Rationale and History
Before the fall of 2006, no system was in place that would enable students to take courses within a collaborative network of Catholic seminaries and theological institutions. Because of the distance between seminaries and theological institutions, students who desired to take courses outside their curriculum had to rely on nearby universities to accommodate them.
To resolve this problem, two dozen academic deans serving in member schools of the National Catholic Educational Association's Seminary Department agreed in the fall of 2006 to spearhead a Catholic Distance Learning Network in which member schools would be able to offer their courses online and receive enrollments of students from other member schools at no tuition cost to the students or member institutions.
The Catholic Distance Learning Network accomplished this in the years that followed in two ways:
- We qualified educators in theological studies to teach online, and
- We ensured opportunities for the continuing education of these educators in the use of appropriate technologies.
In the first instance, we offered over the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009 an online course, sponsored by a grant from the Wabash Center, dealing with how to teach online.
The course, which remains available, focuses on the creation and adaptation of a syllabus for online teaching and learning, differences between transmissive and transactive methodologies, online course assessment, and student evaluation.
In May, 2014, the National Catholic Educational Association decided to focus exclusively on its elementary and secondary schools division (see https://www.ncea.org/about-us/ncea-future-direction-and-structure-overview), and the Seminary Department began a year-long process of closing down its activities.
The Catholic Distance Learning Network closed its virtual doors on September 30, 2015, but its materials continue to serve elementary, secondary and higher education faculty through the Massive Open Online Course system of Holy Apostles College & Seminary.
To view faculty who have received certification in online teaching and learning between the years 2006 and 2015 and those who have received certificates of completion in the materials through their participation in the Massive Open Online Course, click here.
In the second instance, we offered nine asynchronous workshops in the years 2007-2009 on online teaching and learning in support of theological studies. These workshops, which remain available, may remain of interest to educators in theological studies.
- Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, Executive Director of the CDLN
Assoc. Prof. of Interdisciplinary Studies at Holy Apostles College & Seminary (Cromwell, CT)
- Dr. Daniel Van Slyke, Associate Director of the CDLN
Academic Dean of Online Learning at Holy Apostles College & Seminary (Cromwell, CT)