Great Falls College-MSU is offering free sample online classes

Story image for Online Classes from KRTV Great Falls News


Great Falls College-MSU is offering free sample online classes, called “mini-bytes,” which allow community members to try out an online course for two weeks.

The college’s E-Learning Department is working with faculty members to offer four diverse Mini-Byte classes which include college writing, chemistry, medical terminology, and western civilization.

Officials say the modules will take participants approximately ten hours to complete.

Faculty members will communicate with participants through email, and participants will be assigned homework, tested, and required to submit essays.

If participants decide to enroll at Great Falls College, they will not need to repeat the first two weeks of the online course they sampled.

Instructional Designer Brenda Canine explained: “It’s an open and free platform for folks to really explore what online learning might be about. So, kids going off to college, their parents wanting to see what they’re doing. We’ve got community members not sure they want to come back. Montana has a very large population of folks who started college, maybe didn’t finish, and you know maybe it’s been a while and you’re a little nervous about coming back, this is a way for you to try it out, and see what it’s really like. It really is doable. “

The E-Learning Department will waive the application fee for enrollment to Great Falls College for anyone who completes a Mini-Byte class.

Here is the complete press release from the school:

We all like to sample before buying, whether it is food samples at Costco or test driving a new car. Great Falls College MSU is now offering a way for prospective students and community members to try an online course before they enroll.

GFC MSU launched a new Mini-Byte program through the eLearning Department. GFC MSU is offering four online Mini-Byte classes, which are each the first two weeks of a semester-long online class.

“It’s a chance for anybody in the community to test drive the college,” said Laura Wight, director of eLearning and Library Services at Great Falls College MSU. “It’s completely free and completely open to the public.”

People can start the classes at any time and can take as long as they like to finish them.

“This lets you dip your toe in and see if online classes are right for you,” said Brenda Canine, instructional designer in GFC MSU’s eLearning department. “We get a lot of feedback from students saying they don’t know how an online course works and that taking online classes is a little intimidating.”

That’s where the idea for Mini-Byte classes came from. It offers a way for people to try an online class and find out it is not intimidating and that it is a great way to learn the same information you would in a face-to-face class.

For anyone who completes a Mini-Byte class and goes on to apply for admission at Great Falls College MSU, eLearning will pay their $30 application fee. If they enroll in the semester-long version of the Mini-Byte class they completed, the first two weeks of assignments done in the Mini-Byte class will count toward the for-credit class.

Mini-Byte classes are not just for prospective students. Anyone anywhere in the world is welcome to take a class.

“They don’t have to be a student or have any tie to the college,” Canine said.

To kick off the Mini-Byte program, the college is offering College Writing, Chemistry, Medical Terminology and Western Civilization. Each class is arranged somewhat differently, but requires students to turn in real assignments online, just like they would in a for-credit online class.

“It is really going to give people the experience of taking online classes,” Wight said.

Anyone who registers for a Mini-Byte class will be contacted by an eLearning coach to help them navigate the eLearning platform and to answer any questions they have.

“Whether you are a prospective student or a community member, you’ll get a call from somebody who cares about your success,” Wight said.

The classes are engaging, and the faculty teaching are helpful and quick to respond to students’ questions.

“This is an innovative program, and we are excited to bring this opportunity to our community,” Wight said.

For anyone who has ever thought about attending college or taking online courses, the new Mini-Byte program at Great Falls College MSU creates an excellent opportunity to test the waters.

For more information on the Mini-Byte program or to register for a class, visit To learn more about online courses and programs at GFC MSU, visit

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