“Extension” Courses: New Developments for 2022

Dec 30, 2021

by Robert Stockman & Nicola Daniels

Extension courses

As the Wilmette Institute continues to increase the number of courses it is able to offer for credit through the Graduate Theological Union, it has been rethinking the relationship between those courses and the courses we offer to everyone through our own online course delivery platform. The latter have been called both “noncredit” courses and “community learning” courses, but we have now decided to designate them as “extension” courses. Accredited institutions of higher education often have extension programs where they offer noncredit courses to the greater community around them. Some of the courses are as rigorous as their accredited courses; others might be simplified versions of credit courses, or brand new courses designed to serve the non-university audience. Our noncredit “extension” courses fall in all three categories, plus a fourth category worth highlighting; “incubator” courses that were first created as noncredit courses and, as they are improved, become new “credit” courses.

Soon you will see this change of terminology on our website.

Certificates of Completion 

All Wilmette Institute courses are open to all people who can access the online courses and materials. Students are welcome to engage with the course to the extent they wish, as all levels of engagement are welcome. However, in 2022, if an extension student would like to obtain a Certificate of Completion for their course, they will need to complete a subset of activities selected by their instructor. The completion of these activities will be one way the Institute can tell that students are engaged in the course, and learning.

In short, if students complete the activities chosen by the instructor, they will receive a Course Completion Certificate. Other assigned activities are important, but do not count towards the certificate. For example, in a unit the instructor may assign a reading, a video to watch, and participation in a forum to discuss the reading and the video. Then the instructor may require participation in the forum.

Students will be able to see what activities will be tracked as part of the course completion certificate. There will be a block on the right column in Moodle called “Course completion status”. By clicking on “View course report” the student will see the required activities and the status of each.

Student support

The Wilmette Institute does not award grades in its extension courses. If an activity is marked as complete, this is not a grade by any means. It is simply a reflection of the student’s engagement in the course. If an activity is marked incomplete, the instructor may contact the student privately to offer support.

Engagement or completion is determined independent of any special circumstances. If a student is unable to complete an activity/assignment due to aggravating circumstances, they should communicate the circumstances to the instructor and arrange to make up the assignment.

Course surveys and grace period

In addition to the specific assignments chosen by the instructor, completion of the course also requires filling out two participant surveys at the end of the course. These surveys have been updated for 2022, and are anonymous unless the student wishes to be identified, which they can do in the final question. The Wilmette Institute will issue the Certificate of Completion at the end of the grace period, so these elements should be completed before then.

Note that for 2022 and going forward, the grace period will be two weeks instead of one month. 

Up Next...