eLearning at HTC

Welcome to online learning at Hennepin Technical College.  Online courses provide amazing flexibility in allowing you to continue your education without traveling to campus several times per week.  This can save you time, travel costs, and fit nicely into your already busy life!  Online courses are also an excellent option for students who prefer to work independently at any time of day and, in today’s job market, taking online courses helps workers remain competitive without taking time off from their current jobs.

If you are visiting this webpage, you may have already decided to investigate online learning as an alternative to a traditional classroom.  Online learning can be an exciting option but it can also be quite challenging.  Success in an online course requires a high level of motivation and self-discipline. 

Check out the information and resources on this page to help you determine if online learning is a good option for you.

How Do Online Classes Work?

HTC offers three different types of online learning:  online, blended, and web-enhanced.

          Online Courses

In an online course, instruction occurs over the Internet.  The content of the course is delivered through the HTC Learning Environment, D2L Brightspace.   In fact, you can think of D2L Brightspace (D2L) as your virtual classroom.  Your instructor will post all of your course materials, lectures, assignments, and other learning activities on D2L.  Your instructor will also expect you to read the course documents, participate in course activities and submit your assignments through D2L.  You can log in using any internet-capable device: a computer, tablet, even your smart phone! This means that you will be able to "go to class" whenever and wherever you would like, as long as you have an Internet connection.

Blended Courses

A blended course combines both traditional classroom interactions and online learning experiences.  You will still attend a “brick and mortar” campus and meet face-to-face with your instructor, but some learning activities, content, assignments etc. are delivered through D2L.  In short, your time in a traditional classroom is reduced as a portion of the traditional instruction is replaced by web-based online learning.

Web-enhanced Courses

Web-enhanced courses are just like a traditional class. You will meet face-to-face with the instructor at the regularly scheduled, day, time and location.  Classroom assignments and materials are supplemented with web-based activities.  Select components of your course are accessible through D2L. 

 

 

Are Online Classes Right For Me?  Myths vs Facts

Online learning is not new, but it is evolving to become a more powerful tool for teaching and learning.  When it comes to online vs. traditional education, myths abound.  Your peers may tell you that online classes are not challenging, or that you will be bored or lonely. These misconceptions might sound familiar, or they may surprise you.  It is time to refute some of the common myths surrounding online learning.  Online classes are not just convenient; they are challenging, fun, and interactive. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, we are debunking common myths about online classes.

 

Myth:  Online courses are easier

Online courses are quite the opposite.  The workload for any particular course is the same regardless of the way it is delivered but in an online course, you will need to be more motivated and self-disciplined to meet the course requirements.  In an online course, YOU are accountable for meeting all course deadlines.  Online courses include a lot of reading, and often require you perform research on your own. That means online courses can actually take more time than a traditional course. You need to enroll in an online course knowing that the course will require as much, or more, time and effort as any traditional course.

Myth:  You can participate anytime, anywhere

While you will get to log in to your online courses at the time of day or night that is most convenient for you, online courses follow a course schedule with regular due dates and deadlines. Although the anytime/anywhere access of online courses provides more flexibility than the scheduled classroom sessions of traditional courses, you can expect regular assignments and deadlines that will require you to stay up to date every week.

Myth: You can cram your work into one session per week.

It is generally difficult to be successful in a course when you only log in once every week or two. Most students learn best when they have an opportunity to learn smaller amounts of material and then have a chance to reflect on it before attempting to learn more.  In addition, most online courses require you to log on several times a week to ensure active participation and maximum learning.  Such requirements are often found in the course syllabus.  It is very difficult to take in all the material and complete the week’s requirements in one sitting.

Myth:  You will be working in isolation

Online classes are not a lonely endeavor. On the contrary, through regular discussions and participation, you will be surprised to find yourself immersed in a community of online learners that not only makes you feel more connected, but also helps you learn more and have some fun in the process.  You may not realize it at first, but all your online classroom participation may have you connecting to your classmates and instructors in a way you never thought possible.

Myth:  You can hide behind your computer

There is no back row in an online class.  Online classes are all about participation. It is not only a key factor in learning; it is often a factor in your grade. Most online courses have a required discussion component that is part of the course grade. Not only will these discussions aid you in learning the material, you will also to get to know your classmates in a very open and honest way.  Discussion allows shy students (or those who usually do not raise their hand in class) to participate in a nonthreatening environment and gain self-confidence.

Myth: Computer mishaps can be great excuses

Instructors often will not accept excuses involving broken equipment or being “kicked off” the Internet. It is extremely important to complete work and tests before the last minute. If your home computer or Internet stops working, there are computers available to students in the HTC libraries and Computer Centers. In addition, many public libraries provide Internet access.  Detailed information about your instructor’s policies and expectations are usually included in the course syllabus.  Upfront planning and critical thinking is required in an online class, and that extends to making sure you have access to a working computer and internet connection when it is time to complete your assignments.

Myth:  You will be taught how to use a computer in your online class

Do not expect your instructor to spend time teaching you how to use your computer or how to use the Internet. When you sign up for an online course in a specific subject, expect your instructor to focus on that subject.

Online learning generally does not require extensive technical knowledge, but to be successful in an online course you must have minimal computer competencies such as learning to use your own computer, a working knowledge of how to navigate the Internet, how to use email, basic word-processing skills, and how to download and upload documents.  You also need to know how to log in to D2L and where to find your courses in the Learning Environment.  Be sure to become familiar with D2L and take the time to view any tutorials recommended by your instructor.  Explore your online environment before you get too far into the semester.  It is not advisable to wait until just before an assignment is due to figure out how to submit it through D2L.  

Myth:  It is OK to procrastinate in an online class

Procrastination is definitely not OK - procrastination in online courses can cause more problems for students than procrastination in a traditional course. Students who take an online course need to be very self-disciplined and motivated.

You need to be an independent learner who can take responsibility for completing assignments within set deadlines. It is very easy to get behind since there is no teacher standing up at the front of the class reminding you when things are due. You must be able to set your own schedule and stick to it. Online courses provide some flexibility, but you need to be able to manage this flexibility and not use it to put off doing the work. Online courses put more of the responsibility on the learner.

Myth:  There is no personal attention from your instructor in an online class

Many students who have taken online classes say they know their instructors better and report higher levels of personalized attention than they would receive in a traditional classroom.  Most professors log in daily to check for questions, assignments or problems, and usually get back to students quickly. In addition, some faculty who teach online still have specific office hours when you can call or visit in person.

Myth:  You will not be able to get help with your online class

Many students fear that if they encounter problems while taking online classes, they will be on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. From technical issues to writing assistance to online tutoring, HTC is equipped with resources to help ensure you succeed.

 

The HTC Learning Environment:  D2L Brightspace

D2L Brightspace is the Learning Environment (LE) that is used by Hennepin Technical College and the Minnesota State system.  It is through D2L that you will access all of your courses and course materials for online, blended and web-enhanced courses.  You will find important course documents, your learning activities and assignments, be able to check your grades, and communicate with your classmates and your instructor using this Learning Environment.

You will log in to D2L using your StarID and password.  If you have not activated your StarID, go to StarID Self Service.

To access D2L at HTC, go to D2L Brightspace

 

Ready to Learn More?

Check out these resources for more information.

What Makes A Successful Online Learner?

10 Habits of Successful Students

Navigation Videos for the Brightspace by D2L Learning Environment

The Brightspace Learning Community