Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Online Spiritual Formation [?]

While the origins of the internet reach back to the 1960s, I was in college when it came of age (mid 90s).  Life was different back then.  Computers on campus were in labs, not dorm rooms (or laps), and there was typically a time limit posted on bulky, green-screen computer monitors that stated how long you could "surf online" if someone was waiting to use a computer for classwork.  It's amazing how different campus feels only 15 years later...

Today, our students live online.  And if we're not finding ways to effectively reach  them -- in that place -- than we may be missing out!

All of the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are important tools for us to integrate into our work with college students -- no doubt! -- but what if we could do more?  
What if we could actually help students to grow spiritually in their virtual world -- connecting that virtual world, of course, to the real world in some concrete, specific and intentional ways?  What if it could also give you, as the shepherd of the flock, important information about your flock and: 
  • the ways they learn, 
  • experience God,
  • are wired (personality profiles),
  • are "progressing" or "maturing" (through regular assessment) 
would you be interested?

I had the chance to be a part of a great time of dreaming and brainstorming with the co-founders of Monvee - a fairly new online tool designed to assist and direct the spiritual formation efforts of its' users.  We're talking with them about the possibilities of using it on our campus... and how that might look... and how God might choose to use something like this to radically re/shape the collegiate experience here ( you can read about a disturbing 'Well-Curve' Trend I've noticed on our campus over the past few years) and on campuses around the world.

I'm still getting familiar with all that Monvee might be able to offer our students, but in a nutshell, it appears to offer them (and us):
  • a personal assessment including, among other things, a snapshot of where they currently find themselves spiritually,
  • a personal "plan" for their ongoing spiritual formation, which takes into consideration their personality type, preferred learning styles, available resources on and around campus, upcoming activities and opportunities on campus (a cool feature allowing churches and ministries to personalize the tool),
  • follow up assessment as months or years go by, or individuals sense a need for a change in the plan, and
  • access to statistical information that would take us days and days to compile pertaining to the spiritual 'temperature' of our campus community and specific updates on individuals.
I confess, that even as a right this, some of it sounds a little "big brother-ish," but it also seems to hold incredible potential for reaching students, and helping them grow spiritually, during some of the most formative years of their life.

What do you think?
  • Would you make use of a tool like this?  Would your students?
  • What do you think the biggest benefit might be to using something like this for your students? For you?
  • Are there any concerns to consider in utilizing a tool like this?

Thanks for joining the conversation and sharing your insight and wisdom!