Online Course Info
The professors at BMA Seminary try to make online courses as much like traditional classroom courses as we can in terms of content, course objectives, expectations, and desired results. However, the format and assignments can be quite different. Rather than listening to a traditional lecture in a classroom, online students will typically have more reading or interactive assignments as well as short videos to watch. Select online courses also include live video interactions.
To replace the interaction students might have with each other in a regular class discussion, online professors have weekly threaded discussion questions. Online students make several discussion postings throughout the week, commenting about each other’s postings. These postings are not time sensitive within the week, and students can post them at any time of the day or night. Many students find this interaction with each other to be a very enjoyable part of the online class experience.
Reading assignments for an online course are either the same or greater than they are for a traditional course. Other assignments, such as book reviews and papers, are usually the same for an online course as a traditional course. However, for an online course the papers and book reviews are uploaded through the online course.
As much as possible the online course takes the same amount of time as the regular course which meets in a class. In a traditional classroom-based course students are expected to spend about two hours studying, preparing, and completing assignments for each hour spend in the classroom. In a three-hour course a student would spend three hours a week in the classroom and six hours a week studying outside the classroom. This is a total time commitment of nine hours per week for each course.
A student will also spend about nine hours per week on a three-hour online course. However since there is no classroom time, the entire nine hours is spent completing assignments such as reading textbooks and taking notes, discussing weekly study questions with other students, answering study questions, studying for exams, and preparing a book review, paper, or sermon. These assignments will vary from week to week. An online course is not easier, nor does it take less time than a regular course. Students who expect online courses to be short and easy will be very surprised by what they discover.
Online courses offer several advantages over traditional courses. The greatest advantage is geographic flexibility. A student can take an online course from anyplace in the world. Leaving good jobs, uprooting families, and abandoning ministry opportunities are no longer a necessary part of obtaining a seminary education. Online courses also have an advantage of time flexibility. One’s time spent on the course is usually completely flexible within each week of study, so online courses fit a variety of student schedules. This flexibility is also attractive to students who also take some on-campus classes, but have employment situations that make it difficult to take all classes that way. Finally, online courses can be more interesting than traditional lecture courses due to the variety of teaching methods employed and diversity of materials utilized.
There are some real challenges with online courses. Certain students are better suited to learning in an online environment, while others truly need the classroom experience to be a successful learner. Check out “Should I Take Online Courses?” to see if you might be a student who will thrive in online classes.
Should I Take Online Courses?
Is online learning for you? Are you the type of person who will benefit from education via cyberspace? Answer the following questions to determine how successful an online student you may be.
Are you self-motivated?
Online courses require more self-discipline from students than traditional courses do. Most online assignments have a window of one week in which to complete them. The online student must be self-disciplined enough to spend the right amount of time daily or every couple of days to get the job done. Students who tend to procrastinate fare poorly in online education.
Are you computer competent?
You don’t have to be a computer whiz, but you do need to be able to complete all course tasks on the computer. You must be able to navigate web pages, email others, use a word processor (like Word or Pages), and open files from programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat. You can do all of this on a computer or tablet.
Do you have the proper equipment for online education?
You must have daily access to a computer or tablet with a good Internet connection to take an online class.
Are you comfortable communicating through the keyboard?
Virtually all communication in online education is through typing. The online student must be comfortable communicating this way. Writing is different than oral conversation and an online student ought to be comfortable with written communication.
Do you have enough time for the course?
Online education places the same demands on a student’s time as a traditional course. Even though you are not spending time meeting in a room, you will still spend a lot of time on an online course. For a three credit hour course, expect to spend a minimum of nine hours per week working on the course. Some weeks might take a little less and other weeks will take much more.
If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, you could be an ideal online student. However, not all of these qualifications are deal-breakers. An inexperienced computer user could get help from a friend or someone might have to work harder at writing in discussion boards. There are two things an online course will not help you with: it will not create more hours in your day and will not help you find motivation.
Ultimately you have to be the judge of whether online education at BMA Seminary is a good fit for you.
- When can I register for online classes?
Usually the schedule for the upcoming semester is available about the middle of the current semester and early registration opens shortly thereafter. Current students and incoming students may register during early registration and anytime thereafter, until registration closes at the beginning of the new semester.
- How do I register?
Current students and incoming students register through the DiscipleLink system on the Seminary’s website. You are encouraged to call, email, or personally visit with an advisor in the Dean’s Office before beginning the registration process to ensure the courses you plan to take will help you complete your degree in a timely manner. All course registrations must be approved by an advisor before you are enrolled in a class.
You will not be able to access your online courses until you have completed the registration process by making payment arrangements in the Business Office.
- How do I access Student Email?
We provide a web-based e-mail account for students at BMA Seminary through Google Apps for Education. All you need is a web-enabled device to access it. You will be issued a user name and password during the first time you register.
Typically, your professor will send all course-related emails to your student email address. You are encouraged to check it regularly.
- When do online classes start?
Online courses are offered on the same schedule as on-campus courses. They begin in January, May, and August. Specific dates can be found in the Academic Calendar at the front of the Catalog.
- How do I pay for classes?
Once you have registered and been approved by your advisor, your class will go onto your student bill in your DiscipleLink account. You can check your account in the DiscipleLink system. Students will not receive a paper bill in the mail! You may pay your bill online via DiscipleLink, send in your payment, or pay in person at the Business Office.
If you are not paying your bill in full at the time of registration (whether receiving grants or scholarships, taking out student loans, or using a payment plan), you will be required to complete and return a Tuition Contract before your registration will be completed.
- How much do online classes cost?
Tuition—$160.00 per semester hour ($480 for a 3 hour course)
Distance Learning Fee—$100.00 per course
Matriculation/Registration Fee—$30.00 per semester
Library Fee—$45.00 per semester
All possible tuition charges and fees are listed here.
- Can I work on my own time, or are there set times I have to log in to the class?
Most of our online classes are not time-sensitive. You do not have to log on a specific day or days at a particular time. The assignments and tests are usually posted on a certain day of the week and you are given one week to complete those tasks. You can determine at what time during the week you wish to complete the work in the course, so long as you complete it before it is due.
A few select online courses have live video components. These courses are clearly marked on the semester class schedule so that you will know what time(s) of the week these courses meet. You are responsible to log in to the videochats at the appropriate times as part of the course. Other assignments in these courses are completed according to your schedule as described above.
- Do you have live online chats or video conferences?
In a few select courses, yes. There may be scheduled videochats with professors and fellow students on a regular basis. These are only used in courses where the faculty believes it is not possible to effectively learn the material without significant live interaction with the professor and other students.
For most courses, no. Most courses use discussion boards where the professor posts questions or comments and students post answers or have further discussion over the course of a week.
- Do I have to apply to be a student to take one online course?
There is a short application for individuals who only wish to take a few courses, but do not want to pursue a degree. However, anyone wanting to take an online course must first be admitted to the Seminary as a student.
- Do I have to choose a degree program to take online courses?
No. You can choose to be a Non-Degree Seeking student. However, you still have to apply and be admitted as a student.
- How do I get a syllabus?
Once you complete the registration process you will be able to login to your online course, where you will be able to access the syllabus. If you wish to preview a course syllabus before registering for a course, you can also view the Seminary’s online directory of syllabi. The directory is organized according to semester and professor’s name.
- How do I know what books I need to purchase?
Books needed for each class are listed on the syllabus. Other than courses using DiscipleWay materials, the Seminary does not maintain an on-campus bookstore to sell textbooks. You are encouraged to purchase your books through a local Christian bookstore or a reputable online bookseller, such as directtextbook.com, christianbook.com, or amazon.com.
- Is there new student orientation for online students?
Yes. New Student Orientation is available on Moodle for all incoming students. You will be able to access the orientation after you have completed the registration process.
- How do I receive my grades?
Grades for specific assignments will be posted in the online course. You may check final grades at the end of the semester through your DiscipleLink account.
Why Is Every Class Not Online?
Some important skills, such as evangelism and discipleship, simply cannot be effectively taught apart from personal interaction with a teacher. Here at BMA Seminary, we don’t just want to tell you how to minister, we want to show you.
When we teach evangelism, we don’t just ask you to memorize a gospel outline or practice on your fellow students. We take you out into the community and share the Gospel with genuinely lost people who are willing to listen to us. You learn by observing faculty members and senior students sharing the Gospel and then by sharing the Gospel yourself, initially with plenty of help and coaching from faculty members and other mentors. You learn by doing, not just by hearing or seeing.
When we teach discipleship, we don’t just talk about the need to disciple others or introduce you to discipleship curriculum. We take the time to personally disciple you, not in a lecture class but in a very small group. We study God’s Word with you, pray with you, worship with you, and serve with you. Then when you are ready to begin discipling another believer, we mentor you so that you will learn to become a lifelong disciple-maker.
So why is every class not online? Because not all ministry can be done through a computer. Ministry is for people. Some ministry skills can only be taught through direct interaction with people. That is why we offer courses in a Motion format that allows for personal interaction, even for those who live far away from our campus.