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Online vs Blended Courses

Online Courses 

Online courses are good choices for people seeking flexible scheduling because much of the work can be completed wherever the student can find the time and connectivity needed. At NIU, we follow the guidelines set forth by the Higher Learning Commission and define an online course "as one in which 75 percent or more of the instruction is offered by distance education." NIU’s online courses are designed by content and technology experts who follow the most current and rigorous quality standards. At NIU, online learning is not impersonal. Each course uses technology-enhanced approaches, such as online discussions, small group activities and blogs.

However, online courses, even those marked 100 percent online, can require students to participate in synchronous meetings, meaning that all students have to be online at a specific date and time. Students considering online courses should read the notes published in the course section description on myNIU to check for the requirements of synchronous sessions.

Online Programs

Online programs have a majority of their courses meeting the online definition described above. Online programs may even have some courses that are totally delivered in a face-to-face format or blended format. This situation is often found in programs that require lab, clinical, field and/or studio work. Students considering such programs should read the requirements of the program carefully and ask the program chair or coordinator about any requirements to attend sessions in person.

Blended Courses

Blended Courses have 50 percent to 75 percent of their content delivered online and require some face-to-face meetings. Programs offered through NIU may schedule their face-to-face sessions at one of our regional centers or at other locations across the northern Illinois region. Face-to-face gatherings allow you to work more closely with your professor, your peers or visiting experts while much of the course is delivered online to give you more flexibility in scheduling. Students living far from the planned meeting site should ask the program chair, the instructor or the adviser if there are alternative ways to attend the face-to-face sessions using technology. These discussions should take place before enrolling in a program or a course to avoid barriers to program completion.

Blended Programs 

Blended Programs have more than 50 percent of their courses offered as blended courses and/or traditional face-to-face classes. Many of these programs require field, studio or lab work that must be completed at a specific location. Students considering such programs should read the requirements of the program carefully and ask the program chair or coordinator about the requirements to attend sessions in person or to enroll in face-to-face courses.

Web-Enhanced Courses

Courses with less than 50 percent of the content delivered in an online format are called web-enhanced and will not be listed as an online or blended course. The notes section in myNIU will describe the percentage of coursework that will be delivered online. Web-enhanced courses can be part of a program considered an online program as described above.