How to be PRESENT in the

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Nov 14, 2013 (4 years and 1 month ago)

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How to be
PRESENT
in the

Virtual Classroom:

Increasing Social
Presence in


Online
Courses

Jessica Gordon

Curriculum Coordinator in the Department of Focused Inquiry

Overview of Presentation

I:
History of research into Social Presence


II:
Social presence is correlated with student
learning and course satisfaction


III:
Synthesis of published and non
-
published
recommendations for increasing social presence
in small to midsize online classes

and my
opinions


(
emoticon intended, and you will see why)


IV:
Discussion

Two Shifts in Beliefs about Social Presence

Fields and Disciplines

o
FROM field of telecommunications

o
TO applications in education


Understanding of User Agency

o
FROM believing that social presence was defined
and limited by the technology

o
TO believing that users possess the ability to
increase social presence in the technology


Theory of Social Presence (1976)

Short, J.,

Williams, E. & Christie, B. (1976).
The Social Psychology of
Telecommuncations
.

Definition
: “degree
of salience of the other person in a mediated
communication and the consequent salience of their interpersonal
interactions
”.

How
“real” a person
seems
when communicating in a
given medium.



o
Depends on
verbal
and nonverbal cues

o
F
orms
of
media vary in their potential
for social
presence

o
S
ome
forms of media had a
higher potential
for social presence
(video) than others (written word).




Note: Short, Williams and Christie believed
social
presence
was
a
quality of the medium
itself.










Theories that Support Social Presence
as a Quality of Medium Itself

Media Richness
:
Developed by Ronald Rice

(1984, 1986)
:
“Media
richness represents the
extent to which media are able to bridge different frames of reference, make issues less
ambiguous, or provide opportunities for learning in a given time interval, based
on the
medium’s capacity
for immediate feedback, the number of cues and sense involved,
personalization and language
variety.


Redefining Media Richness
:
Trevino,
Lengo

and Daft
(
1987):
Expanded Rice’s theory
and defined “media richness”
as “the potential information sharing
capacity of data
or
simply as the
capacity of information
to provide substantial new understanding” (p. 178).




Like the Theory of Social Presence,
these definitions of “media
richness”
support the belief that social presence is a quality
of the medium

itself and is not
defined
by the user.


The Community of Inquiry Framework:

A Radical Shift in Perception






Signifies a shift toward
believing in one’s own
ability to influence presence

social, teaching
and cognitive



First well
-
known application to education






Garrison, D., 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







Cognitive Presence:
“extent
to
which participants in any
particular configuration of a
community of inquiry are able to
construct meaning through
sustained
communication”


Teaching Presence:

the design,
facilitation, and direction of
cognitive and social processes for
the purpose of realizing
personally meaningful and
educationally worthwhile
learning outcomes



Social Presence:
“the ability of
participants in the Community of
Inquiry to project their personal
characteristics into the
community, thereby presenting
themselves to the other
participants as ‘real people’”







1. What elements are crucial prerequisites for a successful

higher education experience?

2. How can we maintain these crucial components when higher
education is moved online?

Garrison, Anderson and Archer analyzed transcripts of computer conferences
in the field of Education and identified indicators of the three types of
presence. Indicators included keywords, sensations, connections, applications,
forms of expression, etc.

Community of Inquiry Framework

--
cited over 1725 times
--

Garrison, Anderson, and Archer

o
Believe that
faculty can create a community
of inquiry

in face
-
to
-
face and online
classrooms through
maintaining high levels
of presence

cognitive presence, teaching
presence, and social presence.

o
Some of what we know about presence in
face
-
to
-
face classes can be applied to the
online classroom.






Five Studies that Indicate that Student Perception of Social
Presence IS Correlated with Student Course Satisfaction

Gunawardena

and
Zittle

(1997
):

Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction within a Computer
-
Mediated Conferencing Environment


Richardson and Swan (2003):

Examining Social Presence in Online Courses in Relation to
Student’s Perceived Learning and Satisfaction


M.F.
Beaudoin

(2002):

Learning
or Lurking? Tracking the ‘Invisible’ Online Student”



Arbaugh

and
Benbunan
-
Fich

(2007
):

The
Importance of Participant Interaction in Online
Environments


Saiye

Tugba

Bulu

(2012
):

Place Presence
,
Social Presence
,
Co
-
presence
, and
Satisfaction
in
Virtual Worlds


Findings of the Five Studies

All of the studies found significant correlations

between one or more of the following:


o
social presence and student learning

o
social presence and course grades

o
social presence and student course satisfaction

o
perceived social presence and perceived learning


These studies also illuminated other interesting

results which we will discuss in more depth now…

Five Ways to Increase Student and Instructor
Social Presence in Online Classes:

A Synthesis of the Published Literature plus

my Own Examples and Opinions




I.
Maximizing Student
Presence through

Instructor
Modeling of Social Presence Behaviors

II.
Teacher Immediacy: Sharing and Encouraging
Stories

III.
Creating
Social Cues: Encouraging Emoticons and Casual
Language

IV.
Optimizing the Learning Platform for Social
Presence

V.
Virtual Worlds (Second Life) and
Social Presence

Faculty

Must

Model

Social

Presence

Behaviors

Research indicates:

Faculty who teach online college courses must
support learners by understanding that
their
own social presence and social cues are
arguably the most important predictors of
social presence
in the virtual classroom, and
faculty must model those social behaviors

to
their online students.


(Jung,
Choi
, Lim &
Leem
, 2002; Richardson and Swan, 2003; Shea, Pickett,
Pelz
,
2002; Swan and Shih, 2005).


But HOW Should Faculty Model Social
Presence?

First, We Should Exhibit Teacher Immediacy Behaviors

Teacher immediacy is instructor behavior that enhances “closeness

and interaction” and is the “major mechanism mediating teacher

effectiveness” (Anderson, 1978).


How Do We Create Immediacy in the Classroom?

o

Consider the Immediacy Behavior Scale

o

Share Stories and anecdotes (academic and social)


How Should Faculty Model Social Presence?

The Immediacy Behavior Scale

Immediacy Behavior Scale (Verbal & Non
-
verbal Behaviors)

o
McCroskey
, Richmond, Gorham (1987, 1988)

o
Scale describes verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviors
in face
-
to
-
face classes

o
Created for face
-
to
-
face classroom but verbal behaviors
can easily be applied to online environment

o
Faculty Prize these behaviors in the face
-
to
-
face
classroom but the struggle to communicate and teach in
the online environment can often cause us to overlook
the basics.



Sample Verbal Questions on Teacher
Immediacy Behavior


1. Uses personal examples or talks about experience
she/he has had outside of class.

3. Gets into discussions based on something a student
brings up even when this doesn’t seem to be part
of his/her lecture plan.

10. Refers to class as “our class” or what “we” are


doing.

13. Asks how students feel about an assignment, due


date or discussion topic.

16. Asks questions that solicit viewpoints or opinions


A Second Way That Faculty Can Model Social Presence?

Share and Encourage Stories

Garrison, Anderson and Archer suggest that “
self
disclosure
is another example of
emotional
expression

contributing to the development of
social presence”

How natural it is to share stories in the face
-
to
-
face
classroom, before, after and sometimes during
class

and how easy it is to forget to do so when
teaching and learning online.

When? Where? How?


Twitter
--
Facebook
--
Google Hangout for Office Hours

A Third Way to Increase Social Presence:
Creating Social Cues by Encouraging Emoticons,
Paralanguage and Casual Speech

Although our instinct is to ask students to write in formal,
academic language or at the very least, to proofread for typos
and use punctuation according to standard usage guidelines,
the research suggests that this may actually decrease social
presence in online classes.


Research suggests that the use of emoticons and paralanguage
are positively correlated with social presence


(
Gunawardena

and
Zittle

(1997); Garrison, Anderson & Archer
(2000); Whip and Lorentz (2009); Wei, Chen and
Kinshuck

(2012);

Using Paralanguage and Emoticons

Whip and Lorentz (2009) found that teachers with high social presence

in online classrooms “exaggerated punctuation or spelling”.


Whheeeww
!
Or

Here
gooeess



These teachers emphasized words with capital letters and projected

emotions by literally spelling them out
.



I’m excited or Sorry if I sound angry here.


They also projected empathy by naming their responses to student

feelings:


I hear your frustration or That feeling of panic


can be productive




Remember: In the Community of Inquiry framework, the first
category of social presence indicators in the expression of emotion.


Using Social Cues to Increase Social
Presence

Gunawardena

and
Zittle

(1997) found:


“students who experienced higher levels of social
presence were also
more inclined to use
emoticons
(
eg
.,


and

) and
paralanguage in
written form
(
eg
., ‘Hmm,’ ‘Yuk’) to make up for
the lack of social and nonverbal cues that help
create social presence and immediacy in
traditional face
-
to
-
face communication”



Using Social Cues to Increase Social Presence

Wei, Chen and
Kinshuk

(2012) echo all these
findings and claim that “Verbal and non
-
verbal
cues are very important resources for
perceived social presence in online learning
environments (
p
. 539).

They explain that “When learners perceive a
high degree of social cues from other people,
they will get a better perception of social
presence” (
p
. 540).


As a writing teacher myself, I was at
first resistant…


If we encourage the use of emoticons,
do we also
allow students to use text
-
based language
such as that which they commonly use for
texting on the phone? Where do we draw the
line?

What’s the difference between
allowing students
to use informal language during discussion
in
face
-
to
-
face
classes
versus

using
informal
language
such as emotions and paralanguage in
a

discussion board posting
?



A Fourth Way To Increase Social Presence:

Optimizing the Learning Management System
What’s wrong with Blackboard?

Blackboard is a content management system,
not a learning management system.

Blackboard was made for the web 1.0 world


Web 1.0 = top down medium for communication


Web 2.0 = bottom up medium for communication
AND PARTICIPATION in which users can create and
contribute content

Can a Content or Learning Management System
like Blackboard Impact Social Presence?

Wei, Chen and
Kinshuk

(2012), studied whether
user interface and social cues affect learner’s
perceived social presence.

They found that user interface is an important
factor in online learning since social interaction is
facilitated through it. They also found that “user
interface and social cues have significant
influences on social presence. User interface also
has significant effects on social cues” (
p
. 540).

Why Does Blackboard

Lack Social Presence?

In my opinion, one of the biggest

problems with Bb is that

participants lack identity. How

can there be social presence

if no one has an identity?


Even dictionary entries allow

participants to interact and

each participant is identified

by a photo (if
s
/he chooses).

Meriam

Webster definition for “Agency


Everyone Uses Blackboard?

Or Do They?

Early 2000s: Blackboard used by 70
-
85% of
education institutions

In 2011: Blackboard used by over 3700 education
institutions in more than 60 countries

According to Michael Feldstein (2013), Blackboard
-
owned systems are currently the learning
systems of choice at no more than 60% of
American institutions.


Why the Shift?

There are multiple reasons to account for this
shift in use in content/learning management
systems, but one main reason is competition.



Open Source Learning Platforms:
Moodle

& Sakai


Free Applications: Blogs, Wikis and Google Sites


Free User
-
created Social Networking Sites:
Ning
,
Grouply

and Social Go

Virtual Worlds: Second Life

One of the primary reasons that educators are so interested in Second
Life is because it appears to substantially increase student and
teacher presence in online classes.


According to Bowers,
Regas

and Neely (2009),


Web 2.0 tools,
particularly virtual worlds, can help improve traditional distance
learning, which if often rich in content, but
low in interaction
among instructor and learners” (
p
. 327).


In fact, The Horizon Report (2007) concluded that “virtual worlds offer
an opportunity for people to
interact in a way that conveys a sense
of presence

lacking in other media. These spaces…
combine many
of the elements that make Web 2.0 really exciting
: social
networking, the ability to share rich media seamlessly, the ability to
connect with friends,
a feeling of presence
, and a
connection to
the community
” (
p
. 18)

many of the same factors that we have
previously cited as lacking in Blackboard and central to increasing
student and teacher presence.


My Six Major Conclusions

1.
No matter how stressful or demanding the online course, we
must remember to increase teacher immediacy behaviors

say hello, share stories, reveal curiosity about our student’s
lives, etc. We must
be deliberate in acts of presence
, even
friendliness, and not come off like we are content/skill
machines.


1.
We must not forget that
social presence is correlated with
student learning & course satisfaction
. Thus, social presence
matters and we must try to increase and maintain it.


2.
We frequently assume that students know how to behave
online, and while they may have mastered the customs of
Facebook
, they do not believe, or they do not know, that
these customs are often transferable to and desirable in an
academic course.





My Six Major Conclusions

4.
Students simply don’t know how to behave in an online classroom

Because they have never (or almost never) been in one before.


5. Merely telling our students that they must participate in our online class is

not a clear articulation of
how

to engage in an online course; rather, we must


teach students how to be engaged online and how to show signs of


presence
in online courses, just the same as we explain actions that pertain


to social presence in face
-
to
-
face classes
--
to raise their hands when they
have


a question or to try to be quiet when entering the classroom after class


begins.


6. After we accept that our students are novice online learners and don’t


necessarily know how to be socially present,
we must create opportunities


for them to learn how to manifest their presence in online courses
.


References





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Rourke
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, J. B.,
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