Speakers and administrators rose to the challenge to provide an equally spiritual experience over the internet as BYU Education Week moved to an online format this year.
“The medium may change but the heart of the message is the same,” said BYU President Kevin J Worthen in the President’s Welcome address.
Education Week typically offers more than 1,000 classes on subjects like education, religion, marriage and family, and genealogy, but due to the pandemic, it moved to an online video format with 55 virtual lectures. The videos are available from Oct. 7 to Mar. 31, 2021 to those who register. Viewers can access the lectures on the Education Week website for $49.
BYU Continuing Education said in a press release that while canceling the in-person experience was disappointing, the online format creates an exciting opportunity to reach a worldwide audience.
“We’ve all been instructed by our Church and university leaders to look for the good that comes from difficult circumstances, and offering the online classes is an example of something good that came about faster because of the current conditions,” program administrator Bruce Payne said.
Payne said the preparations for Education Week required many behind-the-scenes efforts to finish the required video-editing, copyright permissions, transcriptions and other tasks. He said presenters came to the Continuing Education studios over a four-week period to record their lectures.
“(Preparing the program) proved to be time-consuming but very rewarding when we saw the end product,” Payne said.
Education Week presenter Tyler J. Griffin, a professor in the Religious Education department, said the Holy Ghost isn’t limited by technological adjustments.
“It is definitely strange to enter a studio and speak to a camera without any kind of audience feedback or reaction,” Griffin said. “Truth is still truth, and the inspiration to speak and learn by the Spirit can still operate fully in this adapted setting.”
Presenter John Hilton III, whose lecture is titled “Finding Peace through Extending Mercy to Ourselves and Others,” said that while he misses the energy and personal connections that come from presenting live, he loves being able to watch the classes with his wife at home instead of having to rush from one class to the next.
“We’ll actually probably wind up watching more classes online than we would have in person!” Hilton said. “As with many things, the pandemic is giving us the opportunity to do things differently. I’m excited to see what happens in the future.”
BYU ancient scripture professor Brad Wilcox said the willingness of individuals to participate in Education Week when they can’t come to campus shows the crucial role of education in Church doctrine, culture and families. “It says a lot about how devoted Latter-day Saints are to education. For us, an education is not just about making a living, but making a life—including an eternal life.”