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Minnesota West Online

Frequently Asked Questions

Find Out More About Online Courses

Technical/Support Questions

More About Online Courses

How are online courses different from traditional on-campus classes?
Generally, the online courses are set up in units with assignments from each unit due by a specified date.
Your quizzes and other written assignments are done online. Discussion is an important part of many classes. The discussion feature is similar to an inclass discussion, but there is a record of all postings. You may be expected to post your own comments as well as respond to other students' ideas and opinions. 

When surveyed, students responded that an online course is just as much work as on-campus course and that it may even take more time to do the actual coursework. However, they also responded that the convenience of working at home and on their own schedule was well worth the extra effort.

Is an online course right for me?

Online learning may not be for everyone - be sure to consider your learning style and ability to work independently.  Take our free, non-credit Introduction to Online Learning course, to learn more about our online courses and practice using our system.  If you are a current student, log in to D2L Brightspace to access the course.  If you are not a current student, please email to request guest access to the course.

How much time will I be spending online?

For a three credit class, you will spend six to nine hours a week working on course work. Some of this time will be spent online, and other time will be spent reading and writing offline.
It is more important that you visit your class often than it is to stay on for long periods of time. You may want to check daily to see if your instructor has put up a new announcement or if there is anything new in the discussion area.

What courses are available online? Review a list of the available online courses and programs.

Can I look at a sample online course? 
You may also want to take the free Introduction to Online Learning course before taking an online course. Contact the and ask to be enrolled.

How do I register for an online course?

Most of our online courses start at the beginning of a semester and finish by the end of that semester. You register for an online course the same way you register for a traditional course: phone, online, or in person. Be sure that you use the correct section number for the online course. You may contact the registrar if you have questions. 

Once I am registered, what do I do next?
After completing registration, you may want to send an email to the instructor of your online course. Courses are opened the first day of the semester, unless the instructor elects to open the course early. You will want to log in to the online course system and your student email so that you are prepared for classes. You can access these links from the Minnesota West home page.

Technical/Support Questions

Do I need email to take an online course?

Yes, email is the primary means of communication between you and your instructor. Minnesota West students are expected to use their free student email account. Instructors require that you use your Minnesota West student email with an online course.

Do I need a computer at home?
You do not need to have a computer at home in order to take an online course. However, you must have access to your courses. Computers in the college computer labs and libraries have the necessary specifications and software for online courses. It will of course be more convenient for you if you have a computer at home, but it is not required.

What kind of hardware and software do I need?
You should verify that your computer has the minimum hardware and software requirements. Required software may be downloaded free from the Internet. Additional requirements for a given course may be specified by your instructor.

How do I purchase books?
There are two ways for online students to obtain books. You may order them directly from the Minnesota West Bookstore or you may purchase them from our online bookstore. from an online bookstore. You should order your books at least two weeks before the class starts to ensure that you have books when the class begins.

What if I need library resources?
Online students have access to the Minnesota West Library & Academic Resource Center (LARC) website. You can search the library MnPALS catalog and order books through interlibrary loan. Using the Articles and Databases tab, you can access 20+ databases of full text articles and full text subject reference resources. RESEARCHquickstart has links to selected subject websites to assist you in your research.

If you are writing a paper and need to cite your sources, the LARC website offers help with Citation Styles (MLA,APA). Check under Off-campus Access for distance learning library services and for library staff contact information. Please contact a librarian about accessing online resources.

How can I get help with questions or technical problems?
Questions related to your course should be directed to your instructor. If you are having trouble accessing the Internet, you should contact your Internet Service Provider. If you have technical issues regarding the online class itself, contact the Help Desk.