If you have never taken an online course before, it is important to understand that they are run differently from face-to face classes. Online MALS classes do not meet at a specific time when everyone is online together. So you are able to be fully involved in the class no matter what your schedule is. Online MALS classes try to capture what goes on in a traditional graduate MALS seminar, in which the professor’s role focuses more on facilitating discussion among the students than giving lectures. So in online MALS classes you will not be watching videos of a professor giving a lecture.
The typical online MALS class has a similar structure each week. At the beginning of the week, let’s say Sunday, students will log on to the course website and find out the reading assignments for that week. (You can also see the schedule for the whole semester, if you want to read ahead.) They will also read the introductory material prepared by the professor about the topic for the week, possibly including additional images, videos, or powerpoint to consider. The professor will give information about issues to pay attention to as you do the readings, and the professor will make a writing assignment regarding the readings. Typically, students would be told to do the reading and complete a 500-word response by Wednesday night. In addition, they will usually be asked to read each others’ responses and to write shorter reactions to two of the student essays by Saturday. There may also be informal discussion among the students in the class and with the professor. Then the cycle begins again for the next week.
The goal in all MALS classes is for you to develop skills in clear thinking and articulate, well-organized writing about academic topics and issues. A term project is almost always assigned to help you practice these skills.
Online courses are not easier than regular courses and most students report that they require about the same amount of time and effort as regular classes.