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Factors affecting students’ engagement with online content in blended learning

Alka Dwivedi (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, India)
Prasoom Dwivedi (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, India)
Samo Bobek (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia)
Simona Sternad Zabukovšek (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 14 June 2019

Issue publication date: 19 September 2019




Increasing use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education has, along with other consequences, shifted the context from teacher-centric to student-centric. These changes pose fresh challenges to the prevalent education systems all over the world, which already have fallen short of the expectations. The purpose of this study is to show that e-learning is not only about ICT following a holistic approach to learning which embeds systemic approach and learning loops but also about students and teacher’s actions in ICT-enabled learning environment. This study investigates the importance of engagement of students and teachers in blended learning with a focus on factors which affect this engagement.


Based on systems theory and socio-technological approach to e-learning, the paper documents an experiment which was carried out in a higher education institution. Postgraduate students of one course were divided into two groups. Instructor of the first group was not required to engage with the online content and had to deliver his course in a traditional face-to-face format. Instructor of the second group continuously spent time on the learning management system (LMS), developing more content, participating in online discussions and responding to students. LMS tracked the online activity of both the instructors, and semi-structured interviews of students were conducted.


Based on behaviour of 152 students of a postgraduate programme, students’ time spent online is directly proportional to the instructor’s online time, promptness of instructor’s response to online activities queries of students increased student engagement, the students’ engagement increases if the online content is related to the syllabus but engagement is not the same as the face-to-face lectures in the class.

Research limitations/implications

The research was conducted in India and is based on the behaviour of instructors and students in India. It was focussed on engagement issues of blended learning, while other issues of blended learning have not been in the focus of the research.

Practical implications

The research is important for the practice of higher education, and the result of the study can be taken into consideration while developing online courses for students enrolled in higher education.

Social implications

If higher education institutions take a strategic decision to use ICT in e-learning, engagements of participants and factors affecting engagement are crucial for the better quality of education. In such a way, blended learning fulfils requirements of a holistic approach to learning.


Despite the fact that e-learning as a way to deliver academic content has been extensively researched, there are not many studies focussed on engagement issues in blended learning, and even fewer studies have been conducted in an experimental way which allow in-depth research.



Dwivedi, A., Dwivedi, P., Bobek, S. and Sternad Zabukovšek, S. (2019), "Factors affecting students’ engagement with online content in blended learning", Kybernetes, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 1500-1515.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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