If you are enrolled in online classes at Great Falls College MSU, you can expect a similar experience to what you would get in a classroom setting. There are a few differences, of course. We will outline the similarities and differences below. 

Logging On

Since online classes are delivered over the Internet, you will need access to a computer running a fairly new operating system, such as Windows 7 or newer or Mac OS 10.10 or newer. Although tablets such as iPads or Android tablets can help you to complete some work on the go, in most cases you will find that there are some things that require a personal computer running a full version of Windows or Mac OS. 

At Great Falls College MSU, we use Brightspace (D2L) as our learning management system to deliver most course content. There is a link to the Brightspace login page on the college's home page at http://www.gfcmsu.edu, labeled "eLearning & D2L". You should login to Brightspace every day to work on your coursework.

It is recommended that students use the Google Chrome (Windows and Mac), Mozilla Firefox (Windows and Mac), or Safari (Mac only) web browsers while working in the learning management system. 

Listening To, Reading, or Watching Lecture Material

If you were in a classroom setting, you would be listening to the instructor lecture. In the online environment, the lecture could be material you are required to read, videos recorded and/or posted by the instructor, a PowerPoint slideshow, or a host of other things. It's a good idea to take notes and focus while you read, watch, or listen to these documents or recordings, as you would probably do during a live lecture. Taking notes will help you to stay focused on the material and will also help you to remember it. 

Completing Assignments

You will be completing different types of assignments, depending on the type of course. For example, writing courses will have you completing writing assignments, while a communications class might have you recording short videos, or a course in medical terminology may have you making an audio recording of yourself pronouncing the medical terms. No matter the type of assignment, you will be submitting it to the instructor via the "Assignments" tool in Brightspace in most cases, however there are some exceptions.  

Many courses will include smaller weekly assignments, while students work to complete a larger project based assignment to be submitted closer to the end of the semester. 

Discussions

In the classroom setting, students are awarded participation points for engaging in class activities, such as asking and answering questions. In an asynchronous online classroom environment, where the instruction is not occurring at the exact same time for everyone in the class, participation is often handled a bit differently, through the use of online discussions. 

Discussions are typically assigned on a weekly basis, typically with a requirement of creating an original response to a prompt and responding to 1-3 of your classmate's posts. 

Discussions are especially important in the online class environment because they help the instructor gauge how students are absorbing the material and they also help to foster critical thinking skills. 

Quizzes & Exams

Assessments are required in online courses, just as they are in face-to-face courses. Some courses are able to offer their quizzes and tests directly in Brightspace. Other courses require that the student use a program called Respondus LockDown Browser that locks down the computer to prevent printing or screenshots, to prevent cheating. Some other courses use a program called Respondus Monitor that uses a webcam and microphone to record the student while they take the test to deter cheating.

Some other courses require that quizzes and tests be administered by an exam proctor. If the student is able to come to our campus, they can schedule their test with our Testing Center. If the student is not able to come to our campus and a test proctor is required, the student may need to contact the colleges and local library to see if they offer proctoring services for outside students. Once this is setup, the proctor will work with our Testing Center to properly administer the exams. 


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