with local church congregations.” 

The success of this program depends on how well these courses are designed to create a significant learning experience for the students. The enhanced possibilities for asynchronous delivery of -- and engagement with -- course material in an online format provide greater flexibility to both faculty and students: with strategic course design, material can be spread over the course such that both the course content and the student’s own ministerial context form the learning experience. The integration of live class sessions through conferencing tools allows for students to benefit from face-to-face interaction without having to leave their places of work. 

Q. How has the leadership team (administration and board) been part of this discussion at your theological school? 

Roxanne Russell: Formal planning for the new D.Min. degree began in Candler’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) after urging from Candler alumni, administrators, and board members who expressed interest in rejuvenating the degree that had existed before at Candler. The design team reviewed the purpose of the degree and examined examples of best practice in existing D.Min. programs (e.g., the use of specialized “tracks” within the D.Min., cohort models of learning, and course delivery via a fixed series of modules), as well as reflecting Candler’s particular curricular strengths. 

Q. Do you have any suggestions for articles or posts to share in advance of the webinar? 

Roxanne Russell: Yes. This "Bring your Online Learning Strategy into Focus" Blog Series offers insights into the components of online learning. Particularly relevant to this upcoming webinar is "Develop."

For more on online learning, see:



Online Course Design
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
1:00 p.m. EST (60 minutes)

Questions? Contact Amy Kardash at 302-654-7770 or