In order to better serve students and more efficiently administer online and blended learning at Montana State University, there must be a way to identify online and blended sections in Banner. The appropriate codes already exist in Banner and can be implemented using the following definitions.


Online Course: Any course in which all of the required content and interaction take place online.

Blended Course: This label refers to a course that is conducted partially online and partially through face-to-face (F2F) interaction to serve a primarily off-campus audience. Both online and F2F activities are required, and there is significantly reduced F2F class meeting time in a blended course compared to the equivalent credit classroom course.  

Web-enhanced: Web-enhanced courses are traditionally scheduled face-to-face class meetings enriched by required use of online tools (such as discussion, chat, gradebook, etc.). In a web-enhanced course, there is no reduced classroom time; in a blended course, there is.

Hybrid Program: Sometimes a label is needed for a program that is not fully online. Hybrid can be used to identify a program composed primarily of online courses with a few face-to-face activities such as an orientation or capstone experience.


Truth in advertising/access to information: Students signing up for an online class expect to do all their work online and should know before registering if any real-time attendance or travel is required. Conversely, a student who signs up for an apparently “regular” class may reasonably assume that it will be held in a classroom on a regular schedule. If that schedule will not be followed in a traditional way and/or if significant online work will be required, students deserve to know, particularly those who rely on assistive computer technologies. Finally, coding online sections in Banner will allow students to easily search and find all online classes in a given semester.

Data reporting: Institutional Research and other campus offices are routinely asked to report the number of online and blended sections offered by MSU. These are simple requests, but MSU currently has no reliable way of responding to them. These requests come from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the governor’s office, as well as from such entities as the College Board, Peterson’s Guides, U. S. News & World Report, etc.

Research: There is much interest in the comparative effectiveness of online and blended learning. Consistent identification of course sections using various formats can facilitate research on these issues.

These definitions will be applied during the regular update (schedule-building) process.

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