Technology Closes the Gap
- Jun 02, 2010
- Category: General
On Thursday evening, May 13, 2010 two students were slated to make their class presentations to the Spiritual Formations class at Northern Seminary. For one of those students, technology stepped in to make sure he was present to share this special time with those he had forged a bond with over the spring term.
Nathan Mack lives nearly 500 miles away from the campus where his classmates gathered to hear the last two presentations. Using his laptop in West Virginia and a laptop on campus, Nathan was able to appear projected on the wall in the classroom live via Skype. He also had a live webcam view of the classroom and those students with whom he was interacting. For some, it was the first time they had ever seen their distant classmate. For others it was a great reunion with a friend, including being able to see his daughter for the first time since they left the Lombard campus and moved back to West Virginia.
"Up until his presentation, Nathan had been participating via a conference phone in the classroom", explained Dwight Hawley, Executive Director of Information Technologies at Northern. "But this was a special occasion both for Nathan and in the life of this group of students. "There were issues with sound quality using the phone, but tonight, with Skype, we could actually hear the birds chirping and a train whistle in the background as Nathan joined us from the front porch, there in West Virginia. Given the fact that we were both operating wirelessly, the video quality was also quite good and allowed a closeness to the experience that belied the physical distance separating the class members. The phone made class participation possible, but for a school that considers academic and personal community to be at its core, when it came Nathan's turn to present, we wanted to take it one step further, bringing him into the classroom via the internet".
Opening yourself up to your peers in matters of ministry and theology is difficult enough. Giving a class presentation in defense of the papers you wrote and circulated is in itself an unusual experience. For soon-to-be Northern Seminary graduate Nathan Mack, it went beyond the typical classroom experience.