Media Opportunities in the Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary
1. In what classes can students learn about or practice video production?
BLTS has a few classes in which we do production work. PT502 Mission Application: Evangelism, taught by Prof. Nicholas Proksch, has a video production segment in which seminarians create a promotional or informational video, targeted at a specific demographic, and take it from inception through post production. PT522 Communication: Mass Media in the Church's Mission takes students through a variety of media and discusses both theory and best practices for their use. PT525 Communication: Seminars in Heuristics brings in special guest speakers to address even more specific topics concerning camerawork, videography, editing, fundraising, and a variety of other topics that make up particular components of video production.
2. In what classes can students learn about or practice social media communication?
Social Media has become a vital avenue for fostering and maintaining relationships, as well as providing and receiving information. Of course, this opportunity comes with its own challenges, threats, and sacrifices, and so proper usage of social media is an important part of several classes, including PT502 Evangelism, PT521 Communication: A Pastor's Interpersonal Relationships, PT525 Heuristics, PT523 Communication: Contemporary Communication Theory, and PT522 Mass Media.
3. In what classes can students experience virtual or augmented reality?
At BLTS we use a VR component to assist with homiletical training. The software analyzes pitch & volume modulation, as well as eye contact with a virtual audience. It can gauge how much time a user spent looking at notes and identify problem areas of the sermon presentation. While the VR classroom is available to students at all levels, it represents an actual component of instruction among the Junior level (first year) seminarians. PT301 & 302 First Year Homiletics
4. In what classes do students consider the impact of social media on their lives?
This would be the same answer as question 2 above.
5. In what classes do students consider the impact of movies and television on their lives?
PT525 Communication: Mass Media in the Church's Mission has a strong focus on how modern media impact audiences, their expectations, and their presuppositions. Opportunities and concerns are also explored as mass media presentations are considered.
6. In what classes do students consider the role of video games in their lives?
Same answer as previous question 5.
7. Are there classes in which students practice creative writing? Do they practice writing for the screen?
In PT502 Evangelism students prepare a script on a topic of their choosing. The final film is then submitted to undergraduate Intro to Mass Media students for focus group feedback, which the seminarians then implement.
8. Are there classes in which students study or compose music for the screen (such as for movies, video games)?
In PT508 Lutheran Hymnody is studied, and in PT525 Mass Media the use of pre-licensed music for in-house presentations is explored. However neither of these would rise to the level of composition for screen.
9. Are there extra- or co-curricular activities in which any of the above can occur?
BLTS has very few extra-curriculars.
10. The most important question: In which of the above can students consider making use of these media for Gospel outreach? How is this done at your school?
BLTS classes in communication, despite having a strong theoretical basis, are focused on practical implementation of media across a variety of platforms. The use of mass media underscores a critical truth: the Word of God is powerful. It is the message of the gospel, not the medium through which it is communicated, that ultimately revitalizes a dead spirit. The use of mass media to accomplish the Great Commission is therefore a central focus, as each medium reaches new audiences with new opportunities and new challenges. Beyond this, each medium influences those who use it in a particular way, warranting consideration from our pastors as they engage in constructing messages intended for large groups online or elsewhere. Accordingly, BLTS seminarians produce actual pieces of mass media, taking them all the way to a completed form. They are further given instruction in how to disseminate that information through a variety of channels. This is done not with the expectation that they will necessarily continue to produce across every medium, but that they will be knowledgeable in what media their particular congregations should be employing, what will be required to produce for those media, and how to judge a high-quality product for that medium.
11. Any future plans in this regard?
While these plans are tenuous, the next anticipated communication revolution will be Mixed Reality, using wearables and metaverse technology (not necessarily the kind through Facebook) to introduce digital elements into the real world. This presents many interesting opportunities alongside the questions that it simultaneously raises. We hope to be early explorers of this new medium MR.
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