Free Stuff at Biola

The Winter 2013 issue of Biola Magazine is out (here for the website, here for the pdf), and its cover story is about the university’s new initiative to give away loads of educational content. Check out the Open Biola site to see how much they’ve managed to put online already: lectures, articles, and entire courses.

I call Open Biola a “new initiative,” but what’s new is just the university’s recent decision to use the web in a certain way, especially for distributing some of the same material that is featured in classes on campus, and for making sure a lot more people have access to our local experts. But what’s not new at all is the basic idea of making Bible and theology instruction available at no charge. That idea goes way back in Biola’s history; in fact, it’s arguably the idea that founded Biola.

To back up that claim, I’d need a couple of pages to marshal some historical evidence. Fortunately, that’s what the editors gave me in this issue: two pages on “Biola’s History of Free.” I sketch out a few of the high points in the Bible Institute’s century of freebies: from the massive publishing project of The Fundamentals to the Biola Hour on the radio. Perhaps the most shocking bit of information is that tuition itself was originally free: “Current students and parents may be surprised to learn that there was originally no charge at all for tuition at the Bible Institute. The entire business model was designed to make free instruction possible, with students paying only for the costs of delivery. Day and night classes were offered at no charge, and a correspondence school was also available “at a trifling cost.”

 Click on through to either the easy-to-access web version of the story, or to the pdf of the cover story which preserves the lovely retro typography and layout of the print edition.


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