South African Theological Seminary

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by stringfellow hawke, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Well, you’re correct about there being a distinction. But for clarification, I did not attend correspondence programs. While correspondence was an early model in what we used to call alternative or non-traditional education, it was embodied in classical correspondence programs such as Ohio University, Brigham Young U., Indiana U., and several others. Union and VCNU (Vermont College of Norwich University), at the time I attended, were both individually designed programs that did not use the traditional correspondence model. They were closer to the university-without-walls model that is much harder to find today, having been replaced by the current online models.

    Now, am I totally against online education? Of course not. I’ve seen some excellent online courses, and I’ve seen some crappy ones. I’ve even taken a few great ones myself, which I do occasionally to maintain certain security-related certifications in my particular branch of transportation.

    Am I totally against online degree programs? I don’t know where people got that idea, since I never said I was. You can do a comprehensive and solid program in many areas of the liberal arts and even some professional fields. IMO, they will not be as solid as programs that have more-than-online interaction and a bit more flexibility than most online programs, but that’s my opinion and I’m openly subjective about that.

    But let’s bring the issue home to this thread. I started on my B.A. from TESC in 1985 – that’s almost 30 years ago. The last time I revised NIFI]i] was in 1994 – that’s 20 years ago. I have said two things consistently over all of these years: (1) that graduate-level degrees in the helping professions should have a residential component, and (2) I consider pastoral ministry to be one of the helping professions.

    Therefore, the notion of a totally online degree preparing someone for the pastoral ministry is as potentially dangerous (from a consumer perspective) as the notion of a brain surgeon who received his or her training totally online.

    Now, since I mentioned NIFI, a quick note about the 75-point criteria. I took those off the web several years ago because I felt that they were outdated. Still relevant, but outdated. Remember, the last edition of the book goes back 20 years, and after that I got out of this field professionally. Why? Because I foresaw the coming prominence of online education, realized that keeping track of trends in higher education would be a full-time affair at the least, recognized that degree mills would continue to proliferate regardless of anything I said or did, and most of all, I found that I literally preferred schlepping around the country as a paid professional tourist.

    Except for the rare occasion on which I get into a pontifical mood, I watch these proceedings from a distance. I have neither time, energy, nor interest in revising the NIFI criteria to include the online models or other changes in the field, nor will I republish them in their last form because they are largely outdated. Besides, anyone who has halfway]/i] decent research skills can find these things for themselves, and I’ve sufficiently paid my dues in this field to say that I don’t want to be bothered. Thirty years ago, quite frankly, the major resource we had (since these forums didn’t exist) was John Bear. And with John’s work over the years plus a lot of postage stamps, we managed to find out what we needed and, hopefully, make sound decisions regarding our higher education.

    Am I sounding nostalgic? Hell, yeah, and I’ve earned the right to be. Because most of you young whipper-snappers and ignorant guttersnipes (I wish I had thought that up, but it’s from Pygmalion and, of course, My Fair Lady) are too damn lazy to do your own research. Yep, I’m old-fashioned to the extent that I have never typed with my thumbs, that I had to make photocopies out the wazoo because journal articles and legal opinions were not available online when I was a student, and have the wonderful memory of 3x5 cards strewn across my bed when I was writing my thesis and dissertation.

    There is yet another difference between my student days and today. Other than the trailblazing work of John Bear and a few others, I didn’t have a “me” to go to with my questions – I had to find answers on my own. Then, for a few years, dumb-asses like some of the people on these forums had not only me, but others with significant experience who no longer hang around here. People like Rich Douglas, Dennis Huber, Tom Nixon, and others who are no longer bothered with these forums.

    Are you a newbie? I’m delighted you have found Degree Info. But you can bet your ass that whatever the questions are that you have, they have been asked before. And they have been answered before. You may or may not have to learn research skills, but using the search function here at DI is a good place to start learning.

    Final note: Regarding my contention that online universities is an oxymoron or that they are the spawn of Satan… Holy crap, people, can’t y’all take a joke? It happens that I do believe the term is an oxymoron, but the only thing I can think of that’s the spawn of Satan is DLT. If you don’t know what that is, tough – it’s your homework. And if you think I’m being serious here, think again. On rare occasion, I find DLT hysterically funny. But if anyone tells them that, I’ll categorically deny it as a vicious rumor.

    For what it’s worth, I also think K-12 cyber schools are crap, and as to for-profit universities, I think we’re getting to the point where I can almost say “I told you so.” And yeah, I’m still RA or the highway. (Actually, in my case, I’m RA and the highway.) There are, of course, exceptions to every rule or principle, but I have no interest in discussing them online. That’s because I’m better than the rest of you are. Get over it.

    Yeah, people, I’m still joking. Stop taking me so seriously. More important, stop taking yourself so seriously. And don’t expect any further discussion from me – it’s a holiday, so I have some time to waste on your unwashed, unworthy souls. But tomorrow it’s back to business as usual.

    Happy Labor Day, and remember to thank a union member for weekends, even though the unions are leading the country to hell in a handbasket. (Yeah, I’m still joking. Get over it.)
  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Okay, I found Ted’s and Steve's comments as I was about to post the other responses, so I’ll address them briefly. Very briefly.

    First, see above – graduate programs that purport to prepare persons for pastoral ministry and that are solely online or solely distance in any manner are a joke. As a helping profession, ministry training should have a residential component. Period. Second, one of the key indicators of a degree mill is that they do not reveal the source of their faculty’s credentials. Now, remember that I did not call SATS a degree mill, but I did say that they fit certain criteria that would lead me in that direction. Their faculty listings are one of those areas. Their degree requirements are another, but I’m not going to get into that here because I just don’t want to be bothered.

    Finally, for what it’s worth, I fail to understand why students in the U.S. would want to earn a degree through SATS, nor why someone in South Africa would want to earn a degree from an American school. Nor why so many blithering idiots and intellectual numb-nuts think that the best criteria for schools are words like cheap, fast and easy. But y’all can discuss that amongst yourselves.

    The bottom line is that I find SATS to be a joke. Me. Moi. And I don’t care if anyone else does or doesn’t. It’s called an opinion. And I’m delighted to call it a subjective opinion. But you can bet your buns that with my credentials, it’s a highly informed opinion. You may agree or disagree, but you’ll do so without me. Because I’m better than you. All of you. Each and every one of you. (See above comments on taking me too seriously.)

    Now, do I think SATS is a degree mill? All things considered, no, I don’t. Do I think it’s a joke. Damn right I do.

    Meanwhile, we take you to Boobie Bible Baptist Church of Beebe, interviewing a SATS graduate to be their new pastor… “So, when you did your missionary work in South Africa… What? Excuse me? You were never in South Africa? Um, where did you do your pastoral internship? You never did a pastoral internship? Um… Next!”

    And they are welcome to their opinion, as is anyone on this forum who disagrees with me. I’m still laughing on the way down the road. And now, I'm outta here - love to all.
  3. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    My introduction to distance learning came via the 1991 edition of Bears’ Guide (in the early editions it was Bear’s instead of Bears’). Although most of the school’s evaluated in Bear’s Guide were non-religious (which is the subject of my interest), I was immediately intrigued with the concept distance learning. Then, in 1993, I saw an advertisement for Steve Levicoff’s book, Name-It-Frame-It. I purchased the book and even contacted Steve via phone at the Institute of Religion and Law and spoke with him personally. I have great respect for both John and Steve’s introductory work in distance learning.

    BG and NIFI became the catalyst for the past 23 years of my own research. In the beginning, I poured over tons of material and spent a small fortune in postage accumulating catalogs. Then, in 1995, I bought my first computer and a year later gained access to Al Gore’s wonderful invention—the Internet. The Internet transformed not only the concept of research, but also distance learning.

    To address some of Steve’s opinions in this post:

    First, I agree that in some of the helping professions there needs to be a residential component to specific aspects of the program. Just as a surgeon could certainly complete some parts of his studies at a distance, few would want to undergo bypass surgery from a surgeon who had no hands-on training in the field. That said, some online degree programs for pastors allow the theological component to be completed online, while residential components (eg, Clinical Pastoral Education, counseling, etc) may be completed elsewhere, then transferred into the program.

    Second, in the field of theology proper, via the use of Skype, conference calls, e-mail, the use of local libraries, etc., studies all the way through the dissertation can certainly be completed at a distance.

    Third, not everyone can afford the ever escalating cost of an academic degree here in the USA. So for some, the South African/Australian/UK route is a viable option. In my case, living in the USA, I earned a B, M and professional doctorate from USA RA schools. These were not distance learning degrees. I then earned two research degrees (M & PhD) from a non-USA institution. These were neither fast nor easy, but they were cheap (cheaper) compared to the cost of a USA degree, which is the reason I opted for this route. Both degrees were evaluated by the IERF and found to be equivalent to the same degrees awarded by USA RA schools. While I respect Steve’s early work in DL, his opinions (by his own admission) are just that. Steve is content to live on the major highways of the USA, I am content with my two non-USA research degrees. :)
  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Indeed he is. But I usually pray to him as "Saint Levicoff in thy Rig on High." :smile:

    And I'm more than content with both of you -- and I don't care whether it matters to the rest of the world or not. You two have done much, each in his own style, to make these fora enlightening, interesting and yes - certainly entertaining.

    "For this relief, much thanks" - Hamlet, somewhere, I think.

  5. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    I'm just content that you're content, Johann. :biggrin:

Share This Page