COVID19 forced the closure of the Pacific Theological College late March coinciding with the end of the Semester 1A.
However, the start of Semester 1B revolutionised the mode of study from face to face to Moodle, an eLearning platform and through Zoom, a video conferencing tool for efficient remote virtual connections. This allows students to continue with their lessons from their homes.
Particular spaces within the College, like the boardroom and some classrooms have been fitted with these new technology that help maintain rules of social distancing and the spread of COVID19.
Acting Academic Dean Dr. Darell Cosden said he is proud of the way the College and PTC Community have responded, changed and learnt from the COVID19 experience.
‘From senior leadership, to faculty, to students and workers, spouses and children, all have shown what we can do when we work together thinking and acting in creative ways, ‘ said Dr. Cosden.
‘This pride is especially pertinent with respect to the academic functioning of the college. ‘
‘With very little time to respond, faculty have done an amazing and stellar job of converting all their courses, teaching styles, seminar delivery and the like to an online format for the semester 1b.’
‘Students likewise have risen to the occasion to appropriate new ways of learning.
We were all nervous at the start. New and unproven technology that most of us have never used can be quite frightening, and if not implemented properly, can be a distraction and hinder learning. Yet, everyone stepped up. ‘
The leadership took immediate steps to upgrade and put into place the required technological learning infrastructure for learning – from upgraded internet, to cameras, speakers and microphones for internet video conferencing (Zoom). Training and experimentation followed by faculty and students,’ he added.
Dr. Cosden said despite having little to no knowledge of the new learning technologies, faculty and students bravely persisted and learnt what needed learning.
‘Most had never used the online educational learning and organisational platform Moodle prior to this crisis,’ he said.
‘This presented us with quite a time pressured learning curve. Yet teaching faculty who had used the platform in the past stepped forward and designed and delivered training for faculty colleagues and students – all on a moment’s notice.’
‘Courses, seminars, lectures and supervisions have continued mostly on schedule and adjustments made to improve the experience as we have progressed.
‘Likewise, using Zoom for online video conferencing, faculty have been able to meet personally with students, to offer live or recorded instruction posted on Moodle.’
‘We have even managed to carry on academic committee work with Zoom, in one case bringing faculty together both on campus and those stranded abroad in Europe due to travel restrictions. None of this has been easy.’
‘There have been setbacks along the way, but we have stepped up together and showed that we can change, learn and grow.’
‘As we position ourselves for the future, reimagining the nature, purpose and delivery of theological education in the Pacific within a changing global environment, this negative and horrible virus has been an occasion to show us that God does indeed work, even within tragedy, to bring new life and hope.
‘We will all be better people for how we have responded during this crisis.’
Safety measures have also been instituted in the libraries to ensure social distancing and hygiene.
The College also setup a COVID19 Committee to oversee all matters related to the security of the College community and to adhere to national policies and measures.
These include restrictions on gatherings, lockdown of the College preventing unnecessary visitors into the compound, restrictions as well on unnecessary travels out of PTC, restrictions on social gatherings and adherence to curfew hours.
On Friday’s, the Eucharist is offered over several hours, ensuring partakers are not crowded in the chapel but go in one at a time.
Similarly, College events are strictly limited to less than 20 persons abiding with national requirements.
The Institute for Mission and Research based at the College is also making arrangements for its Capacity Building Courses to be offered online.
These courses are usually offered face to face through workshops in regional countries but international travel bans and lockdowns have necessitated online learning.
The COVID19 Committee meets regularly to review measures.