Frequently Asked Questions

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1 Frequently Asked Questions Why would a public school offer online courses? The intent of Minnetonka s Tonka Online is not to replace the rich learning experience that takes place in a traditional classroom, but rather supplement this experience with new opportunities for learners. Minnetonka Public Schools is dedicated to serving the needs of our students, and we are continually evolving and innovating to demonstrate our commitment to excellence. Why should I take an online course? Becoming a successful online learner is an integral skill set that students must master to thrive in the 21st Century. Many students will take online courses in college or post-secondary careers and find themselves with no preparation for success. Online learning provides an opportunity for students to own their learning and demonstrate a commitment to their studies. Through Tonka Online, students will become active participants and contributors. For some students, this is a new way of learning. While highly-motivated and disciplined learners will often be successful candidates for online learning, it s important that all students have an opportunity to learn the necessary skills of being an online learner. Will I receive credit for courses I take online? Yes, Tonka Online courses count just the same as a traditional course. Minnetonka Public Schools students will receive a letter grade and credit for courses completed through Tonka Online on their transcripts. Students outside of the district will receive a letter grade which may be transferred to your school s transcript. For students outside of Minnetonka Public Schools, please check with your school counselor to ensure your school will accept courses through Tonka Online prior to completing the course request Will I have a real teacher? Absolutely! Tonka Online courses are designed and taught by our certified educators who will guide you through your coursework every step of the way. Your teacher is very involved in your learning when you take an online course through Tonka Online, and students may be surprised to find out just

2 how much their teacher is involved! If you are struggling, your instructor is available to meet either virtually or in-person. Many of our online instructors also hold weekly office hours for students who live locally. How does online learning work? Each course has a real teacher who will guide you through learning. Our courses are broken down into digestible chunks called modules. Typically, our courses are paced by the instructor. You ll have flexibility to complete your work, but you will be expected to meet the targeted deadlines. Coursework requires an ongoing effort on the part of the student, and students should login to Schoology at least 3-4 times per week. As you work through the modules of your course, you will connect with your teacher and classmates to complete various online assignments, group chats, and discussion forums. How does grading work in Tonka Online? Grading will closely align with the traditional Minnetonka classrooms, as will both formative and summative assessments and homework. Feedback will be continual and timely in an effort to maintain high levels of student success. If I sign up for summer and don t finish, can I keep going in the fall until I am done? No. Students will be expected to stay on pace with the course and will complete the course on schedule and receive the grade they have earned. How much does Tonka Online cost? If Tonka Online is selected as a part of a student s regular schedule within the six-period day, then there is no charge for a Tonka Online course. However, if students are taking a Tonka Online course so that they have room for additional courses in their four-year plan, then there is a fee. The course fee is $ for a one semester course and $ for a two semester course. Students outside of the district are encouraged to contact their school counselor to see if the school will cover the course fees. How many courses can I take online through Tonka Online? Being a successful online learner requires time and dedication to your studies. During the school year, Minnetonka High School students may take up to two online courses per semester. All online course registration requires approval from your guidance counselor. For summer school, it is strongly recommended students take no more than one course due to the intensive timeline.

3 How often should I log in to my online course? Online courses can easily be forgotten if you don t develop a consistent study plan. It is strongly recommended that you log in to Schoology 3-4 times each week to actively participate in your online course. Remember that you can pick the time of the day that works best for your schedule. You may be more alert in the evenings or early mornings. There is no required time of the day that students must be in Tonka Online courses, just be sure to make time for your online course. How do I enroll in an online course through Tonka Online? Fall 2014 registration is aligned with regular school registration. Course fees (if applicable) are collected through the Bursar. Why would I choose PE in Tonka Online instead of a less expensive online provider? Tonka Online s Summer PE is only 11 weeks compared to the typical 15 week window required by other providers. At $199, the Tonka Online rate for PE is lower than the typical semester rate. The cost is still slightly higher than other online providers, but the higher quality experience with Minnetonka staff and curriculum makes the Tonka Online course a better experience for students. Where do I go for my online course? All Tonka Online students should report the Media Center during their scheduled online course. Please scan your student ID upon check-in. Juniors and Seniors who are scheduled for Period 1 or 6 will receive additional information about the seat-time waiver opportunity during that time. What will I learn in the orientation? The orientation is an important component to being a successful online learner. During this time, you will learn how to effectively use Schoology, Google Docs, and Blackboard Collaborate. These are three important instructional tools that will be used throughout your courses. You will be asked to develop a study plan for the summer, and bookmark important contacts and resources. In addition, we will address plagiarism, digital citizenship, and other important topics so that you can develop your online skills. Your assignments will be graded during the orientation, and students must achieve an 85% mastery on the orientation projects in order to be granted access to your online course.

4 I will be traveling over the summer. Can I still participate in Tonka Online? Yes! Tonka Online courses allow you to learn wherever you d like. As long as you have reliable internet connection, you will not need to make any special accommodations. If you are planning to travel and will NOT be able to access the internet consistently during that time, you must make a plan with your instructor IN ADVANCE to your departure. You may work ahead to avoid missing important due dates, or discuss an adjusted time frame with your course instructor. If you are planning to be away for more than a week without reliable internet access, it is recommended you do not take a Tonka Online course. When will I pay for a Tonka Online course? For summer courses, parents/guardians will be notified electronically via and Skyward on June 1, 2014 regarding the payment procedure for Tonka Online courses. The preferred method of payment is online via Skyward Family Access (efunds). Checks will also be accepted, however. IMPORTANT NOTICE: Payment is due in full by June 4, 2014 in order to hold your child s spot in the course. Please note that this payment is non-refundable unless the course has been cancelled. Should your child decide not to participate in Tonka Online courses over the summer, refunds will not be permitted. How can I support my child in online learning? Encourage your child to use help-seeking strategies if he/she doesn t understand something. This includes contacting the teacher, requesting a time to meet during virtual office hours, asking peers, conducting research to learn more, or it may be as simple as rereading the instructions for clarity. Help your child create good study habits. Students can do this by setting a schedule and logging into Schoology frequently, avoiding distractions by setting aside uninterrupted time to focus on coursework, and actively participating with classmates and the instructor. As a rule of thumb, parents should encourage their child to login at least 3-4 times a week to Schoology. Being a successful online learner means that students also understand the importance of digital citizenship. Parents can take advantage of free resources to help promote responsibility and ethical use of technology. When conducting research, students should seek credible resources and always cite their resources. Plagiarism is never acceptable and could result in an automatic failure of the course. Help your child understand the seriousness of plagiarism. To learn more about plagiarism, please

5 visit Plagiarism.org. Help your child develop good research habits. You are encouraged to read How to Make Students Better Online Researchers for suggestions. Stay informed. Parents who request a login to Schoology can monitor the assignments and due dates to help your child stay on task. You may also opt-in to receive text messages from the teacher as reminders are sent. Who does Tonka Online serve? Currently, Tonka Online courses seek to serve any high school student or incoming high school student who is interested in learning online. Our course offerings are available to any student seeking to take a course to get ahead in their studies. This includes public/charter school students, private school, and homeschool students. How is my spot in the course determined? Class sizes are limited in order to maintain the integrity of our program. While our mission is to support all learners in our local communities and beyond, Tonka Online does give priority registration to students enrolled in Minnetonka Public Schools. Remaining spots will be open to any high school student who has met the prerequisite requirements. If more students apply for a course than spots available, Tonka Online will explore opening additional sections or finding a suitable alternative for the student. In addition, the time-stamp on the Tonka Online application or course request will be used to determine your placement. In some instances, students who present a strong rationale for needing an online course may be able to join the requested online course. Why aren t there more online course offerings? The curriculum for Tonka Online is developed entirely by Minnetonka Public Schools educators. To ensure quality and rigor, our development process takes several months. We intend to increase our offerings each summer, and want to hear from you! What courses do you want to see us develop in the near future?

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