Revisiting the Online Classroom: A Study on Instructors and Peers Affecting Students’ Engagement

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Coronavirus pandemic has changed the classrooms globally. Due to the pandemic, the online classroom plays a vital role in education systems instead of the traditional classroom. However, there are some difficulties that learners have to deal with which affect their satisfaction and engagement. This study aims to survey the critical aspects of instructors and student peers on the students’ engagement. In particular, interactions (instructor-student interaction and peer interaction), social presence, and communication channels that meet students’ needs to foster effective online learning were observed. The online questionnaires were used to capture student attitudes, experience, and broad insights into synchronous online learning. Results suggested that interaction with instructors and peers tended to positively impact students’ engagement (x̅ = 4.49, S.D = 0.82, and x̅ = 4.02, S.D = 1.12, respectively). Moreover, instructor presence tended to have a higher impact on students’ engagement than peer presence (x̅ = 4.00, S.D = 1.24 for the instructor presence, and x̅ = 3.36, S.D = 1.30 for the peer presence, respectively). Finally, it was found that the most favorite communication channels with instructors were chat applications (i.e. Line), e-mail and mobile phones, respectively. Additionally, the favorite communication channels with peers were chat applications (i.e. Line), social media (i.e. Facebook and Instagram), and mobile phones. These study findings should benefit the classroom design on choosing suitable activities and interactive tools to increase student engagement in an online learning environment.

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