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K-12 Online Learning FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Minnesota online learning.

How Does an Online Class Work?

In an online course, students learn by reading, writing, and performing other learning activities designed by the instructor. Online students "attend" class by accessing the class web pages and completing assignments according to the class schedule. Students communicate regularly with the instructor and classmates using e-mail and online discussion forums.

More information is available at What is Online Learning?

How Can You Be Successful in Your Online Class?

Students learning online have greater responsibility for their own success than students in a traditional classroom setting. You must have the self-discipline and self-motivation to work on a flexible schedule and not get behind. Persistence and willingness to work collaboratively in an online environment are also important.

Good written communication and technology skills are vital. You will need to be comfortable using e-mail, the Internet, and word processing software (such as Microsoft Word). You must be willing to commit the time necessary to stay current with computer technology. You must have access to the necessary computer equipment.

More information is available at What Makes a Successful Online Learner?

How Do You Enroll in a K-12 Online Course?

There are two ways to enroll.

  1. Stay enrolled at your regular school while taking one or more online classes.

    You can take one to six semester credits per year in an approved online program or school and maintain your enrollment at your current school.

    Find a course that interests you at K-12 Online Courses. Talk with the online school or program to learn more about the course. Make sure they are accepting applications and have room in the course(s). Meet with your school counselor to ensure the online course(s) will not interfere with other requirements. Provide all program and course information your counselor may need. Once you make your decision, fill out and submit an application. Observe deadlines to enroll. The school or program can help with that application process.

  2. Enroll in an online school or program.

    If you are interested in enrolling full time as an online student, look for a school that offers a comprehensive online course of study for your grade level.

    Find more information at Enrollment in Minnesota Online Learning Courses

What School Is Responsible for Comprehensive Student Enrollment if You Register for Online Classes Outside of Your Enrolling (Local) School?

The student and family determine where comprehensive enrollment occurs.

Continued enrollment in the brick-and-mortar local school requires that all grade level and graduation requirements are met at that district. Online courses are transferred in. The enrolling school continues to provide non-academic services.

The student may take one to six semester credits per year online and remain enrolled in their local school.

Find more information at Enrollment in Minnesota Online Learning Courses.

Can You Enroll in More Than a Full Schedule of Classes Through Online Learning?

You can participate in more than 12 semester credits per year, but it would be at your own expense.

Usually, the best choice is to create an opening in your schedule. Make certain that the total number of credits taken between the traditional school and the online school does not exceed full-time status (12 semester classes per year). If you enroll beyond full-time status, the online school can charge you tuition for the additional class.

If you fall behind and qualify for graduation incentives, you may be eligible for additional courses through a Learning Year Program or Alternative Learning Center to get on track to graduate. More information about this is available from the Minnesota Department of Education.

How Will Credits Earned in Online Courses Count Towards Finishing Your Grade and Working Towards Graduation?

You will receive academic credit for completing an online course or program. Secondary (high-school) credits must be counted toward the graduation and credit requirements of the enrolling district. The enrolling district must apply the same graduation requirements to all students, including online students, and must continue to provide non-academic services to online students.

If you complete an online course or program that meets or exceeds a graduation standard or grade progression requirement at the enrolling district, then that standard or requirement is met.

If you stay enrolled at your local school, the online school will send final grade records to your local school when you have completed the class.

How Will Having a High School Diploma from an Online School Be Viewed by Colleges During Admission?

Online students meet all of the same graduation requirements as other public school students in Minnesota. You earn a public high school diploma when you complete the requirements in your online high school program.

Online learning is increasingly being accepted as a mainstream option for high school and college students. In fact, in 2006, Michigan's legislature added an online requirement for high school graduation.

Is Online Learning Open to All Minnesota K-12 Students?

Yes, but you must have your parent's permission if you are under 18. No school district or charter school may prohibit a student from applying to enroll in online learning.

Are There Deadlines for Student Applications?

Some online schools accept applications at any time. This is called "rolling" admissions. Others have deadlines. Check with the online school about how they admit and enroll students.

Enrolling in a full-time online program requires a change of school district or enrollment in a charter school. To open enroll in a nonresident district online program, complete an application form and submit it to the nonresident district or program. The open enrollment process normally takes place in January and February for the following fall.

Find more information at Enrollment in Minnesota Online Learning Courses.

How Do You Get Access to Necessary Technology for Online Learning?

A part-time online student has the same access to the school's computers as other students in the enrolling district.

An online school must assist an online student whose family qualifies for the education tax credit to acquire computer hardware and educational software for online learning purposes.

Do Teachers of Online Courses Need to Be Licensed in Minnesota?

Yes, a properly licensed, qualified Minnesota teacher must assemble and deliver instruction to online students enrolled in approved programs. The delivery of instruction occurs when the student interacts with the computer or the teacher and receives ongoing assistance and assessment of learning. The instruction may include curriculum developed by persons other than a teacher with a Minnesota license.

Is There a Limit on the Number of Students Enrolling in a Single Course or Program?

Unless the commissioner grants a waiver, a teacher providing online instruction must not instruct more than 40 students in any one online course or program.

Who Can You Contact with Questions About K-12 Online Learning in Minnesota?

Program questions can be directed to Deborah W. Proctor, Ph.D. at 651-582-8328 or deborah.proctor@state.mn.us or mde.onlinelearning@state.mn.us. Funding questions can be addressed to Sharon Peck at sharon.peck@state.mn.us or 651-582-8811.

Source: Minnesota Department of Education