Introduction to Lakes Online

for decorative purposes

Course Overview

In this course, you will learn about inland lake ecology, management, and protection through six interactive online units. Inland lakes are complex ecosystems and are often negatively affected by both the people that live near them as well as the water that drains into them. Frequently, local communities struggle to protect and manage inland lakes in a way that incorporates the best available knowledge and resources.

Introduction to Lakes Online is designed for concerned citizens, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals, and lakefront property owners interested in gaining knowledge about inland lakes. From the comfort of home or office, participants have 24/7 access to the course website. Each unit of the course includes closed captioned video lectures, interactive activities, discussion forums, quizzes, and additional resources for those looking to dive deeper into a topic. Each unit will take approximately 2 hours to complete.  We also offer three Ask-an-Expert webinars where participants can ask MSU Extension experts and invited guest’s questions related to inland lakes. The course is taught on a week-by-week basis, allowing for online communication between classmates and instructors through topical discussion forums.

Through this convenient format, 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.

Course Format

This is a six-week cohort based online course meaning all participants will be advancing through the educational program together in a collaborative manner. Each week a new course topic will become available for completion. Each unit takes approximately 2 hours to complete. You do not need to complete each unit the day it opens.

What to expect

Access to the course will be provided on a week-by-week, unit-by-unit basis with each new unit opening on Tuesday at 8:00 AM eastern. Each week a new unit will become available. You will not have access to all units at once. Your 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.

You can work on coursework at any time. The course site will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is expected that you will complete all course work for the assigned unit per week. Each unit will take approximately 2 hours to complete.

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

2023 course syllabus and schedule

January 2023 Introduction to Lakes Course Information

Registration for the 2023 Introduction to Lakes Online course is now closed. Sign-up here to be added to our email list and you will receive a notification when registration opens in the fall. Introduction to Lakes is currently offered once a year.

Continuing Education Credits

The 2023 course was approved for the following credits:


The cost of the course is $115. Financial assistance is available.


Technical Assistance

If you have any technical problems registering, please contact the Michigan State University IT Service Desk from 7am-12am Monday through Friday and 10am-12am on Saturday/Sunday, any day that the University is open.

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

Frequently Asked Registration 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