Are you Ready for Online Learning?

An online class may seem daunting, especially if you have been out of school for some time. However, there are resources available to you at the college.If you are struggling with the course content, contact the Learning Center and make arrangements with a tutor. The Learning Center is located in R163 and can be reached by calling 406-771-5127.If you have a disability and need special accommodations, contact our Disability Coordinator Kathy Meier at 406-771-4311.If you are struggling with D2L Brightspace and how to navigate in the Learning Management System, contact the eLearning Department in A120 across from Student Central and next to the Library by calling 406-771-4440.If you are struggling with finding research for your coursework or need to use a computer lab, visit the Weaver Library. Students can also access library databases right from home. If you have questions, call the Library at 406-771-4398 for assistance. If you are struggling with computers or technology or a lack specific skills to be successful, short 1-credit courses are available to students through the Lifelong Learning Department. If you don't have access to a computer, we have a computer lab in the Library and computers in the eLearning office for students who need one-on-one help.

All online students are expected to follow guidelines and rules in the college catalog. Learning online also requires students to be self-motivated and willing to solve problems related to technology. Online classes take as much or more time to complete as regular face-to-face classes. To be successful, take advantage of the many resources available to you. If you are unsure where to go for help, stop by the eLearning Office and we will point you in the right direction.

Part I. Technical Skills

Do I have access to a computer with the following? 

Operating System
  Minimum Recommended
Microsoft® Windows

Windows 7

Windows 8 or higher
Apple® MacOSx MacOSx 10.9 MacOSx 10.10 or higher

Some courses may utilize software that requires a Windows computer or a Mac with a Windows partition.

Web Browser
Browser Minimum Recommended
Internet Explorer 10 or higher 11 or higher
Google Chrome 35 or higher 39 or higher
Mozilla Firefox 31 or higher 34 or higher or 31 ESR
Mac OSx
Browser Minimum Recommended
Apple Safari 7 or higher 8 or higher
Google Chrome 35 or higher 39 or higher
Mozilla Firefox 31 or higher 34 or higher or 31 ESR

Please note that newer browser versions incorporate security fixes and newer technologies, which may often lead to a better user experience. Current browser versions are recommended when the option is available. 


Additional Software

  • Microsoft Office 2010 or later for a personal computer (PC), Microsoft Office 2011 for a Mac. 
    • Please note: some courses, such as Introduction to Computers, have specific requirements, such as access to a PC running Windows 8.1 with Microsoft Office 2013 Professional. 
  • An up to date installation of Adobe Reader.
  • An up to date installation of the Adobe Flash plug-in.
  • An up to date installation of Java may be required for some courses. 
  • A system enabled to allow installation of browser plug-ins required.
  • Local administrative privileges to operating system may be required. 
  • Current Antivirus software (updated regularly). 

Some courses may require the purchase of additional software. 

Mobile Devices

Students may use mobile devices, such as iPads, Android tablets, and smart phones to access some online course content. However, access to website functionality and required course materials may be limited on mobile devices. 

Basic Computer Skills

  1. Can you run the applications you need to use on a computer? This includes any specific applications which may be required for the courses you plan on taking. 

  2. Can you create, save and manage files on your computer? 

  3. Do you know how to install software on your computer if you need to? 

  4. Do you currently have an e-mail address? 

  5. Do you know how to send and receive e-mail messages? 

  6. Do you know how to attach a file to an e-mail message? 

  7. Do you know how to "paste" text from a word processor into an email message? 

  8. Do you know how to receive a file attachment from an incoming email message? 

If your computer does not meet the minimum requirements listed above, we recommend you upgrade your computer before taking an online class. However, Great Falls College MSU also has a computer lab available to students who are able to commute to campus. The computer lab is located in the library. If the library hours do not meet your needs, contact the Help Desk to make arrangements to use a computer room. The Help Desk can be reached at 406.771.4433 or by email at

If you answered "No" to any of the questions for Basic Computer Skills, you should take advantage of any resources in your area to acquire these technical skills before taking an online course. The Outreach Department offers 1-credit computer courses that may be beneficial to you. The eLearning Department on campus conducts training sessions the first week prior to the beginning of each semester to acquaint you with your online course navigation. A computer lab is located in the campus library for students to use while taking their online course, and students are encouraged to drop by the eLearning Office for technical assistance or email for help.


Part II. Learning Styles

  1. Do you stay on task without direct supervision (or do you work best when someone is there to help keep you focused)? 

  2. Can you prioritize your own workload (or do you tend to put tasks off for later)? 

  3. Do you learn best from reading source material and completing activities (or do you learn best from spoken or visual presentations)? 

  4. Do you enjoy learning new computer or technology skills (or does the thought of having to learn new computer or technology skills cause you anxiety)? 

  5. Do you usually understand written instructions (or does having instructions explained make a big difference for you) 

  6. Are you planning to allocate as much time in your schedule for your online course as you would for a more "traditional" classroom course (because the workload and time commitment will be the same!)? 

  7. Are you good at assessing your own progress (or do you need instructor feedback right away)? 

If you answered the above questions affirmatively, great! You are ready to attend online classes! 

If your answers lean more toward the statements/questions in parentheses, then you may find the online learning environment less satisfying. Most of our online courses use email-based interaction which can be less satisfying than face-to-face communication for some learners. The online classroom requires you to structure your own schedule, balancing your time around the assignments/ requirements of the class. Without the need to show up in a particular place at a designated time each week, some learners find it all too easy to put work off until the last minute. Much of the material covered in a typical online class will require you to learn from reading. This may include textbooks, Internet-based materials and written "lectures" or notes from your instructor. 

This self assessment has been created to help you decide if online learning is for you. It can serve as an indicator but not as a definitive answer. If you have any questions about taking a course online, please contact us. We are here to assist you! 


Your instructor may require you to find a testing proctor to administer your exam. If a testing proctor is required, it will be stated in your course syllabus, getting started page, or you will be notified by your instructor.

Tests must be given by an acceptable proctor and identified by the student in advance of the first test. Acceptable proctors include:

  1. Dean, Department chairperson or registrar of a college or university

  2. Professional staff of an adult or continuing education office, community or testing center at a college or university

  3. Public or private school superintendent, principal, or counselor

  4. Certified librarian

  5. Civil Services Examiner

  6. Judge of Court of Law

  7. Staff of MSU Cooperative or Extension Office

  8. Relatives may not service as a test proctor regardless of position

  9. A postage-paid envelope will be provided to the proctor for returning testing materials. 


To gain maximum value from your study we suggest that you use a systematic approach at the beginning of the term and carry it through to all of your online coursework:
  1. Examine the learning outcomes/curriculum and outline of the course in the syllabus and calendar. 

  2. Make sure that you understand what you are expected to gain from the course. 

  3. Plan a schedule that allows you to work through the material. 

  4. Complete the required course orientation. 

  5. Begin your study program by reading through the course material to familiarize yourself with the content. 

  6. Read the assigned lecture or lesson for the week. 

  7. Make note of stated learning goals and/or provided focus questions for the week. 

  8. Read assigned textbook readings, make notes of important information. 

  9. Follow up any links which are provided to other parts of the course or to outside references (focus on learning goals or focus question answers). 

  10. Carry out the learning activities such as weekly discussions, citing of sources, quizzes, journals, assignments or other activities. 

  11. ASK QUESTIONS before problems grow out of control.  Communication is the key to online courses. They are learning communities where instructors and students work together to learn.