As Moore noted, blending face-to-face meetings with some form of mediated instruction is certainly not a new concept in higher education; but as technology facilitates ever increasing channels through which learning communities can interact, the advantages that this classic model seems to offer in terms of student engagement warrant further consideration from instructors, administrators, and researchers. Certainly, integrating a face-to-face component is not feasible for students who enrol in fully online courses due to geographical or other constraints on physical attendance. Moreover, fully online students bring their own particular needs and strengths to learning environments that may be to some degree compensatory. Nonetheless, and based on this research, it is important to note that critical activities such as student-student discussion may not function the same way across classroom contexts and learning communities.
With this manuscript, we argue that students’ experiences across course formats are influenced by social dynamics and relational performances that influence classroom experiences in powerful ways – these influences render simple comparisons across classroom formats untenable.