Behind all of BibleJourney’s enjoyable learning is a technologically sophisticated platform and pedagogically researched learning theories. Here are the principles that inform how we have structured the immersive, interactive experience:
Students need the right balance of guidance and independent exploration. This balance is related to the right mix of predictability and surprise. The curriculum can only accomplish its objective of understanding the “big picture” of the Bible if students move sequentially through the Bible. However, they will also be more engaged when they have as much choice as possible. We support what we call “directed discovery” with an elliptical movement forward. Each lesson will allow students to explore the In the Text, Behind the Text and In Front of the Text sections in whatever order they would like, and even lessons can be done “out of order.” However, each module is designed to lead you to the next.
The curriculum is technologically interactive. People of all ages learn better when they engage various learning styles and all their senses. Brain science is telling us more all the time about the different kinds of intelligences there are and the best ways for everyone to learn. We have a mix of written and visual content and, in some cases, you can choose to read or listen. We offer a Workbook because “journaling” your way through the Bible will help make this yourBibleJourney. God chose to be holistic in his revelation – providing not only words to speak and hear but an immersive, interactive liturgy.
The curriculum is collaborative. The social dimension is just as important for our learning to “stick.” Theorists in the field of the “sociology of knowledge” often say that knowledge is “socially constructed.” We will offer users the chance to share about their journey on all of their social media (blogging, FaceBook, Twitter, Pintrest, etc.). The student version has a learning management system that offers peer to peer as well as teacher to peer interaction. The Bible was meant to be engaged by a community of believers who accepted its terms and lived together with them. Because we believe that community is the global church, we will constantly expand the resources for In Front of the Textdiscussions so that we can hear from our brothers and sisters in every part of the world. So, when you hear “interactive” about BibleJourney, think of it in both technological and interpersonal ways. And think about BibleJourney as a constantly growing global community of engaged learners who share what they discover. Our “tribe” is part of a dynamic Bible movement.
Good learning is “situated” or “contextualized.” Abstract concepts need to make sense in terms of real life or they are difficult to retain. This is related to another phrase you may hear: “Just in time learning.” The chances of new knowledge becoming part of our long-term understanding has a lot to do with timing. If we understand that what we are learning is applicable now, and we see that link, we will have a connection that makes the learning our own. If you look at how Jesus trained his disciples, it had a rhythm of doing and discussing. He did not try to dump content into them all at once but rather created learning moments when they were ripe for truth that could at times be quite unsettling.
“Constructive learning” is related to these other principles. We retain most what we help build. When most people are asked when they learned the most, they might think of favorite teachers or subjects. But on further reflection, any time they had to teach, they had the greatest learning and the most retention themselves. Though biblical revelation doesn’t change, our understanding of it grows over time. Each student will decide how best to integrate and synthesize what they are learning in ways that are memorable and practically usable for them.
Rigor and “Proximal zone learning.” BibleJourney is enjoyable and engaging, but it is also quite challenging. No one says it is easy. We’ve all heard the saying “No pain, no gain.” A more sophisticated explanation is found in “proximal zone learning” in which learners become motivated by the gap between what they can do on their own and what they can do with the help of a coach or guide. Another phrase you’ll hear on this topic is “scaffolding.” Our guidance makes it possible to do more than you think you can, not only in terms of understanding complexity but also in terms of retention. This has a lot to do with the synthesis that scaffolding makes possible at the right time in the learning process.
Advance organizing. Each lesson begins with an introduction that is more than a summary or pre-statement of the content to come. Rather it is a well-designed conceptual ramp that prepares students for the learning. It is also a “hook” to capture the interest and curiosity of the student and explorer. Using our journey metaphor, the advance organizer is the brief orientation to the trail ahead with a look at a virtual compass and map to make sure we know where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. The orientation may be emotional and theological; it is not only intellectual.
Reflective learning. Every lesson will follow a path of discovery and insight that leads to a place of synthesis and reflection. Learning is a delicate process that can sometimes fall short of its full benefit when we rush past the reflective stage. This is the place when we stop and consider the full implications of what we have seen and heard. It is the time to savor and make choices about what we will keep as “souvenirs” and which places we might return to.
Goal orientation. Adults, like children, like to see their progress as they move toward goals and objectives. Our curriculum allows for self-guidance while moving everyone along to the end of a course, a Testament and, eventually, the whole Bible. Your guide will be like a coach (or a rabbi or shepherd), sometimes leading from in front and sometimes providing a gentle push from behind. The curriculum will help you chart your progress visually every step of the journey, keeping you engaged affectively as well as cognitively.
Critical path. BibleJourney provides the most efficient way to understand the whole Bible in its context. We have charted the sequence of steps necessary for this to take place. However, we understand that a variety of reasons will be in play as some decide to be personal explorers or academic students and whether or not they decide to make the journey through the whole Bible or parts of it. We have endeavored to map out the various trails for each of these choices and show their connection to the larger path through Scripture.
Revelation. While any curriculum should be well mapped and have a solid pedagogical foundation for its delivery, there is something obviously different about a Bible curriculum. We are providing access to divine revelation. Reflective questions will be personal not just because they are practical but because they involve God – and God speaks through Scripture. We have witnessed unexpected ways that BibleJourney has impacted the lives of those who submit to the Word of God. In fact, the program will eventually invite every user to take a before and after spiritual inventory to help them recognize the work of God in their lives. Our goal is not as much to defend the Bible or explain it as to let it loose in the lives of God’s people. “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard…” (nor adult learning theory has conceived) “…what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)