Frequently Asked Questions About Courses

Who can take a course?

The Wilmette Institute’s courses are open to all: new Bahá’ís, longtime Bahá’ís, and members of any religion who have an interest in Bahá’í history, literature, practice and belief. Faculty are ready to answer basic questions, provide further materials on course subjects, and to discuss deeper and complex ideas. Participants are encouraged to learn from each other and to share experiences and insights. The work an individual does is determined by the personal learning plan they develop, in consultation with their mentor, and whether they have arranged to obtain college credit.

How long do the courses last?

The standard length is 7 weeks, although some courses are shorter (2-4 weeks) and some longer (8 to 10 weeks). This does not include the grace period (usually one month) which can be used to work on a project such as an essay, slide presentation or work of art.

Do I have to attend classes in Wilmette?

No, the courses are run online, via the Internet. Residents of any country who have reliable Internet access may enroll.

Do I have to be available to participate at a particular time?

No, the courses are asynchronous, meaning you can log in at any time of the day or night to study and engage in discourse with other learners.

How do the courses work?

Each course has a Welcome Unit, a series of Activity Units, and a Reflection and Application of Learning Unit.

In the Welcome Unit you will review the course content, find out how the Moodle course delivery platform works, and draft your Personal Learning Plan, in consultation with your mentor (a member of the Faculty, who will be assigned to you for the duration of the course). Moodle is the name of the special educational software on the Institute’s Learning website. You do not have to load anything on your computer to use it; it works with your internet browser. Your Personal Learning Plan will help you set and achieve personal learning goals for the course.

In the Activity Units, you’ll find resources, such as readings (which may include sacred text, scholarly papers, book chapters, and online articles), videos, PowerPoints, and audio recordings; discussion questions; and various learning activities.

In the Reflection and Application of Learning Unit you will review/assess what you have learned, and make plans for applying the learning in your daily life!

After the Reflection and Application of Learning Unit, there is a Grace Period. Learners often use the grace period to start work on a creative project or presentation to be shared in their communities and on the Institute’s website.

How much time does a course take?

Typically, five to eight hours a week, but the level of participation varies widely, depending on the needs of learners. Discussion, conversation, discourse and consultation are encouraged in the course forums, where faculty will answer questions and topics can be more fully explored. The course materials are yours to keep for ongoing study. Readings can be downloaded or printed, and courses remain open and accessible for you to revisit as often as you like for at least a year.

Are there video conferences to attend?

Video is an exciting new dimension to our system and is gradually being expanded. However, not all courses have video conferences, and for most courses participation is optional. In all cases, a recording of the video conference will be posted for viewing later.

How do the video conferences work?

The video conferencing service will send you a web link. Simply click on the link when the conference starts, and you are “in” the class. If you have a web cam and microphone, the instructor can turn them on or off; if you don’t, you can still watch, listen, and type your questions in a chat box.

Will I get a grade?

Unless you want to take the course for college credit, we do not grade participation. Normally our faculty review your learning self assessment with you, and the Institute sends you a certificate of completion.

Can I take the course for college credit?

The Wilmette Institute is not accredited, but we recently signed an “articulation agreement” with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities that allows their students to take six of our courses for credit. To receive a grade and credit, they must complete more work than the average non-credit student and complete a paper or research project during the grace period.

If you want credit, you may ask your college/university (through the faculty advisor, department head or registrar’s office) to consider letting you receive credit through them. Inform them of our articulation agreement; we can send proof and additional information to them. The Institute will make sure your course work meets the minimum requirements of your educational institution. This may mean doing more reading, special weekly posts, and a project or paper which will be assessed and graded by the faculty, and a transcript sent to the college/university. For help with this process email Dr Robert Stockman: WI@USBNC.org.

How do I pay?

By check or credit card; the details are here. We do not use PayPal.

Can I obtain a scholarship discount?

Yes; see Scholarship Discounts.

Why does the Wilmette Institute charge for its courses?

The Institute was mandated to be independent of the Baha’i funds when it was established in 1995, and to date we have covered all our expenses through tuition charges and fund raising. We have to pay staff, we provide many faculty an honorarium for their many hours of professional teaching efforts for our learners, and we have numerous software, communications, and publicity expenses, like any professional organization would.

Do you have any free courses?

We are developing courses for youth and communities that will be free or for a very small fee. We also run free Web Talks every month – live video programs with a speaker and questions from the audience. They are recorded and placed on our YouTube channel. They often relate to one of our courses and are used in them.

How do I form a Local Study Group?

See Study Alone or in a Group. A group can be formed with just two people, so couples can register as a study group. The group can be as large as 21. We encourage local Spiritual Assemblies and clusters to form groups; some Assemblies even have policies to subsidize groups. The Wilmette Institute will partner with institutions to develop special online courses for them.

On the initial course registration screen, select ‘group’ not ‘individual’ and complete all personal registration information. If you have names, and email and postal addresses of group members, add them, but you can always go back and add them later.

Pay for the group on the payment page. There is one fee to create the group and register the first member (generally, equal to the cost of an individual registration) plus a fee for each other group member (about 60% of individual fee).

You will receive an automated registration confirmation by email, with a link you can use to modify the registration/add people to your group. Send the registration confirmation to group members so they can add themselves to the group, or use the link to add them yourself.

For help on how to study as a group see the Study Group Guidelines.
Email us at WI@USBNC.org if you get stuck!

Can the Institute add me to an existing group?

It is rare that a study group already exists near you that you don’t know about, but if we are aware of one, we will tell you about it.

Can I access the readings for the course on my Ipad, or smartphone?

Yes, as far as we know, you can read everything on the Moodle Learning website on your iPad, or other kinds of readers like Kindle, Google Tablet, or your smartphone. Moodle has apps for both Apple and Android devices (See: download.moodle.org/mobile/ or visit your App Store). Many of the readings are posted as PDF files, so they can be easily downloaded to your device.