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About Online Courses

What Does an Online Classroom Look Like?

No two online classrooms are identical. As in face-to-face classes, each instructor organizes course content differently. Nevertheless, most Canvas classrooms share similar basic layouts. 

image of course's home page

The course is organized into the following features which are visible at every point:

  • Home: this is the home page where you land when you access your course
  • Syllabus: here you can view your syllabus, and due dates under Course Summary
  • Grades: this is the area to check out your progress
  • Start Here - in the home page: read this module before you move on to the Week 1 module. You’ll find important information about your course, textbook and materials, and your first day assignment - which has to be completed by the end of the first day.

Visit the Learning Online Doc: a collection of tutorials and resources about Canvas, and more.

How Do Online Courses Work? 

An online course can be asynchronous - not simultaneous or synchronous - simultaneous. At MCAD, asynchronous online courses do not meet. There are numerous deadlines for tasks and assignments, but students work according to their own schedules. However, synchronous online courses at MCAD include a required weekly meeting.

How Heavy is the Workload? 

The homework in each online class is the same as what is expected of a normal studio or liberal arts college class. On campus, for example, a three-credit studio class meets for five hours a week, and students are expected to do roughly the same amount of work outside of class. This is the measure that the instructors use. In general, students should expect about nine hours of work each week for each three-credit-course. Set aside ample time each week to work on online courses. Generally, the most successful students login almost every day to work and interact with their classmates. MCAD online classes are taught by instructors from both MCAD's campus and out of state, visiting artists, and/or experts brought in from practice and industry who teach in their specialty.

How Are We Assessed in an Online Classroom?

Like in-person classes, how students are assessed in online classes varies by course.  Canvas has several features available to instructors for assessing students. Assessment methods in an online class include but are not limited to online quizzes, participation in discussions, and projects and assignments that require students to upload files from their computer.  

What Do I Do on the First Day of Class?

The sooner you log in, the better! You can start getting familiar with your course on the Sunday before classes start. After you log in,

  1. Check the Announcement on the home page for a welcome message, as well as further instructions from your instructor. You should have also received an email notification when the announcement was posted.
  2. Go to the Syllabus page on your course navigation menu, view both the syllabus and your due dates (listed under Course Summary).
  3. Check if there is an assignment due the first day of class, usually it is listed in the Start Here section. Post your reply by the deadline.


If you have any questions contact Teaching and Learning Excellence at 


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