FROM HYBRID TO VIRTUAL COURSE: INTERACTION ACTIVITIES DESIGN, LEARNERS´ ACTIVE PARTICIPATION AND SOCIAL PRESENCE

M. Osnaya-Moreno, O.Y. Zúñiga-Hernández, C. Barona-Ríos

Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (MEXICO)
The Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, in México, has implemented hybrid courses for undergraduate educational careers. The aim of this paper is to analyze the process experienced by 22 students who, due to COVID-19 pandemic, transited from a face-to-face to hybrid educational system and finally had to migrate to a full virtual educational system in order to course second and third semesters; all this process was done in 15 weeks.

Three aspects were analyzed:
1) The design of interaction activities to migrate from face-to-face to online sessions.
2) Learners’ active participation in online sessions through all the semester
3) Student’s social presence in online sessions.

The research has shown
1) online learning can be as effective as face-to-face courses, but only if learners are provided well-designed interaction activities (Hawkins, Graham, Sudweeks, & Barbour, 2013; Joksimović, Gašević, Kovanović, Riecke, & Hatala, 2015).
2) Croxton (2014) found that purposefully designed and engaging interaction tasks played a significant role in learner persistence in online courses.
3) The learners’ active participation in online sessions, which is associated with high levels of learner performance and higher retention rates (Bettinger et al., 2016; Goggins & Xing, 2016; Hrastinski, 2008; Stoessel et al., 2015) were measured with the Bradley, Thom, Hayes,and Hay’s (2008) coding scheme.
4) Social presence was defined as students' ability to socially engage with an online learning community.

Results show that the purpose-designed activities (designed to promote interaction and content analysis), a high quantity and quality of discussion postings, the quality of conversations and the social presence resulted in an increased likelihood and, therefore, course completion and learner’s achievements. The first activities began at an identifying and classifying information level and gradually transited to case analysis and propose interventions. Student’s participations began by just expressing how they liked others’ participations and gradually improved to analyze the participation’s content and to help enhancing others’ participations and postings. Social presence was the less developed, although it was raised.