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Florida Baptist debuts new “virtual” Internet classroom

GRACEVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The twenty-first century has brought with it new and exciting changes at Florida Baptist Theological College where educators now celebrate the successful debut of the college’s long awaited on-line campus, according to FBTC president Thomas A. Kinchen.

After months of planning, FBTC went on-line this semester offering five undergraduate courses via the college’s new web site at www.fbtconline.org.

The journey to establish the on-line campus was birthed from a vision to provide accredited undergraduate education to those otherwise unable to attain higher education due to geographical and financial factors.

First, students who are members of churches affiliated with the Florida Baptist Convention and who take at least two courses each semester may apply for the Florida Ministerial Scholarship which usually pays $40 per semester hour.

Second, all regularly admitted degree-seeking students may apply for Title IV (federal) grants and loans. These funds are need-based and are distributed according to specific eligibility and enrollment requirements.

As a result, FBTC has created a viable option for students who once thought they would never be able to earn a college degree. “We are totally committed to offering the finest education available anywhere to those folks who are located everywhere. This is our finest opportunity to go to all of the world in equipping those who serve the Savior,” Kinchen said.

Distance Learning Director Jack Cunningham reported participation has exceeded expectations with the count now totaling 26 course enrollments for 78 semester hours.

“It is exciting to watch both students and professors become excited about a new way of teaching and learning, and we anticipate this as just the beginning,” Cunningham said.

Five courses are now available via FBTC’s on-line campus including American Cults and Sectarian Groups, The Doctrine of Creation, and New Testament Intensives in John, Hebrews and Revelation. Three more courses, in addition to American Cults and Sectarian Groups, and New Testament Intensives in John and Hebrews, will be offered beginning the summer semester. The three courses to be offered tentatively include Change and Conflict Management, The Development of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Principles of Teaching.

Ten additional courses will be added to the program in the fall of 2000 and spring of 2001 to total 50 semester hours offered on-line.

Students may earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies by using all 50-semester hours plus the addition of 10 elective hours to build upon an associate’s degree from an accredited institution. Participants with an associate’s degree can complete their bachelor’s degree as early as 2001.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of FBTC’s on-line campus is the assurance of the quality of both technology and coursework. In an effort to ensure the quality of the delivery system, FBTC has partnered with e-College.com to provide technology and services that make the on-line campus truly cutting-edge.

Students enrolled in on-line courses will take tests, submit assignments and communicate with professors and other students through the interactive medium.

“We are proud to partner with the Florida Baptist Theological College in developing their web-based education initiatives,” said Rob Helmick, president and CEO of eCollege.com. “The virtual campus and online courses that we have jointly created are an extension of the quality education and fine administrative services that FBTC offers to all of its students.”

Both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students are eligible to enroll for the on-line courses.

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  • Heather Stewart