Why consider an online course?
While "in-person" training allows you to connect with a few members of your class[,] – [an online class] using the multiple modes of education and feedback ensures that all students participate fully, and develop a real relationship with classmates that may be thousands of miles apart - all while on their own time schedule.
The "community" that develops by the sharing of ideas, and the open discussion that happens, far exceeds that of an "in-person" class. You're not limited by the time constraints of a classroom, and many students will continue to contribute to discussion topics from the first days of the class, as they experience events in their own lives that can enhance the discussion. Try doing that when you are together for only 1 or 2 days for 10 total hours!
I really believe that I have been able to learn the material that I have covered in my online classes very thoroughly, and apply that to real life much quicker than classroom materials.
Don't get me wrong, this is not an "easy way out" - you work very hard in these on-line classes, sometimes spending 2 or 3 times as much time on the material as you may in a traditional class - but - when you are done, you have a new set of skills that can be applied to help your local church.
I am new to the United Methodist Church, and a pastor’s wife. My profession has given me many skills that will naturally transfer to helping grow our church but my grounding in Methodism was limited. These classes have turned that around completely!
These classes are also the perfect vehicle to help existing Lay Servants suddenly faced with a heavy class load for re-certification, or to certify as a Lay Speaker. The ability to deepen in the content and expand understanding in these topics, without disrupting a normal life of work and family is priceless.
The dialogue spurred in this format cannot be compared to a classroom setting. It is far superior, other than the fact it is not face to face. A classroom only allows for limited discussion, while this format invites conversation and discussion on every post. Sharing of resources and experiences are endless, something deeply valuable in a system such as UMC. Not to mention the new relationships that have been formed and will continue across the United States and the world! This is another highly valued and unexpected outcome.