What is Social Presence? why do I want it? and how do I create it?
What is social presence as defined by the Community of Inquiry model and how can it be used to enhance the online learner experience and to create an effective and engaging online teaching and learning environment? What are some practical examples of how the indicators of social presence can be expressed in an online course? How can you effectively cultivate online group cohesion, and incorporate affective elements, and promote positive interaction in your online instruction?

Communities of Inquiry – the CoI model http://communitiesofinquiry.com/model

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. pdf Full Text

  1. Social presence
  2. Teaching presence
  3. Cognitive presence

What is Social Presence?

  1. Affective Expression
  2. Interaction
  3. Group Cohesion

1. Affective Expression

Why do i want it?

To support and facilitate social interaction in an online web-based teaching and learning environment…

  1. So students can get to know each other.
  2. So students will feel a sense of belonging in the course.
  3. To establish a sense of class community.  So students will establish trust with you and their classmates – so you can  move on to teaching and cognitive presences.
  4. So students can form distinct impressions of others in the course – so students feel those they interact with are “real.”

how do I create it?

  1. Use emotions, humor, self-disclosure (appropriately – based on who you are.) This is NOT the same as being “chummy” with your students. Model it in your welcome, introductions, interactions, discussions. Use your interactions (in “voice”, “tone”, with images) to convey your personality to help students form distinct impressions of you and to encourage them to do the same.
  2. Leverage course profiles – photos, interests, etc.
  3. Create spaces for social interaction in the course.
  4. Create opportunities for non-course related interactions. Examples: a bulletin board (virtual coffee house), a suggestion box, etc.
  5. Create an introductory discussion/interaction to give students a chance to get to know each other – give the introductory discussion more depth by framing it with questions about prior knowledge of the course and expectations.


2. Interaction

Why do i want it?

To support a sense of open communication in your online teaching and learning environment.

  1. So that students feel comfort conversing online
  2. So that students feel comfortable participating in discussion
  3. So that students feel comfortable interacting with you and their classmates

how do I create it?

  1. Start the course with an introductory discussion at the beginning of the course. Provide models and timely feedback.
  2. Provide explicit expectations about interaction. Example, http://etap640.edublogs.org/2009/12/17/my-discussion-post-grading-rubric
  3. Ask questions. End each post in your discussions with a question, so that the conversation continues and so that you can get the students to dig deeper. As the instructor you risk halting discussions when you contribute. By asking a probing question at the end of your posts you can continue a thread of discussion to promote and create additional depth in the interaction.
  4. Quote directly from a previous post in a discussion.
  5. Refer explicitly to others by name in the discussion.
  6. Express compliments and appreciation. Never underestimate your power. If you have high expectations, your student will rise to them.
  7. Express agreement.

3. Group Cohesion

Why do i want it?

To create a sense of class community in your online teaching and learning environment.

  1. So students will feel comfortable disagreeing with you and with classmates in the course. This requires a sense of trust, which requires that students understand what is expected and permitted in the class.
  2. Where their point of view is acknowleged by others in the course.
  3. Where discussion is used to help students build a sense of collaboration in the course – where they feel they are positively contributing to the sense-making in the course for themselves and their classmates.

how do I create it?

  1. Provide expectations for interactions, including netiqutte. Provide examples and models to insure understanding. Give students permission to disagree and show the how to do that.
  2. Model the behaviors yourself.
  3. “Speak” to them. Use salutations in your posts. Refer to students by name in your posts. Use inclusive pronouns.
  4. Give students ample opportunities to interact with you, the content, and each other.
  5. Let students do the work.
  6. Let students help each other. Example Create an ask a question area – where students can help each other.
  7. Let students peer evaluate each others’ work.

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