TCC08: What can Educators Learn from Online Religious Communities?

This is another liveblogged post from the TCC 2008 conference.

Presented by Scot Headley, Amy Dee, Sue Phillips, Tricia Meyer, Jeanette Eggert

Doctoral students at George Fox University

Based on seminar where doctoral students created online community projects

Used a wiki for the course–most content went through the wiki, not through Moodle.

The seminar raised a question about whether online religious communities could be a model for online educational experiences.

Amy Dee: Wiki-Mania

  • Used wiki for communication with a church small group
  • People were used to checking email, not the wiki

Missed most of her presentation due to a phone call

Tricia Meyer

  • Moodle–Used Moodlerooms
  • Invited 10 students (10th grade) and 5 guest hosts (employees of school/church)


  • Idea received positively by students
  • Students did thoughtful posts
  • High quality information from guest hosts
  • Good feedback from students


  • 50-60% involvement
  • Minimal interaction with each other–students responded to adults but not each other
  • No evidence of learning from others’ posts
  • Technical problems


  • Students don’t have much time but they like it
  • Forum is good for giving students time and space to think carefully and express themselves
  • Didn’t really create a sense of community

Sue Phillips

  • Used MySpace & a wiki
  • Chose MySpace b/c lots of existing religious tools available (e.g., Bible verse of the day)
  • Also explored specifically Christian sites, but secular sites like MySpace may offer better options

Jeanette Eggert

She had not used a chat room, IM, Facebook, or MySpace before joining a site called

Joined a group that did live chat

She’s still active in the group even after her class assignment

  • Chat has structure
  • People assigned as a leader and an “usher”–one person is designated to welcome newcomers through a private message and help them get started
  • Everyone can contribute
  • 30 minute chat, 2X a day
  • Fellowship time before and after official time

Feels a sense of community with the group–technology has connected her with others. Provided opportunity for isolated individuals to experience community,

For education

  • It’s hard to do synchronous and get everyone there at the same time
  • A larger total population may give you enough people
  • Chat does add pressure for spelling and typing, even when the group is accepting

Scot Headley: Quaker Meeting in Second Life

  • Second Life focused his attention–unprogrammed worship requires that focus, not multitasking
  • Respect for people behind the avatar
  • Consensus decision making
  • Encouragement and accountability online
  • Learned about philosophical and practical aspects of online practice


Most people in the online communities were part of other face-to-face Christian communities

Audio might be better for people who have trouble typing

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