Online learning: Vatican releases new rules for ecclesiastical universities

Vatican online learning

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has expanded online learning options for those who would ordinarily be unable to attend full-time classes in person.

The new rules will provide distance learning opportunities for those who could manage coursework online, such as prisoners, migrants, the homeless, monks, contemplative nuns and even busy bishops.

“By making use of distance learning, ecclesiastical faculties could broaden the academic formation they offer, to reach those who, in one way or another, are involved in evangelising activities”.

“The poor, the sick, the marginalised, migrants, itinerants, circus workers, stateless people, prisoners, people who are alone, and those who live and work on the sea or on the streets are those who should be assisted, taken care of and humanly, socially and spiritually helped,” the congregation said.

The text recognises that the evolution of digital communication techniques, since the beginning of the 2000s, has disrupted the academic culture and the methods of education and learning.

Pope Francis’ 2018 norms for ecclesiastical universities and faculties included the possibility of the Vatican approving plans of studies in which some courses could be offered through distance learning “as long as certain conditions were fulfilled as regards the students’ formation as part of a community.”

In-person instruction and formation on-site with a community are still very important. It is an absolute priority for students pursuing their foundational “first cycle” baccalaureate studies in theology or philosophy, Archbishop Angelo Zani, the congregation secretary, told Vatican News.

For that reason, distance learning will not be permitted for mandatory subjects, assignments or seminars for a baccalaureate degree, except for specific cases.

“There are many professionals who would like to acquire some theological, philosophical or anthropological formation. They are knocking on the doors of our institutions. We can’t ask them to attend like young students who are just beginning their academic journey,” the archbishop said.

Distance learning will be permitted for up to a maximum of 30% of credits of elective or optional subjects, the instruction said.

As students pursue higher studies with a licentiate, there will continue to be mandatory in-person instruction and testing.

However, there will be more flexibility in determining which coursework can be online for a maximum of 30% of total credits. “A part of” all credits needed for a doctorate can be offered online, it said.



UCA News


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,