Online Teaching and Learning Certificate

Earn a professional certificate in online teaching in as little as five months, while learning from nationally known leaders in online theological instruction.

United’s Online Teaching and Learning Certificate (OTLC) prepares theological instructors and administrators to begin teaching in a virtual environment. Each OTLC course will guide you through the development of an element needed for a ready-to-use course site. Upon completion of the professional certificate program, you will have the ability to confidently design, develop and lead an online seminary course.

  • Experience online theological education as modeled by credible theological instructors
  • See best practices in online education put into action through the OTLC’s online curriculum
  • Learn to adapt face-to-face courses to the online environment
  • Develop creative learning activities that stimulate student engagement
  • Create an online course, complete with syllabus and two weeks of online activities


Preparing for Online Theological Education

Through 5 courses and a final project, you will receive a complete overview of the course design process for teaching in an online Learning Management System (LMS). Courses are 4 weeks each and will require about 3-6 hours a week to complete. Students are encouraged to take all of the courses in one term, but it is possible to spread out courses across additional terms. Single courses may be taken individually, if a certificate is not desired. Each course will award 2 CEUs.


OTLC Instructors

Instructors for the certification program are associated with member schools of The Association of Theological Schools. All instructors have degrees in educational or theological fields, with deep experience in distance learning. Many have taught with the Wabash Center or in other professional development settings.



Individual Courses: $400 each
Certificate Package (Courses 1-5): $1,850 (a $150 discount)
Group Rate (4+ participants): $1,500

For group rate approval, please contact Phyllis Ennist at 937.529.2264 or


2019 Course Schedule

Courses in the certificate are offered twice a year, beginning in January or July and may be completed in 5 months. Courses begin fully online for our next session on the following dates.


Description | This course will introduce the history, research and merits of online theological learning along with the fundamental components necessary to teach online successfully. The student will begin to learn the elements of student centered pedagogical/andragogical best practices as applied to course planning, and development strategies within a course Learning Management Software (LMS) environment.

Instructor | Dr. Richard Nysse is a Professor of Old Testament and Associate Dean for Learning Systems and Technology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He has acquired a large of amount of experience in distance learning over the past decade.

Articles he has written include:

“Online Education: An Asset in a Period of Educational Change,” in Practical Wisdom, Malcolm L. Warford, ed. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

“Technology and the Classroom: Inevitable and Better.” Word & World (1998) In addition to text materials

Regular contributions to online publications include:

Working Preacher

Enter the Bible


FEBRUARY 4 – MARCH 1, 2019

Description | This course will define proven learning strategies using a systemic learning approach to course development. Learning theories will be discussed to utilize the best strengths of online delivery and provide a foundation for course structure.

Instructor | Johnathan D. Messer is an academic technology consultant for the University of Richmond and a PhD student at the College of William and Mary studying Curriculum and Educational Technology. He has also created a magazine to help families learn about Baptist heritage.


MARCH 4-29, 2019

Description | This course will demonstrate practical methods of formative and summative assessment in online theological course development. Exploration will be made using core assessment criteria to assess essay writing, collaborative and peer review and improved student performance through feedback and critical reflection.

Instructor | Phyllis Ennist is Associate Dean of Distance Education at United Theological Seminary, where she enjoys the stimulation of ministry- and academic-oriented colleagues, students who are sacrificially committed to the Church, and staff who work hard to do their best. Ms. Ennist has worked in Distance Learning for about 14 years. She has an associate degree in web design, bachelor’s degree in digital communication and a master’s degree in education. At United, she not only works closely with the reduced residency master’s program, which serves about 230 students, and Doctor of Ministry program, with about 275 students, but also serves on the assessment committee.


APRIL 1-26, 2019

Description | Online community building is an effective and necessary strategy for the seminary virtual classroom. In this course different methods of community engagement will be reviewed. Virtual instructors will explore and rethink methods of interpersonal relationships as displayed in asynchronous modalities of engagement. How to manage learning communities and how to develop depth in spiritual communities that promotes leadership and spiritual formation will be analyzed.

Instructor | Dr. Ronald Hannaford has served as a senior pastor of a local church in Australia for 12 years, as the Director of Distance Learning at Fuller Theological Seminary for distance learning and online programs for 7 years, and since 2009 has established a new Distance Learning department at Biola University serving Biola’s 7 schools, including Talbot School of Theology, as they launch offerings in online and hybrid classes and programs. Dr. Hannaford ensures the learning outcomes for the university’s degree and certificate programs including spiritual formation are accomplished.


APRIL 29 – MAY 24, 2019

Description | The course will review pedagogies and learning strategies often used in online environments for theological education to engage students in interactive and student-centered learning. Assignment and lesson examples (online cases studies, scavenger hunts and group projects etc.) will be discussed that work well in online classrooms influenced by new digital social media practices familiar to most students through engagement with Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

Instructor | Ben Wyatt is currently the Director of IT and Online Learning at Lexington Theological Seminary (LTS) in Lexington, Kentucky. He was hired by LTS to transition their face-to-face program to an online program in 2010. He currently assists 16 adjunct instructors in developing their online courses and supports a student body of 135 students.

Prior to being hired at LTS, Ben worked as an Instructional Technology Consultant at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). In this position he collaborated with university faculty and staff to improve student learning through the use of technology. He facilitated workshops and presentations on technology-enhanced learning for the CTL and consulted with members of the university community about best practices when working with technology.

Ben has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Indiana University in Media Arts and Science (New Media) and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, also from IU. From 2002 to 2009, he worked for the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, Indiana, as their Multimedia Specialist. At College Park Elementary School, he integrated technology into the curriculum, taught after-school technology clubs, and managed day-to-day procedures in the media center.

Ben’s research interest is in the field of emerging technology and how it can be used to promote “lifelong learning” in higher education.

Final project due June 21, 2019.

  • "I started the Online Teaching and Learning Certificate having never taught or been taught through an online program. I was skeptical; could an online course really impact someone’s academic, personal and spiritual formation? United’s Online Teaching and Learning Certificate both convinced me that it could and showed me how.… I finished the course confident in my ability to design an online Certificate in Disability Ministry, and would recommend the OTLC to anyone, regardless of previous experience or technological prowess."

    Kirsty Jones
    Kirsty Jones 2017 OTLC Participant
  • "The OTLC program equipped me with resources to deepen my pedagogical reflection, prodded my exploration of online teaching in a fruitful direction and provided ample opportunity to experiment in the online classroom with valuable guidance and feedback. I am confident my participation saved me years of labor and confusion. My cohort of students was supportive and insightful, the faculty was exemplary and innovative and the interface was intuitive. All along I received direct, personalized guidance on how to develop classes in my field."

    Justus Hunter
    Justus Hunter United faculty member and 2015 OTLC participant

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