High Tech Greek: Seminarians Absorb Language in Skype Classroom
21 March 2012 • Faculty News • By Deborah (Malacky) Belonick
Every Wednesday morning at St. Vladimir's, New Testament Greek becomes a high tech enterprise, as Timothy Clark, our faculty member who lives in Portland, Oregon, connects via Skype to his students on our campus in Yonkers, New York. Clark holds the position of Lecturer in Old Testament at the seminary.
So, how does it feel to get up at 6:15 a.m. Pacific Time to teach a Biblical Language class at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time?
"I have to admit that from the perspective that the camera angle gives me—I'm posted a few feet above and away from the seminar table—I feel a bit like the floating green head from the Wizard of Oz, though I don't think that my students shake and tremble before me as much as they should!" Professor Clark joked.
"It's taken some time to get used to it," he continued, "but there's still plenty of room for interaction and engagement with the class. The Greek class has always had a lot of back-and-forth between me and the students, since the only way to really get into the nuts and bolts of a language is to dive with them into the nuances of grammar, syntax, and style, and Skype lets me continue to do that," he noted.
"We've been experimenting with camera angles and microphone placements, and we seem to have gotten to a place where the students and I can speak easily with each other and explore the text in ways that are beneficial in advancing both their language knowledge and their understanding of some of the special qualities of New Testament literature. It's enjoyable to be so far away but still be able to teach New Testament within the shared assumptions of SVOTS's Orthodox context," he concluded.
The seminary continues to explore the possibilities of distance-learning, via webinars, ITunes University, and Skype Classrooms, as well as a new D.Min. program, designed by our recently hired Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric, Fr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, to be a hybrid distance-residential learning program.