Introduction to Lakes Online

for decorative purposes

Course Overview

Introduction to Lakes Online is designed for interested individuals, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals, and lakefront property owners interested in gaining knowledge about inland lakes and connecting with others who have a similar interest. In this introductory course, participants increase their knowledge and understanding of the following six topics:

  • Lake ecology
  • Watersheds
  • Shorelines
  • Aquatic plant management
  • Michigan water law
  • Community involvement

Course instructors include Bindu Bhakta, Erick Elgin, Paige Filice, Julia Kirkwood, Dr. Jo Latimore, Brad Neumann, Mary Reilly, and Dr. Lois Wolfson.

2024 Course Information

Course Format

  • Six-week class with participants advancing through the program together
  • Access to new units will be provided on a week-by-week, unit-by-unit basis with each new unit opening on Tuesdays at 8:00 AM eastern. Access to future units will be based on completion of the previous unit’s quiz. The quizzes are made up of 10 multiple choice and true/false questions.
  • Once a unit is available to view, it will remain open. 

What to expect

Every week a new unit exploring an inland lake topic will be released on our website. Participants will explore course topics through video lectures and activities such as readings and exploring interactive websites. Many units also include a discussion forum, prompting participants to interact with others and the instructional team. For those looking to dive deeper into a topic, we also provide numerous additional resources. Each unit takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

Open Date Course Topic Description
1/30 Getting Started Explore the Introduction to Lakes course website and introduce yourself to the class and instructors via discussion forums
2/6 Unit 1:
Lake Ecology
An introduction to lake ecosystems and the exploration of basic lake functions
2/13 Unit 2:
Primer on the water cycle, hydrologic features of a watershed, and land use impacts to lake water quality
2/20 Unit 3:
Review of shoreline features and functions in inland lake ecosystems and best practices to protect water quality and lake habitat
2/27 Unit 4:
Aquatic plants
Introduction to plant identification, short and long-term management techniques, and regulations regarding aquatic vegetation
in Michigan lakes
3/5 Unit 5:
Water Law
Summary of federal, state, and local laws regarding riparian rights, navigability, and permitting on inland lakes in Michigan
3/12 Unit 6:
Community Involvement
Review of institutions involved in lake management, coordinating with other lake groups, and components of a lake management plan
4/5 Certificate/CEU Deadline To receive a Certificate of Completion or Continuing Education Credits all course requirements must be met by this date

Ask-an-Expert webinars

Every other week we offer optional one hour Ask-an-Expert webinars specific to topics in the course. These are hosted by the instructional team and outside experts. During the webinar participants ask questions to a panel via a Q&A box.

  • Wednesday February 21, Noon to 1:00 p.m. EST: Lake Ecology and Watersheds
  • Wednesday March 6, Noon to 1:00 p.m. EST: Shorelines and Aquatic Plants
  • Wednesday March 20, Noon to 1:00 p.m. EST: Water Law and Community Involvement

2024 course syllabus and schedule

Continuing Education

The 2024 course is approved for the following:

Everyone who completes Introduction to Lakes Online is also eligible to receive a free one-year membership to the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association.

Register today!

Register for the class at the link provided below. Too busy but want to be alerted about the January 2025 class? Sign-up here to be added to our email list.


Register by January 12, 2024 for an early bird rate of $95.00. After this date, the course price is $115.00. The deadline to register is January 28, 2024. If the cost of the course is a burden to your participation, please email Paige Filice at Financial assistance is available.

Current individual Michigan Lake and Stream Association members are eligible to receive a reimbursement of $95.00 for completing the course. This reimbursement is only applicable to first time participants of the course.

Registration Instructions (FOLLOW STEPS 1-3 BELOW)

To register for this course you will need to create an account, sign in with your email/password, and complete the registration process. To watch a video tutorial, demonstrating an overview of the registration process, click on the following link: Online Course Registration Video Tutorial. Step-by-step instructions are below.

  1. STEP #1: Create your Michigan State University Guest Account by selecting the Create Your MSU Guest Account button below. (For detailed instructions visit the following web page: Instructions: Creating Your Guest Account.)

    Create Your MSU Guest Account
  2. STEP #2: Click on the button below to login to the registration system with your Guest Account (your email) and Password. Follow the instructions to register for the course. Upon registration, you will receive a receipt and instructions for accessing the course.

    Register for the Introduction to Lakes Online course
  3. STEP #3: After registration is complete, login at with your Guest Account and password. Note you will not have access to the course until January 30, 2024.

*If you need to reset your password at any time go to and select the option for "Need help Signing in."

Technical Assistance

If you have any technical problems, please contact the Michigan State University IT Service Desk. They are available every day the University is open from 7 AM to 12 AM midnight. 

  • Phone: (517) 432-6200
  • Phone (toll free): 1 (844) 678-6200

Frequently Asked Questions

What is my username/NETID?

Your username (or NET ID) is the email address you used to create your account during registration (you use the same email address/password for registering and for taking the course).

What URL do I go to for logging into the course?

Go to: You will see the Michigan State University at the top of the page. Login with the email address and password you set during the registration process.

I received a “not authenticated” response when trying to login – what do I do?

A “not authenticated” message is typically an issue with a password not being entered correctly.

I forgot my password – where can I reset it?

If you need to reset your password at any time go to and select the option for "Need help Signing in."

More Information

Have a question about the course? For more information, contact Paige Filice at