Religion professor helps develop online Bible study tool
Chris Hulshof, assistant professor and department chair in Liberty University’s School of Religion, recently worked with LifeWay Christian Resources to develop its myWORDsearch Bible software using his Bible 350 (Inductive Bible Study Methods) courses for testing.
WORDsearch offers over 4,500 online Bibles and books for Bible study. Hulshof was asked to partner with the company’s development team at its headquarters in Austin, Texas, last summer to customize the program for inductive bible study courses and to test the software's functionality.
The software was tested by Liberty students during a summer intensive course and throughout the Fall 2014 semester. The program gave Bible 350 students access to their textbooks through the tool’s digital package option and also to more free study materials.
“This offered us the opportunity to develop and tailor something very specifically to our class, which was kind of unheard of in the field of Bible software,” Hulshof said. “It changes how you can teach in a classroom. There are more opportunities for collaborative learning, both between students and between the professor and students. Just log into the website, and all your material is right there.”
For example, a professor can have student groups study different aspects of a passage in depth using the software during a class. The professor can then project the passage on a screen and mark student observations and comments. These markups can be saved and shared for future study.
Throughout the fall semester, Hulshof and his students provided feedback to myWORDsearch Bible programmers. WORDsearch team members also visited Liberty several times throughout the semester to field responses and answer questions directly.
According to Hulshof, the additional materials helped students be more effective in both their Bible study and their academic research.
“From a teaching perspective, I’ve seen a definite improvement in the quality of the material that students are able to produce,” Hulshof said.
Students also found that the software improved their classroom performance.
“I feel like I have grown spiritually from the help of this tool this semester, more than I have in my lifetime,” said senior Shelby Burton. “I didn’t realize how impactful resources like this could be.”
Hulshof and other School of Religion staff members are beginning to search for other opportunities to utilize software that can be created for both Liberty students and the general public to aid in their study of the Bible.
The myWORDsearch Bible program is available online to the public at www.myWSB.com. The basic interactive Bible study content is free, with additional scholarly resources available for purchase.