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Unit 4-3

Page history last edited by Gary Motteram 9 years, 4 months ago


Working together online: social presence


We have asked you to reflect generally on your perceptions of yourself as an online interactor. As we've suggested, interaction is argued to be central to online learning paradigms. Moreover, much research has exploited the fact that the technologies of online communications allow us to 'observe' participation, interaction and collaboration. The research of Garrison and Anderson and colleagues, which we have already encountered, focussed, for example, on the exchanges in asynchronous forums.


A good overview article that enables you to put Garrison et al's work in perspective is the following: Cui, G., Lockee, B. and Meng, C. (2012) Building modern online social presence: A review of social presence theory and its instructional design implications for future trends, Education and Information Technologies, published online in March.


This is another general introductory chapter that gives you a broad picture of the area: Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). The evolution and influence of social presence theory on online learning. In T. T. Kidd (Ed.),  Online education and adult learning: New frontiers for teaching practices. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.


These are two other recent general articles:

Kim, J., Kwon. Y. and Cho, D. (2011) Investigating factors that influence social presence and learning outcomes in distance higher education. Computers & Education, 57(2): 1512-1520. 


Slagter van Tryon, P. J. and Bishop, M. J. (2009)  Theoretical foundations for enhancing social connectedness in online learning environments. Distance Education, 30(3): 291-315.


There are also studies that deal with the topic in relation to video conferencing: Lowden, R. J. and Hostetter, C. (2012) Access, utility, imperfection: The impact of videoconferencing on perceptions of social presence. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2): 377-383. This is set in higher education, but not directly about teaching. What is interesting is how they start with research into online teaching and move into the business domain. 


One specifically about language learning and focuses on the very specific area of eye contact: Müge Satar, H. (2013) Multimodal language learner interactions via desktop videoconferencing within a framework of social presence: Gaze. ReCALL, 25(1): 122-142. 


This one raises the issue of whether interactive or more self-paced learning is better: Hsieh, P-A. J. and Cho, V. (2011) Comparing e-Learning tools’ success: The case of instructor–student interactive vs. self-paced toolsComputers & Education, 57(3): 2025-2038.


One about Second Life from Gilly Salomon whose ideas we considered in the Unit 3: Salmon, G. (2009) The future for (second) life and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3): 526-538.


There are plenty of other articles if you search on Google Scholar :-)


Now let's critique this a little further. In Unit 3 we introduced you to the teaching presence component of this model and outlined how this research gives us some insights into online tutor activities within discussion forum spaces principally, though of course we need to think about its application in other CMC tools. This alongside Salmon's work provides starting points in terms of the types of tutor techniques and strategies that we might apply specifically to this environment.


The expanded model identifies the interaction between teaching presencesocial presence and cognitive presence. Here is the template that you saw in Unit 3 for ease of reference.

Community of enquiry coding template


This model is clearly based on assumptions about participation. The argument is that it is possible to identify evidence of learners reaching higher levels of cognitive engagement as they work with others in their community, supported by teacher activity which enhances the conditions for such interaction. Social presence is understood as a fundamental component.


Before we come to some final applied thinking around these thoughts, we need to explore the specific dimensions around social presence, and in doing that, we encourage you to again use your own awareness of being an online learner to help you to engage critically with the ideas.




Unit 4 -- Task 2: Reading and reflection


Here are four papers, which we hope will prompt some reflection. Interact with these texts with a critical eye, as you would usually do.


Then move to the final section of this unit to consider applying some of the ideas.


The first explores a hypothesised relationship between social presence and student perception of learning.

Richardson, J. and Swan, K. (2003) Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students' perceived learning and satisfactionJournal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7(1): 68-88.


The second considers the concept of social presence in relation to the specific cultural group of Chinese learners. Consider how this relates to your own cultural context or that of your learners.

Tu, C.H. (2001) How Chinese Perceive Social Presence: An Examination of Interaction in Online Learning EnvironmentEducation Media International 38(1): 45-60. Tu has written other articles about social presence that you might like to cinsider if yu want to take these ideas further


The third identifies issues relating to participation online.

Hammond, M. (1999) Issues associated with participation in on line forums- the case of the communicative learner. Education and Information Technologies 4(4): 353-367.


The final one is written by Diane Slaouti about this very course unit. It reports her own analysis of one cohort's participation and reflections on learning and identifies some of the challenges of designing tasks that aim to bring students together in a distance/online context.

Slaouti, D. (2007). Teacher learning about online learning: experiences of a situated approachEuropean Journal of Teacher Education, 3(3): 353-367.


I would like you to get together again in your re-worked 6 degrees groups (same as for Unit 3), each pick an article to read and then discuss what are the key issues are that come out from your discussion. Then agree a summary and post your ideas on the forum for this activity.


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