Safe Sanctuaries: Online Learning Environments

The Learning Covenant

It is especially important in an online learning environment to explicitly state the boundaries so that both the participants and the facilitator are in clear agreement about expectations and responsibilities. The Learning Covenant is a useful component for establishing “best practices” in any learning community, but it is a critical one in the on-line learning environment.  Covenant is the central relationship through which Christians live.  Through our baptisms, we are brought into Covenant with Jesus and with one another.The Learning Covenant helps us understand and explicitly name our responsibilities to one another and it continually reminds us of our call to be in respectful relationship with God and with one another.

It is best to co-create the Learning Covenant as the first part of the work you do together with your online participants. As you review the list below of the some topics to be covered in the Learning Covenant, think about what additional items you might want to include for such a Covenant in your congregation.

This list is not all-inclusive, but is a starting point for a discussion within the learning community you will create in your own congregation.

Suggested topics to be addressed in Learning Covenant:

  • Course goals.
  • Course time line.
  • Learner responsibilities and commitments to assignments/discussion.
  • Facilitator/teacher responsibilities and time lines for response/course adjustment.
  • Confidentiality – what can be shared with others and what cannot be shared outside the course?
  • Legal and ethical requirements – what MUST be reported to church and/or secular authorities.
  • Appropriate language.
  • How respectful disagreement will take place.