CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

The Design of an Online Oblate Program: Benedictine Spirituality for the Laity

Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

George K. Fornshell

Abstract

The number of people who are attracted to a life of prayer and to a more complete dedication to God is escalating. The monastic world finds an increasing number of lay people who experience support and nourishment for their spiritual life by establishing a close relationship with a monastic community. Growing participation in oblate programs (i.e., Benedictine spirituality program for the laity, Benedictine oblation) is also common throughout the country.

Advances in communications technologies and the proliferation of distance learning opportunities make it increasingly important for institutions that offer enrichment programs to provide distance learning environments that meet the educational needs of the adult learner. Online technologies are becoming the delivery systems of choice for those who are otherwise engaged during traditional contact hours. The challenge for religious institutes is to respond to this interest and to offer a more inclusive way of sharing their spirituality and religious way of life through monastic program offerings specifically designed for the laity. Historically, oblate programs have been remarkably responsive to the spiritual needs of the times and have shown elasticity and creativity in response to the needs of a particular circumstance interpreted through the Benedictine tradition.

In response to the growing interest in Benedictine monastic spirituality, this researcher, in collaboration with Sacred Heart Monastery, developed an online oblate program to provide an alternative for laity who desire or require the anytime, anywhere online alternative. The program was created using an iterative methodology that includes five main phases: analysis, design, development, evaluation, and delivery. These phases were supported with: criteria establishment, criteria validation, a product development plan, and a product validation plan. A learner-centered, non-credit bearing, online immersion program in Benedictine spirituality (i.e., Benedictine oblation) for the adult was developed, tested, and validated. The results of the study are generalizable to like populations (i .e., adults who possess computer literacy skills) that are looking for immersion programs in spirituality, humanities, or liberal arts. Recommendations for further research are provided.

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