Online and Blended Programs Explained

In today’s educational environment, “online” and “blended” mean different things.  Here’s NIU’s description.


  • Online Courses are optimal for people seeking flexible scheduling as they complete courses at home, at work during breaks, or at the local coffee shop.  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.  There might be “synchronous” online meetings where people must be present online at the same time but such sessions do not require travel to another location. Each of these forms of interaction has been shown to support student
  • Online Programs include only courses that can be completed fully online, without physical meetings.


  • Blended Courses combine online delivery with occasional (1-3) face-to-face sessions offered at one of our state-of-the-art NIU Outreach Centers (Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Rockford), 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 most of the course is delivered online to give you more flexibility in scheduling
  • Blended Programs include two or more of the following course formats: (a) online courses; (b) blended courses; or (c) traditional face-to-face classes.