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Tech Center offers range of online classes

Where can you go if you want to learn to play the guitar, speak conversational Japanese, upgrade your Excel knowledge and earn a certificate in gerontology or pursue more than 250 other interests even if you don't have time to sit in class each day?

The answer is Great Plains Technology Center's website, greatplains.edu, to look for the link to the school's online courses, or go directly to www.ed2go.com/gplawton. 

Since 2010, Great Plains has partnered with ed2go to offer six-week, instructor-led or tutorial classes online.

The main reason the partnership exists "is to provide that ability for students to get either professional development or personal enrichment training (even) if they are not able to come to campus for training. And some students prefer to study online; it is more convenient and they have the flexibility of time," said John Noel, director of adult career development. Another reason is that "there are courses we may not be able to offer because there isn't enough interest to run the course. If it is available online, students still have the ability to take the course."

Wednesday is the start of the first of four six-week sessions and online signup is underway. Sept. 13, Oct. 18 and Nov. 8 are the next start times for a six-week-long classes. 

What about learning from subject matter experts about "Homeschool With Success" or start learning about Microsoft Word 2016 in the first of three, six-week flexible classes that make up the Microsoft Office 2016 Value Suite?

How the courses are set up

Each semester about 50 to 100 students take advantage of the online classes, Noel said. 

While people at one time or another have used a tutorial-style DVD or class  think exercise or language  some have not accessed instructor-led courses that allow them to interact with the instructor and some classmates.

At www.ed2go.com/gplawton, most of the classes are instructor led. The ed2go tutorials, which can be started at any time and worked at a person's own pace, are primarily focused on preparing technicians to take various Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exams. 

The instructor-led courses allow the person to "learn a new skill or enhance existing ones," according to ed2go. "You'll spend roughly two to four hours each week completing two engaging lessons. ... Expert instructors develop and lead every course, and you'll be able to interact with them and with fellow students."

The instructor-led courses have pre-taped instructions. Two lessons are released each week of the six-week course and the student can interact with the instructor and other students via the online discussion boards, Noel said, adding that there isn't a set time to interact, but a student can leave a message on the discussion boards. If the instructor is online at the time, he or she may respond or the instructor may respond later as may other students. 

"It is self-paced during those six weeks. They will usually release two lessons per week and you work on those that week," Noel said.

But life happens, so there is some flexibility built in. 

"It may be a situation that I'm going to be on vacation for two weeks, but the lessons will still be out there. So when you come back, you can catch up," Noel said. 

When the last lesson is released during the sixth week, the final test  if there is one for the course  is released and the student has two weeks, plus 10 days to take the test.

Individual or bundled and costs

Whether you want to learn how to play guitar or pursue a certificate in integrative mental health, the online catalog of courses cover interests in the following topics: accounting and finances, business, college readiness, computer applications, design and competition, health care and medical, language and arts, law and legal, personal development, teaching and education, technology, and writing and publishing. Under each of the topics is a myriad of individual courses and some bundled courses. 

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