Instructor-Driven Strategies for Establishing and Sustaining Social Presence

Instructor-Driven Strategies for Establishing and Sustaining Social Presence

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9582-5.ch012
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The purpose of this chapter is to provide readers with strategies and techniques to enhance social interaction/presence within the online learning environment. A discussion of current definitions and the importance of social media will be discussed, as well as examples for use in the online classroom. Proven effective and interactive instructional components (i.e., instructor response time, video lecturing, and pedagogical considerations) are included as best practices and quality assurance guidelines. Topics in this chapter include types of social media tools available, examples of appropriate use in higher education, and recommended strategies to assist faculty in identifying the best tool to match the pedagogical goal. With a wide variety of experiences and knowledge regarding the topic, the authors provide unique perspectives including: teaching in the online environment, instructional design, oversight of online programs, technology training/user services, quality assurance, and faculty/student support.
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Social presence has many definitions but literature and recent research shows the lack of a consistent definition. Short, Williams, and Christie (1976), often considered the genitors of social presence theory, define social presence as the “degree of salience of the other person in the interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal relationships” (p.65). Tu (2000, 2001) states that in the online environment, social presence rests upon three dimensions: social context (task orientation, privacy, topics, social relationships and social process), online communication, and interactivity. In general, important aspects of social presence, as they relate to the current discussion, include sense of community, awareness of others in an interaction, immediacy and intimacy of social interactions (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Rice, 1993; Tu & McIssac, 2002; Walther, 1992).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Learning/Course: A context for learning in which students interact using technology and do not meet in a physical classroom with the instructor ( ).

Distance Learning: Learning that occurs when the instructor and students are separated by physical distance and technology is used to bridge the instructional bap (Boaz, et. al., 1999).

Social Presence: The “degree of salience of the other person in the interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal relationships” (Short, Williams & Christie, p. 65).

Digital Media: Audio, video and images that exist in a computer-readable format, and can reside on a local device (CD, DVD, hard drive) or remote location (website) ( ).

Quality Assurance: The maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery or production ( ).

Microblogging: Posting short updates such as brief texts, photos, etc. on a personal blog, especially by using a mobile phone or instant messaging software.

Social media: Any medium that enables connectivity and interaction among users and communities ( Haenlein, 2010 ).

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