Open Enrolment Courses: Broadening the Reach of Theological Education

The college offered its largest and most diverse array of online open enrolment courses this year, reaching a growing number of students across the United States and Canada, and helping build cultures of discipleship and Christian formation in local congregations.

Open enrolment courses are designed to be short (no more than five weeks in length), focused on one particular topic or theme, and accessible to lay people who desire to learn more about their faith but may not have much background or experience with the study of the Christian tradition.
Our numerous innovations this year included:

  • Offering our first courses in French, thanks to our partnership with the United Theological College.
  • Offering our first course using a hybrid teaching modality. In our winter course on leading a Bible study on the Gospel of Luke, participants engaged with some material at their own pace in an asynchronous fashion and gathered together online for some learning in a synchronous fashion
  • Adapted material from our practical ministry courses for a wide audience, including a course on preaching and another on offering pastoral care.

We estimate that close to 500 people engaged with our open enrolment courses this year. Some participated as part of groups that then gathered together to discuss the material after class. Some joined as individuals. Some took more than one course over the course of the year.

Valerie Tryon from Hanmer, Ontario in the Diocese of Algoma has taken several of the online courses. She says, “Whether taken for leisure or more serious study Dio’s open enrolment courses are worth a try. The quality is consistent and suited to a variety of interests, abilities and applications.” Caroline Filler, from Verdun, Quebec took the course on leading a Bible study on the Gospel of Luke and then used the curriculum provided in the course to lead a Lenten Bible study in her church, Epiphany Anglican in the Diocese of Montreal. “The classes and curriculum provided left me feeling confident for the Bible study,” she says. “The themes and questions provided led to rich and thoughtful discussions. These parables and passages of scripture are familiar, but the themes and questions suggested seemed to bring new light and another angle to them for many of our parishioners.”

Randy Gates from Austin, Quebec in the Diocese of Montreal took the course on pastoral care taught by college chaplain, Jen Bourque. “I believe that we all have a responsibility and a calling to take care of others. Having the opportunity to participate in the open enrolment classes offered by the college, I feel that I am better prepared to continue along my journey of faith and of caring for my fellow neighbour. Please continue to make these kinds of quality courses available to us all.”

Other topics for this year included close studies of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, a course on reading the Bible at a time of climate change, and an introduction to Exodus. We’ll be announcing next year’s line-up of courses this summer. Stay tuned for details!