Online presence of information and services is pervasive. Teaching and learning are no exception. Courseware management systems play an important role in enhancing instructional delivery for either traditional day, full-time students or non-traditional evening, party-time adult learners enrolled in online programs. While online course management tools are with no doubt practical, they limit, however, live or synchronous communication to "chat" rooms, whose discourse has little in common with face-to-face class communication. A more recent trend in online teaching and learning is the adoption and integration of web conferencing tools to enable live online classrooms and recreate the ethos of traditional face-to-face sessions.

In this paper we present the experience we have had with the adoption of the LearnLinc® web conferencing tool, an iLinc Communications, Inc. product. We have coupled LearnLinc with Blackboard®, for the online and hybrid computer science courses we offered in the past academic year in the evening undergraduate and graduate computer science programs at Rivier College. Twelve courses, enrolling over 150 students, have used the synchronous online teaching capabilities of LearnLinc. Students who took courses in the online or hybrid format could experience a comparable level of interaction, participation, and collaboration as in traditional classes.

We solicited student feedback by administering a student survey to over 100 students. The 55% response rate produced the data for this paper's study. We report on the study's findings and show students' rankings of evaluation criteria applied to hybrid and online instructional formats, with or without a web conferencing tool. Our analysis shows that students ranked favorably LearnLinc live sessions added to Blackboard-only online classes. In addition, how they learned in live online classrooms was found to be the closest to the hybrid class experience with regard to teaching practices they perceived as most important to them, such as seeking instructor's assistance, managing time on task, and exercising problem solving skills.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceedings of the 8th ACM SIGITE conference on Information technology education


ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)

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Copyright © 2016, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.


© 2016, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in Proceedings of the 8th ACM SIGITE conference on Information technology education,