Horizon 8.0 offers a new concept to bible education
This fall Horizon College & Seminary will offer a brand new style of educational philosophy and curriculum known as competency-based education.
President Jeromey Martini says competency-based education is not the norm for Christian higher education.
“We haven’t found anything like this anywhere else in Canada and possibly in the United States, either.”
Competency-based education is a model that focuses on demonstrated outcomes. It assesses how students are able to demonstrate and apply what they have learned.
“Traditional education focuses on the completion of required credit hours — time in seats,” Martini says. “We want to look at demonstrated competency. In the old model, time is fixed and learning is variable; in competency-based education, time is variable and learning is fixed.”
“This is a big shift for us,” he says. “In talking to our alumni and constituents, and people in professional ministry situations who attended bible school, many speak of having a great time, making good friends and growing personally and spiritually. But they admit that when they entered their vocation, they lacked the skills they needed to do the work required. Their Christian education had not prepared them for that.”
“The competency-based model is not something we’re inventing,” he adds. “It exists in the medical and dental professions, in business, and in much of industry. However, we’re the first we know of to utilize it in our particular stream.”
The new program has forced the school to rethink its tools for assessment. Instead of using essays and exams to assess students’ capability, they will now be required to demonstrate their understanding by how they can put their learning into practice.
“Papers don’t cut it anymore,” Martini says, “even with something as theoretical as doctrine and theology. Students won’t be required to write a paper. Instead, they will have to demonstrate their understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, for instance, by explaining it to a group of youth, or a congregation. Can they communicate their learning accurately without compromising their higher level of learning?”
The Horizon 8.0 curriculum will encompass seven core competency streams. When students graduate, the aim is for them to be contextually aware, spiritually mature, have leadership and administrative capabilities, be biblically and theologically sound, skilled in communicating, be a disciple maker, and a ministry developer.
Horizon College & Seminary offers up to four years of training with several break-off points. During that time a portfolio will be developed for each student, with the portfolio growing with each year of study. Martini says the portfolio creates a descriptive assessment of the student’s capability and their growth in areas of self-awareness.
“The portfolio demonstrates the student’s achieved competency,” he says. “It is valuable not only for the person, but for their prospective employer, as well.”
Incorporated, as well, will be the results of such tools as Strengthsfinder and Myers-Briggs which help to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
The new program’s name, Horizon 8.0, references the institution’s 80th anniversary this year. It will be officially launched in September, though the school has already been doing some of it in small ways.
Martini says all bible schools and seminaries are at a crucial point. “Most realize they have to make changes to survive. Some are becoming liberal arts institutions; others are going back to their bible school roots. Our mission is to produce the very best Christian leaders we can. We want to prepare Christian leaders not only for professional ministry, but give leadership skills to Christians going into the market place so they can be leaders in whatever area they’re entering.”
He says for the new program to be successful, Horizon will need participation in and from local churches, and Christian leaders like pastors, youth pastors, Christian workers, Christian educators and business leaders. “All will give voice to helping us speak to the formation of the program. They will help us integrate back into the local church by informing us of the church’s needs.”
Horizon College & Seminary will continue to be a residential institution, but with an increasing online presence.
“We welcome second career people, and invite those in their 30s, 40s and 50s to enrol — anyone who has a call from God on their life to be a better Christian leader in their work environment, or who wants to go into professional Christian ministry.”
Horizon partners with Providence Seminary in Manitoba to offer graduate level studies, including a graduate certificate in leadership program which involves six online courses the candidate can do without interrupting their existing work schedule.
Learn more about the Horizon 8.0 program at www. horizon.edu. The website is also a ticket source for Horizon’s gala fundraiser to be held on Friday, May 29, at the Sheraton. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 306-374-6655.
Jeromey Martini, president of Horizon College & Seminary.