DEVELOPING SOCIAL PRESENCE IN ONLINE CLASSES
Over the past decade, the Internet has had a profound impact on higher education, enabling the phenomenal growth of online learning. The altered learning environments created by web-based courses not only eliminate barriers of time and space, providing increased access to higher education, they challenge our traditional notions of teaching and learning. A common concern among educators is that the mediated nature of online learning might prevent students from developing the sense that they are interacting with others, which social learning theories suggest supports learning. The antidote to this issue is the development of social presence in online classes. Drawing from her recent co-edited book, Social Presence in Online Learning, Dr. Karen Swan will explore the notion of social presence and its importance to the success of online classes. Attention will be paid to learning designs and teaching strategies that support the development of social presence.
Karen Swan is the Stukel Professor of Educational Research and a Research Associate in the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield. For the past 20 years, she has been teaching online, researching online learning, and writing extensively about her experiences. She received the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, National University Technology Network (NUTN) Distinguished Service Award, and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award for her work in this area. She is also an OLC Fellow and a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.
- What is social presence?
- “Social Presence: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?“
- The degree in which one is perceived as a “real person” in medicated communication.
- Social Presence = Quality of a Medium – There is a range of media from text to video to provide an element of immediacy.
- Social Presence Theory, Media Richness Theory, Affective Channel Capacity
- Social Presence in e-Learning Article
- Tips: Use names when communicating with students online. Sharing social experiences. Sharing interactions and personalities. Ability to project identities.
- Community of Inquiry Framework – Social / Cognitive / Teaching Presence
- Social presence translates to actual learning, perceived learning, and higher satisfaction of students in courses.
- Quality Matters is helpful in the “design” of the course. Whereas, COI is social constructivist measures “during” the course.
- Social presence is a mediating variable between teaching and cognitive presence.
- Verbal immediacy behaviors can lesson the psychological distance in online classes.
- Use ice breakers and initial courses activities to encourage trust
- Model the use of verbal social presence indicators
- Encourage students to engage and share their course experiences.
- Student learning is related to quantity and quality of postings in online discussions.
- Use discussions as a requirement in grading
- Use rubrics
- Require students to respond to other students
- Stress unique nature of discussions in student orientations
- Learning occurs socially within communities of practice.
- Course design can increase social presence. You need a place for students to interact.
- Include multiple opportunities for discussion
- Timely feedback in assignments and tests
- Instructors develop social presence through their interactions with students in a variety of activities.
- Assessment feedback.
- Audio feedback.
- Reference student activities in feedback.
- The quality and quantity of instructor interactions with students is linked to student learning.
- Clear expectations
- Provide timely and supportive feedback
- Establish communication expectations as far as instructor response time for email, etc.
- Instructor social presence and social presence of peers are unique.
- Instructor social presence related to perceived learning
- Student social presence is related to student satisfaction
- Social presence develops over time.
- Model use and sustain over time throughout the course
- Greater learning from scaffolding.
- Vicarious interaction in online course discussion may be an important source of learning. AKA Lurkers who read and not post still learn.
- Students will do what you expect them to do. If you treat them like prisoners they will not perform. Trust your students. Incorporate social elements in a variety of technology mediums from synchronous to asynchronous – from email to announcements to text in a variety of methods – text, audio, photo, videos.
Media alone doesn’t establish social presence, people do, yet we need to deliberately support the development of social presence by leveraging media and technologies to expand learning because we know learning is a social process.