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The authors document the rise of so-called hybrid models of distance education and articulate their relevance for theological education in North America. In the first section, the authors lay out a typology of the visions for technology current among theological educators. One feature of this typology is the recognition of two very different ways of thinking about distance education. Early-stage thinking is characterized by a strong dichotomy between online and face-to-face courses. Later-stage thinking has tended toward the development of hybrid programs. The following sections explore the history of the development of hybrid models and how hybrid courses and programs work. In two final sections, the authors ponder the possible strengths of hybrid programs for theological education and the issue of hybrid models and ATS accreditation standards. A close reading of the current ATS standards for distance education reveals that they have been crafted according to models that are both outmoded in terms of their pedagogical sophistication and less than fully relevant to the ways in which distance programs are actually being developed by seminaries in North America.


Originally published in Theological Education, Volume 40, Number 2 (2005): 145-164

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