For many of us, the last few months have required a crash course in communication technology. Pre-Covid we might have vaguely heard of Skype and Zoom, but that's about it.
Now, though, church services, Bible studies, prayer meetings and socials are all online. We're getting better at using the tech – and the techies are better at creating it, too.
Bible Society is no exception. During the summer we made our flagship programme The Bible Course available online, and thousands of people took part. Since then, we've re-designed the experience around the same content, making it much, much easier to use.
It's not necessarily anyone's fault (though of course it might be). The Bible Course is based on videos, and one of the problems with sharing videos online is that it doesn't always work, particularly if the host has a bad connection; they just freeze.
Well, OK: sometimes the host leaves the sound off, or shares the wrong screen, or a guest might be unmuted and doesn't know it, or – well, we've all been there. It's stressful for the host and frustrating for the guests. So one change we've made is that everyone gets a link to the video that they access directly, and it should work for everybody with no problems at all.
The actual Bible Course content is the same, but the website also has links straight to Bible passages, devotional reflections and other additional material. You can even subscribe to get the readings emailed to you each day – and if you sign up for an account you can get to all this whenever you like.
It depends! If you're a course leader, you'll have bought the course and got login details. In the Leader's area you'll find a how-to video with tips on how to run the course. There are promo images so you can publicise it on Facebook and Twitter. You'll be able to preview the sessions and download them if you want, and order course manuals. You can also create a link to the sessions that you can send to other participants, inviting them to watch on Zoom, Skype or whatever platform you choose – we really do try to do most of the work for you.
Click the link the leader sends and you'll get to the Participants' area of the website. While you're in your Zoom or Skype call you might have prayers or a catch-up, but then you'll be invited to leave and click on the link to the video on The Bible Course website. After you've watch it you'll be sent back to the group call where you can talk about the discussion questions; then there's another video; then it's back to the group where the leader can round things off. If you also choose to register as a participant, you'll be able to come back at any time and watch the videos and get access to the other content (otherwise the link expires after 7 days).
Course leaders get a printed manual thrown in, but you're welcome to buy one if you wish.
Don't be suspicious! This will work really well. We hope you enjoy the course – it's a brilliant way of understanding the big story of the Bible, and of learning from each other too.