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Hybrid courses combine face-to-face and online students in an instructor-led synchronous session supported by internet-based video conferencing. Instructional technology selection models theorize that a minimum level of technical quality as well as two-way interaction between instructors and students are needed to achieve engaging and effective learning in the hybrid context (Caladine, 2008; Huddlestone & Pike, 2008).

The study reported in this paper was conducted in two sections of a hybrid communication course and focused on technical quality and student engagement with the instructor and classmates. A theoretical model of a “learning threshold” was advanced, suggesting that richer media might support higher levels of student engagement. A mixed methods approach was used that incorporated coding ten recorded webinar sessions for instructor and student technical quality and use of video, audio, and chat-window text. A student survey (n = 12) was also used to determine student uses of technology, technical quality, and the level of engagement with the instructor and classmates.

The findings suggest that the hybrid communication courses have fair to high levels of technical quality for both instructor and student connections. Students elected not to share video, but did participate using both audio and text. Despite occasional technical issues with connecting and audio, the majority of students reported they were at least “mostly engaged” with both the professor and classmates.

The interaction occurring in the hybrid sessions examined in this study did support both student-instructor and student-student engagement. The levels of student engagement reported in this study suggest that the hybrid instructional format is a viable option for meeting students’ needs for flexible learning environments that incorporate synchronous meetings.

Publication Date



College of Arts, Sciences and Technology


Educational Technology | Online and Distance Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Technical Quality and Engagement in a Hybrid Communication Course