Cultivating Character and Online Learning
Any project of character formation is dynamic; it requires attention to the character traits of both teachers and learners.
Accordingly, when we ask about the virtues of online teachers, we are interested in not only the particular character traits that enable educators to do their work with excellence; we are also concerned with how they might create the conditions in which virtues might be formed in their students.
I. What are the virtues?
A first step is knowing what the virtues are. The following resources provide introductions to the virtues in the Christian moral life.
- What is a virtue?
- N.T. Wright's “Paul and Christian Character,” (video)
- C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity
- Josef Pieper's A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart
- N.T. Wright's After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
- The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
II. What are the virtues of an effective online instructor?
The virtues of a good teacher are too many to list here. Moreover, the virtues of an online teacher are not wholly different than the virtues of a teacher in a classroom. Still, because the online environment necessitates more student-centered modes of instruction, online teaching creates opportunities for instructors to rethink what virtues make a teacher excellent online.
- Elizabeth Seebach and Lori Charron's “Envisioning a Lasallian Online Pedagogy: Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher in a Digital Environment.”
- Sylvia van de Bunt-Kokhuis and Nabil Sultan’s “Servant-Leadership: The Online Way! E-Learning Where Community Building Is Key.”
III. What are ways to cultivate character online?
Forming Christian character online requires more than simply adding explicitly Christian elements to a course. If faith is to animate online learning, instructors must think intentionally about how it informs the course experience as a whole, including course goals and objectives, course content, pedagogical practices, and the educational environment itself.
Several Baylor colleagues, through Baylor’s Character Across the Curriculum initiative, reflected on their own attempts to form character online. Links to videos with their lessons learned and practical tips can be found below.
Kelly Jo Hollingsworth, Music Education
Richard Jordan, Political Science
Ian Gravagne, Electrical Engineering
- Aliel Cunningham’s "Envisioning Christian Presence and Practice in Online Teaching Contexts"
- Sample Baylor course syllabi , with virtue formation sections highlighted