The Value of Social Presence in Developing Student Satisfaction and Learning Outcomes in Online Environments

The Value of Social Presence in Developing Student Satisfaction and Learning Outcomes in Online Environments

Michael Marmon (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6461-6.ch006
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As humanity continues into the twenty-first century, online or distance education is emerging as a viable alternative to the learning that is occurring in traditional university-level learning environments. While there is little difference in the quality of learning and information being presented between these two methods, there are distinct differences in the interactions occurring between students and instructors. Specifically, the presence of physical geographic distance creates a feeling of isolation in the minds of the students participating in these online learning environments. This chapter examines the concept of isolation through the lens of Moore's Transactional Distance Theory, which offers an explanation for why such attitudes permeate in this method of instructing students. Moreover, by discussing the history of the medium and the importance of Moore's Transactional Distance Theory, it is possible determine the best practices and procedures for creating a feeling of social presence in online learning environments.
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Defining Distance Education: Moore's Theory Of Transactional Distance

Moore's Theory of Transactional Distance offers a context by which to understand the impact that isolation has on the process that is online learning in post-secondary learning environments. Moore (1993) explains the concept of transactional distance is that distance education should not simply be viewed as “a geographic separation” between the primary stakeholders (students and their instructors), rather, it is a “pedagogical concept” that carries several implications for online education (p. 22). In particular, distance in online education regardless of the physical distance establishes a defined chasm between the instructor and their students that must be overcome for effective learning to occur. Moore (1991) defines this separation as a transactional distance that is the “physical separation that causes a psychological and communications gap” which in turn results in the “potential misunderstanding between the inputs of instructor and those of the learner, and this referred to as the transactional distance.” (p. 3)

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