#CritLit2010 Importance of social presence in online learning

In this paper on Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction by JC Richardson, K Swan, I was struck by the following implications:

These results have several implications:

1. Students reporting higher perceived social presence scores also perceived they learned more from the course than students with low perceived social presence scores. This indicates a relationship between social presence and perceived learning.

2. Students who were most satisfied with their instructors also believed they learned more from their courses than students who were less satisfied with their instructors. This indicates a relationship between instructor satisfaction and perceived learning.

3. Students with high overall social presence scores also indicated they were highly satisfied with their instructor. This implies that students’ perceptions of social presence were related to the perceptions of their instructors as having a satisfactory online presence in terms of amount of interaction and/or quality of that interaction.

They conclude:

“interaction among participants is critical in learning and cognitive development [31, 32]. Sociocognitive theorists describe learning as an interactive group process in which learners actively construct knowledge and then build upon that knowledge through the exchange of ideas with others [11, 30]. These theories combined with the findings of this study indicate that there is a “better” model for online courses. The model should not only present the information and materials to students but also incorporate the social aspects of learning in both the design and instruction of online courses.
The immediate implications of this research extend into the realms of both research and practice.”
My questions:
1. Is the physical or “virtual” presence of the instructor & students an essential element of learning in an online course?
2. Will the learners learn more with social presence?  How will social presence affect learners’ learning?
3. If learning is an interactive group process, then how would such a group form in an online course?  How important is group learning?
4. What happens if the group is based on a community of bloggers and/or twitters?  To what extent would learners be able to “construct knowledge” and then build upon that knowledge?
5. What happens to the lurkers?  How would lurkers (legitimate peripheral participants (LPP) be able to construct knowledge and then build upon that knowledge if there is little exchange of ideas with others? What learning strategies could be recommended for lurkers or LPP in an online course?
6. How will social media impact on student’s learning?
7. What would be the impact of PLE on student’s social presence?
8. What would be the role of instructor in an online course where PLE is adopted by students?  Instructors as aggregators? As curators? As sensemaker? As wayfinder?  ………

3 thoughts on “#CritLit2010 Importance of social presence in online learning

  1. Hi John,

    This is a subject close to my heart. I will expand more at a later date.

    1. It is desirable
    2. Yes – biggest thing motivation and focus
    3. Interactive synchronous classes bonds the group. group learning very important.
    4 and 5 need to think more about this.
    6 Will encourage reflection, self expression and connection which will foster serendipitous learning (may be literacies to be learnt :-))
    7. Could improve social presence, but may need support initially.
    8. Different learner levels may require different things from the teacher/facilitator. Facilitator to set appropriate group and individual learning activities, illicit thoughts and opinions, act as sensemaker and wayfinder.

    I describe the use of web conferencing and web 2.0 tools and participative, connective mentality as sixth generation distance learning.

    will get back with more soon.


  2. I do think I miss alot by not being in right time zone to attend the meetings online and I’m ways struggling to locate the recordings I cannot find them all linked in Moodle? I rely alot on peer blogs. I definitely respond to the social in that when a peer says hi and fez some connection then it’s easy to feel reciprocal. I don’t mind initiating that either.

    Traditionally I have relied alot on my relationship with my teacher to motivate me. Here in #CritLit2010 I don’t have that same opportunity but I create a sense of it for myself. Because of my need for flexibility the absence of the social affords me some distance and detachment re commitment which is good in my case. I don’t want to feel overcommitted -just to join at my pace.

    But attending the above would improve my focused input. I think expediate also my output?

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