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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let's Get Started By First Posing Some Questions

How is online teaching working out for you? Not so easy is it?

Let’s talk about what can be going wrong when distance education students complain that professors do not know how to teach, and professors claim that students are self-centered, disorganized, insensitive and unresponsive to each other, can’t move beyond lower level comprehension, and seem passive and even aloof.

Here is a question I’ve been trying to answer. Think about it.

If seeing leads to knowing, what must we do to improve teaching and learning in Internet-based classes where students are unable to see each other and to detect others’ motion; eye direction; shared attention; and epistemic mental states such as thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, desires and intentions, which for most students in face-to-face environments self-evidently underlie behavior?

“Social presence,” you say. Could this be a factor in improving distance instructional effectiveness?

Social presence, a sub-area of communication theory, according to Guanwardena and Zittle (1997) is important in online learning because it is a strong predictor of satisfaction with computer-mediated communication.

To fully understand the concept of social presence, it is important to understand the concepts of socialization and presence.

According to Kanwar and Swenson (2000), socialization refers to the “process by which people learn the characteristics of their group and the attitudes, values, and actions thought appropriate for them.”

Jacobson (2001) described presence as “the sense of being caught up in the representation of virtual worlds.”

Richardson and Swan (2003) demonstrated that social presence affects outcomes as well as student and potentially instructor satisfaction with a course.

Research indicates that an interactive online environment is possible when there is commitment on the part of students and the teacher.

Go head. Post a comment now. Post a comment following the presentation. Let’s discuss it!

How committed are you?

What more can we do to overcome not being able to see each in addition to posting introductions with picture and audio recordings of voices? Instant messaging? Adobe Connect Pro™?

What would a comprehensive redesign of course content and materials look like if designed to move students from high need of professor support to independent learners?

What changes must be made to making learning online learner-centered?


Charlotte N. Guanwardena and Frank J. Zittle, "Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction Within a Computer-mediated Conferencing Enviornment." The American Journal of Distance Education 11, (1997): 8-26.

M. Kanwar and Don Swenson, Canadian Sociology (IA: Kendall and Hunt, 2000), 18.

Jennifer C. Richardson and Karen Swan, "Examining Social Presence in Online Courses in Relation to Students' Perceived Learning and Satisfaction," Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7, (2003); 68-88.