Towards understanding of student engagement in blended learning: A conceptualization of learning without borders.
Not another paper on student engagement! The topic of student engagement has been reported on for decades and there is a multitude of literature adopting different perspectives and views conceptualizing and defining this topic. The terminology has become commonplace in every day discussion about learning and teaching and people talk about student engagement as if we all understand the same thing by it. With so much research on student engagement and what it means, why is this such a difficult concept to understand? Over the past 5 years at ASCILITE alone there have been 24 papers with engagement in the title. In grappling with understanding the concept of student engagement in our context of distance students in a College of Education, Health and Human Development in Aotearoa New Zealand we reviewed over 66 articles defining or conceptualising student engagement (particularly with a focus on online, distance or blended learning) over the past 10 years. Four of these themselves were systematic literature reviews on the concept (Henrie, Halverson, & Graham, 2015; Nortvig, 2018; Schindler, 2017; Trowler, 2010) and all this did was demonstrate to us that engagement can mean many different things to different people. In their new book Student Engagement in the Digital University, Gourlay and Oliver (2018) in re-theorising the concept, move away from the idea of a definition or framework and instead view student digital engagement as a set of socio-material practices. However, whilst student voices are critical and individual experiences are clearly varied, we are still grappling with what are the mediating variables that influence each student’s engagement with digital learning.