Faith Time: the pandemic’s impact on Christian education

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Joining us this morning is Dr. Lonnie Burnett, the president of the University of Mobile. We wanted to talk about how the pandemic has impacted Christian education. Here’s a look at our conversation

Anchor: What’s the biggest impact you’ve seen so far?

Guest: The biggest initial impact was the immediate shift from a primarily on-ground delivery format to a completely online format. This was accompanied by our students moving out of the dorms, closing the dining hall, and canceling all athletic and extra-curricular activities. Like all universities, we had a financial impact as we had to refund room and board payments. This is a major source of revenue for us.

Anchor: How well do you think the mostly virtual semester went?

Guest: It actually went much better than I expected. The students and faculty both realized that this was a situation out of our control and both groups simply dug in to make it work. The entire process was transformed over a two-week period.

Anchor: What do you think students and teachers lose not being in the same room?

Guest: In a smaller, Christ-centered centered university like ours, we stand out by our one on one interaction with students. We take great pride in the way we not only instruct students academically but also mentor them spiritually. This becomes more difficult when you lose that personal interaction.

Anchor: What have been some unexpected upsides to educating this way?

Guest: One of the upsides was that many of our faculty who had been very much against online education, when forced to go that route, found out it was not so bad after all. We found creative ways to stay in touch with our students. We also proved that a smaller university has an advantage in that we can be nimble when we have to.

Anchor: What do you anticipate will happen in the fall?

Guest: We are planning on a return to “normal” on-ground operations. This will of course encompass some modifications based on what government guidelines are in place at the time. We will most likely have to place a limit on some class sizes and re-design some classrooms. We are spending a good portion of our summer planning for all possible scenarios.

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