Social engagement in distance-, remote-, and hybrid learning


Bergdahl, N. & Hietajärvi, L. (2022). Social engagement in distance-, remote-, and hybrid learning. Journal of Online Learning Research, 8(3), 315-342.


A growing interest has been directed toward including a fourth dimension in the engagement construct: the social di- mension. The aim of this study is twofold: first, to explore how teachers talk about the social dimension of student en- gagement in online learning, and second, to explore the pos- sibilities of using computational methods for interview data analysis. A longitudinal intervention (interview-diary-inter- view) was conducted with teachers who actively teach on- line classes in hybrid, remote, and distance modes of deliv- ery. Natural language processing methods, more specifically topic modelling, were used to extract and analyse topics dis- cussed in the data. Analysis of topic overlap and distinctions were made. Key results reveal that co-creation and shared cognition are core concepts when teachers talk about social engagement. However, results also show that individual en- gagement is critical for social engagement, and that teacher- student interaction can, potentially, be viewed as a separate component. Interestingly, the teachers’ talk also reflected phases in learning such as process and product-based focuses. Following the results, we suggest that computational methods can be combined with traditional (human) analysis to contrib- ute to a richer and more nuanced understanding of abstract topics. Understanding social engagement may inform theory development and is vital for researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers.


  • Lauri Hietajärvi
  • Nina Bergdahl

Reference Type



  • Student engagement