Cultivating Teaching Presence and Social Presence Through Multimedia Intervention

Cultivating Teaching Presence and Social Presence Through Multimedia Intervention

Wanju Huang (Purdue University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5074-8.ch007


This chapter examines the influence of weekly check-in videos on students' learning and their perceptions of a learning community within an online graduate-level course. The weekly check-in videos provided in the examined course were created using a systematic approach – a series of items that aim to enhance learning and the idea of learning community. Student feedback was collected through a questionnaire that included seven open-ended questions and the Community of Inquiry survey. Video view counts and students' discussion board interactions were also utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of the videos. The positive feedback from the data reiterates that online students need to feel connected with their peers, instructor, and the institution and benefits from more personal learning experiences. The chapter also provides suggestions and strategies for how to use weekly check-in videos to build a learning community in an online course.
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Creating a Community of Inquiry (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001), where students feel supported by the instructor and connected with their peers, is essential to high quality online learning experiences and outcomes. The two major elements of a Community of Inquiry are teaching presence and social presence. Teaching presence refers to an instructor’s course design and facilitation. Social presence references the sense of belonging that can be created within an online course. Researchers and practitioners of online learning have advocated for using discussion assignments or small group projects to enhance students’ interaction while addressing social presence and teaching presence within an online course. Using this design, student – student interaction develops organically. However, it is not uncommon to see some students’ discussion posts receive significant attention while others are overlooked. This indicates purposeful facilitation is needed.

The author of this study argues there is a need to intentionally and strategically enhance student interaction within an online course to build a learning community where all learners within the course feel connected and engaged. The intervention implemented in this study is a weekly check-in video.

The weekly check-in video clips consist of four major elements: (1) an overview of the learning content and discussion topics; (2) specific students’ discussion board posts that the instructor selected and chose to highlight; (3) assignment reminders; and (4) an engaging conclusion (e.g., encouraging words from the instructor, campus photos or fun facts about the institution). The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which an instructor can cultivate the development of a learning community through weekly check-in videos within an online course. Research questions include:

  • 1.

    How do an instructor’s weekly check-in videos affect students’ interactions within the discussion forums?

  • 2.

    How do an instructor’s weekly check-in videos cultivate the development of a learning community?

  • 3.

    How do an instructor’s weekly check-in videos influence students’ perceived relationships with the institution?

This chapter includes the following sections: (1) a literature review on the Community of Inquiry, its development and its role in online courses, as well as strategies for promoting high quality interaction in discussions; (2) a case study that examines the effectiveness of weekly check-in videos in developing a Community of Inquiry and enhancing engagement in discussions; and (3) the implications of this study for course design and online student support.



Community of Inquiry

Making online courses more engaging, interactive and empowering has long been a goal of online instructors, course designers and administrators. Researchers have repeatedly suggested that building a Community of Inquiry in online courses is absolutely vital to this end (Choi & Kang, 2010; Garrison et al., 2000, 2001; Lietzau & Mann, 2009; Smyth, 2005, 2011; Smyth & Zanetis, 2007). The framework for Community of Inquiry includes: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence (Garrison et al., 2000, 2001). Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities” (Garrison, 2009, p. 352). Teaching presence is defined as “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes” (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). Cognitive presence is regarded as “the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse” (Garrison et al., 2001, p. 11).

The focus of this chapter is to explore social presence and teaching presence and their roles in developing a learning community. The intersection of social presence and teaching presence is referred to as “instructor presence” by Richardson et al. (2015). They define instructor presence as “the specific actions and behaviors taken by the instructor that project him/herself as a real person … socially and pedagogically in an online community, and would fall at the intersection of teaching presence and social presence within the CoI framework” (Richardson et al., 2015, p. 259).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Video Feedback: Information regarding learners’ performance or understanding delivered through video clips.

Teaching Presence: The instructional activities that convey an instructor’s teaching and guidance to help students to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Community of Inquiry Survey: A questionnaire developed based on the CoI framework to measure the effectiveness of online learning environments.

Online Learning: Instruction delivered through the Internet either synchronously or asynchronously.

Social Presence: A sense of belonging and connection, cultivated and maintained by the instructor and students within a course.

Asynchronous Online Discussion: A form of discussion that happens asynchronously (not in real time) in an online environment where discussion prompts are provided to facilitate communication and collaboration among participants.

Instructor Presence: The intersection of social presence and teaching presence in which an instructor presents in a sociable manner while providing pedagogical guidance.

Community of Inquiry (CoI): A collaborative-constructivist framework that advocates creating meaningful online learning experiences through three dimensions including teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence.

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