Social Presence in Online Learning: Multiple Perspectives on Practice and Research

Social Presence in Online Learning: Multiple Perspectives on Practice and Research


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Published in Association with The Online Learning Consortium.

Social presence continues to emerge as a key factor for successful online and blended learning experiences. It is commonly described as the degree to which online participants feel connected to one another. Understanding social presence—with its critical connections to community-building, retention, and learning outcomes—allows faculty and instructional designers to better support and engage students. This volume, Social Presence in Online Learning, addresses the evolution of social presence with three distinct perspectives, outlines the relevant research, and focuses on practical strategies that can immediately impact the teaching and learning experience. These strategies include creating connections to build community, applying content to authentic situations, integrating a careful mix of tools and media, leveraging reflective and interactive opportunities, providing early and continuous feedback, designing with assessment in mind, and encouraging change in small increments. Because student satisfaction and motivation plays a key role in retention rates and because increased social presence often leads to enriched learning experiences, it is advantageous to mindfully integrate social presence into learning environments.

Social Presence in Online Learning brings together eminent scholars in the field to distinguish among three different perspectives of social presence and to address how these viewpoints immediately inform practice. This important volume:

• Provides an overview of the evolution of social presence, key findings from social presence research, and practical strategies that can improve the online and blended learning experience
• Differentiates three distinct perspectives on social presence and explains the ideas and models that inform these perspectives
• Explores specific ways in which social presence relates to course satisfaction, retention, and outcomes
• Offers practical implications and ready-to-use techniques that are applicable to multiple disciplines
• Introduces current research on social presence by prominent researchers in the field with direct inferences to the practice of online and blended learning
• Looks at future directions for social presence

Social Presence in Online Learning is appropriate for practitioners, researchers and academics involved in any level of online learning program design, course design, instruction, support, and leadership as well as for graduate students studying educational technology, technology-enhanced learning, and online and blended learning. It brings together multiple perspectives on social presence from the most influential scholars in the field to help shape the future of online and blended learning.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620365090
Publisher: Stylus Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 05/31/2017
Series: Online Learning and Distance Education Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Aimee L. Whiteside is an assistant professor at the University of Tampa where she previously served as interim co-director for her university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include social presence, blended and online learning, technology-enhanced learning, experiential learning, academic-community partnerships, and professional writing. She has been featured in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Interactive Online Learning (JIOL), Online Learning Journal (OLJ), International Journal of E-Learning and Distance Education (IJEDE), EDUCAUSE Review, and the Online Learning Consortium’s Effective Practices. Additionally, she has written chapters in several books, such as Emotions, Technology, and Learning and Computer-Mediated Communication across Cultures: International Interactions in Online Environments as well as chapters in special volumes in the Advances in Research on Teaching and the New Directions in Teaching and Learning series.

Amy Garrett Dikkers is an Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She studies online and blended learning across the spectrum of Pk-20 educational organizations. To date she has over 20 publications that examine the value of online and technology-enhanced education for diverse populations of students and the teachers who work with them.

Karen Swan is the Stukel Professor of Educational Research at the University of Illinois Springfield. For the past 20 years, she has been teaching online, and researching online learning. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Award and she received the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) award for outstanding individual achievement and the Burks Oakley II distinguished online teaching award for her work in this area, and is an OLC Fellow and a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Charlotte Nirmalani Gunawardena is Regents’ Professor of Distance Education and Instructional Technology in the Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology Program at the University of New Mexico. For over twenty years she has published widely and presented on distance education, eLearning, and Instructional Technology. She currently researches the social construction of knowledge in online learning communities, the socio-cultural context of online learning, social presence theory, and cross-cultural e-mentoring. She has served as Principal Investigator and Project Director for U.S. federal research and evaluation grants, and was a Fulbright senior researcher in Morocco and Sri Lanka. She has consulted for World Bank and Asian Development Bank distance education projects, and the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka to train online teachers and instructional designers for its National Online Distance Education Service.

Table of Contents

Series Foreword—Michael Grahame Moore, Series Editor
Foreword—Charlotte Nirmalani Gunawardena

Part One: Introduction to Social Presence in Online Learning
1) Multiple Perspectives on Social Presence in Online Learning: An Introduction to This Volume—Karen Swan
2) Social Presence: Understanding Connections Among Definitions, Theory, Measurements, and Practice—Amy Garrett Dikkers, Aimee L. Whiteside, and Bethany Tap

Part Two: Understanding Social Presence as Technologically Facilitated
3) Understanding Social Presence as Technologically Facilitated: Introduction to Part Two—Karen Swan
4) Social Presence and Communication Technologies: Tales of Trial and Error—Patrick Lowenthal and Dave Mulder
5) Evolvements of Social Presence in Open and Networked Learning Environments—Chih-Hsiung Tu

Part Three: Understanding Social Presence as Learners' Perceptions
6) Understanding Social Presence as Learners’ Perceptions: Introduction to Part Three—Karen Swan
7) Social Presence and the Community of Inquiry Framework—Karen Swan and Jennifer C. Richardson
8) Social Presence and Student Success: Retention, Satisfaction, and Evolving Expectations—Phil Ice, Melissa Layne, and Wally Boston
9) Instructor Social Presence: Learners' Needs and a Neglected Component of the Community of Inquiry Framework—Jennifer C. Richardson and Patrick Lowenthal
10) Creating Social Cues through Self-Disclosures, Stories, and Paralanguage: The Importance of Modeling High Social Presence Behaviors in Online Courses—Jessica Gordon
11) Cultural Perspectives on Social Presence: Research and Practical Guidelines for Online Design—Charlotte Nirmalani Gunawardena

Part Four: Understanding Social Presence as a Critical Literacy
12) Understanding Social Presence as a Critical Literacy: Introduction to Part Four—Aimee L. Whiteside
13) Making Learning Relevant and Meaningful: Integrating Social Presence into Faculty Professional Development Programs—Aimee L. Whiteside
14) Blending Face-to-Face and Online Instruction to Disrupt Learning, Inspire Reflection, and Create Space for Innovation—Amy Garrett Dikkers, Aimee L. Whiteside, and Somer Lewis
15) Personalized Learning to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners—Somer Lewis, Amy Garrett Dikkers and Aimee L. Whiteside
16) Overcoming Isolation Online: Strategies to Enhance Social Presence in Practice—Aimee L. Whiteside, Amy Garrett Dikkers, and Somer Lewis

Section V: Concluding Thoughts
17) Future Directions for Social Presence: Shared Metacognition, Emerging Technologies, and the New Educational Ecosystem—Jason C. Vickers and Peter Shea
18) The Future of Social Presence: Advancing Research, Uniting the Perspectives, and Allowing for Innovation in Practice—Aimee L. Whiteside, Karen Swan, and Amy Garrett Dikkers

Editors and Contributors

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