Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
In the spring semester of 2014, ILC launched its first college online course, Religion 102 (Old Testament), with a goal of having almost all of the required CLC teacher certification courses eventually available in an online format. Five years later, beginning in the fourth quarter of the current semester, Education 305, “Practical Theology for Teachers,” will be made available online for the first time. Readers of the Spokesman may recall a listing of the CLC certification courses in the “ILC Newsletter” article of September 2018. The only courses in that listing not available online are Religion Methods and the student teaching requirement. The hands-on nature of these two endeavors dictates that the student seeking certification work with a teacher or pastor in the local parochial school, while able to take all the other CLC certification courses online. Such an approach is intended to make the achievement of CLC certification easier than it was before.
The online college courses have also benefited a couple of our traditional students currently enrolled at ILC and at Immanuel Lutheran High School. Mrs. June Schmid, an education senior anticipating graduation this May, utilized the online platform to meet credit requirements in Religion 101. Danielle Gamble, a high school senior at Immanuel, Eau Claire, completed Religion 203 online during the first semester and is now taking online the continuation course Religion 204. In the fall of 2019 she intends to enroll in the education program at ILC and will have a six-credit head start in working toward becoming a parochial school teacher in our CLC church body. Taking religion courses for credit involves more than watching digital recordings of each class. As determined by the course instructor, online students take online quizzes and complete other assignments, which are submitted via email.
Many of the teacher certification courses are also required in the college pre-theological program so as to enroll in the seminary. These include Religion 101-102 (Old Testament), Religion 203-204 (New Testament), Religion 305-306 (Symbolics), Religion 407-408 (Dogmatics), and Education 204 (History & Philosophy of Education). Although pre-seminary students have not utilized the online format of these courses so far, the option is there and is currently being used by a non-traditional student enrolled in the Limited Ministry Program.
The Limited Ministry Program at ILC has been in place since the 1970s, but since the early 1980s it has not been pursued by any students. That pattern changed in late August when Allen Durham, a CLC member in Corpus Christi, Texas, began taking Religion 203-204 and Religion 407-408 as online courses. In recent years Allen has been able to assist his pastor by teaching Bible Class and also conducting lay services in Weslaco, Texas. He affirms that taking the New Testament courses and the Christian doctrine courses have greatly strengthened his knowledge of Scripture and its teachings, which is a great help in the current limited ministry work that he is doing. God willing, the online approach will continue with his taking Religion 101-102 and Religion 305-306 in the 2019-2020 school year.
College online courses for credit are not the only benefit of this program to the CLC constituency. During the five years of availability so far, several members have taken advantage of the auditing option for many of the courses, even in the years when the course is not offered to ILC students in residence. There is an audit price for all the available college courses, but the online high school course on 1 Corinthians is free. With the 1 Corinthians course and some of the college courses, there is an option for group use as well. For more information on the available courses and their costs for credit and audit, go to the ILC website (ilc.edu), click on academics, then online classes.
Steven Sippert is president of Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.