Bridging the Gap with Distance Education Students: Telepresence

Bridging the Gap with Distance Education Students: Telepresence

Alaattin Parlakkilic (Gülhane Military Medical Academy, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5162-3.ch020
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Abstract

Presence, a sense of “being there,” is critical to the success of designing, teaching, and learning at a distance using both synchronous and asynchronous (blended) technologies. Until recently, presence has been defined and discussed in terms of behavioral or cognitive theory. Emotional aspects of presence have been largely ignored. A theory of presence must incorporate emotions and take into consideration their interaction with behavior and cognition. In order to create, convey, and/or experience a sense of presence, it is necessary to become familiar with and take into consideration the types, modes, determinants, and dimensions of presence. In addition, it is important to recognize that when others sense your existence, it may enhance your individual sense of presence and your differentiation of self and experience of self. Further, continuing to experience and practice with technologies, in groups and sharing with others, a sense of presence will most likely increase. Presence will also be affected by expectations based on prior experience; as expectations rise, it refines ways in which presence can be experienced. Throughout this process, trust and support are critical. The concept of presence has been conceptualized differently across various theoretical models. Different dimensions of the presence in the literature can be grouped in three main categories as (place) presence, social presence, and co-presence. Presence is explored in this chapter.
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Categories Of Presence In Distance Education

Lombard and Ditton (1998) have defined presence as ‘the perceptual illusion of non-mediation’. Here the sense of presence provides the user with an illusion that the experience is non-mediated. Romano et al say that it is possible to have a high level of presence in a virtual environment without stimulating every sensory system of humans. Many current virtual environments successfully generate a sense of presence by stimulating only the visual and audio senses since constructing a fully immersive virtual environment is expensive (Romano et al, 1998).

Slater et al classifies presence into personal presence and shared presence. Personal presence is the sense of ‘been there’, and having a feeling of presence yourself. Personal presence has two manifestations: subjective presence that is about ’being there’. One can think of subjective presence as ‘being a verbal and necessarily conscious articulation of a state of mind’. The other is behavioral presence, being in the environment, and exhibit behavior to support this. This can be seen as ‘automatic, unplanned non conscious bodily responses’ to stimuli. Shared presence is the feeling of presence in others in the virtual environment. It has two aspects: the sense of presence of other individuals in the virtual environment, and the sense of being part of a group and a process (Slater, Steed, McCarthy & Maringelli, 1998).

Presence is an important practice for an online course. Garrison, Anderson, and Archer described three types of presence. Presence is most closely related to student satisfaction and belief that a course is effective. Here are descriptions of the three presences and how they interact and work within the teaching and learning experiences of an online course:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative tools: A number of additional tools can be incorporated into a telepresence environment for organizations that need more sophisticated collaboration capabilities.

Shared Presence: Shared presence is the feeling of presence in others in the virtual environment.

Presence Pedagogy: The new pedagogy preparing students as global citizens by providing opportunities for active learning, interactive experiences, access to subject matter experts, collaborative projects, peer and social exchanges, and a deepened understanding of global diversity and interconnectedness.

Personal Presence: Personal presence is the sense of ‘been there’, and having a feeling of presence yourself.

Social Presence: Social presence is a community of inquiry model that students project their personal characteristics into the discussion as real people that the trust - building process is established at the social level so that content discussions can be open and substantive.

Telepresence: An interactive video communication that simulates a traditional face-to-face environment by using interactive media technologies.

Teaching Presence: Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes.

Virtual Education: Virtual education refers to instruction in a learning environment where teacher and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the teacher provides course content through course management applications, multimedia resources, the Internet, videoconferencing, etc. Students receive the content and communicate with the teacher via the same technologies.

Cognitive Presence: Cognitive Presence is a presence that requires to observe own learning and how to build and confirm meaning.

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