EDMOND—Individuals who want to learn about the Bible can now do so online, as the 36-lesson Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course went live this afternoon. Bible students can enroll, study and take tests at bcc.hwacollege.org. The new website allows students to bypass the wait for receiving tests and lessons through the mail system and for submitting their test answers using the same method.
The homepage of the online Bible course states that 100,000 individuals have enrolled in the mail-in correspondence course prior to its online launch. People interested in studying the Bible can sign up for the online course regardless of whether they have previously enrolled in the mail correspondence version.
Once enrolled, students can download lessons, submit tests, view their automatically graded scores and track their progress. After the student passes a test, he or she receives the next four lessons.
“We’re hoping we can get as many people online as possible, Herbert W. Armstrong College registrar Jason Hensley said. “Even if they get their lessons in the mail, we hope they will take tests online to be scored immediately so they can get on with the course.”
Hensley said the website represents “a huge upgrade for students in the rest of the world, especially.” Bible correspondence course students living in Africa, South America and elsewhere have found that receiving and sending lessons and tests through the mail has proven to be not only time consuming but also very unreliable. International readers pay significant postage rates for sending their tests to Edmond for grading. To help students avoid this fee, pcg regional offices in Canada, the Philippines and Australia collected tests from those nations and sent them overnight to Edmond for grading and processing. But compared to the online course, even that method was a very inefficient process, Hensley said.
Instead of waiting months to receive four lessons and a test in the mail, paying to ship the completed test, and starting the wait all over again, Bible course students can now log in to the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course website and progress through the lessons and tests much more quickly. Hensley said that the site will also prevent stagnation, which can result in enrollees quitting the course.
The website was conceived eight years ago, but underwent two long delays in the process. After the pcg’s information services department completed the mammoth task of rolling out a new contact management system, Cedar, in May, programmers, graphic designers and writers continued the online Bible course project in earnest.
The pcg won the copyright to the correspondence course’s predecessor, the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, in 2003. “When you look at Herbert W. Armstrong’s work, it’s like a pyramid,” pcg Pastor General Gerald Flurry said. “The Bible correspondence course is at the foundation, booklets and articles are on top of that, and Mystery of the Ages is the capstone.”
The launch date for the course website came exactly 27 years after the Philadelphia Church of God began. “It’s a fabulous breakthrough for us,” Mr. Flurry said. “As far as a good education spiritually, what else do we have that compares to the Bible correspondence course? It’s a tool for teaching teachers and preparing them to help Jesus Christ rule the Earth.”