Part one examined the confusion about what is and what isn't a traditional classroom course. Part two will take a look at what is a hybrid or blended course. Part three (coming soon) will look at the new ideas about what is an online course.
Within MnSCU, media code 09 has been used for many years to represent those courses that fall into the following description:
- 1. Course blends online and face-to-face delivery.
- 2. Some of the content is delivered online.
- 3. More than two class sessions face-to-face.
- 4. Reduced classroom seat time.
- 5. Also know as "web-enhanced."
The Minnesota Online website is designed to serve distance learners and others interested in learning through the online offerings from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The website does not provide information about the blended course offerings. I believe that the main reason for this is to not confuse the issue about which courses and programs can be completed by a true distance student and those that require a significant amount of time on site.
MnSCU allows institutions to separately determine their tuition rates for online courses. This is known in the system as a "market-rate" tuition. The idea of market-rate tuition does not extend to blended courses. Blended courses will be charged the base tuition rate for each institution rather than the campus-determined market rate for online tuition, although campus exceptions are possible if a course falls into an expensive (to offer) program that has a higher tuition rate than the base.
One thing that MnSCU has never dealt with is the question of how much reduced seat time is appropriate for a blended course. Doing some simple math, here is what I come up with given that there are no other restrictions:
-- 1) a course must meet a minimum of three times to be considered a blended course. Consider the minimum to be 3 hours of meeting time out of the normal 48 hours for a 3-credit course. Therefore, a course could be 6% classroom (3/48) and 94% online and fit the MnSCU definition.
-- 2) To be blended, it has to have reduced seat-time, but apparently that could be as little as one fewer course meeting than normal. So, a course could meet 98% in the classroom and 2% (1/48) online and be considered a blended course.
-- 3) In other words, in lieu of other guidance (there isn't any), a blended course could be anywhere from 2% to 94% online with the rest of the instruction delivered on-ground in the classroom.
I really thought that since MnSCU is going through the exercise (again) of trying to define all of these delivery methods (media codes for the MnSCU-ers out there), that they would also try to build a little definition into the possible range for blended courses. For example, the University of Illinois Chicago defines blended as being between 25% - 74% online. It appears as though Central New Mexico CC stipulates a 50-50% breakdown between classroom and online for blended courses. The Florida Distance Learning task force recommends that a blended course be conducted at least 50% and not more than 79% online.
To sum up, blended courses in MnSCU:
- don't get charged the $5 per credit fee.
- don't appear in course search results at MnOnline website.
- are charged the base tuition rate.
- receive no guidance about how much or how little instruction must occur in the classroom.
CC photo by wheredidyoubuythat.com