November 20

on social presence

There is evidence to suggest that a strong sense of community in the classroom helps reduce student feelings of isolation and “burnout” associated with higher attrition levels in both classroom-based and distance learning. A positive sense of community also promotes the likelihood of student support and information flow, commitment to group goals, cooperation among members and satisfaction with group processes and efforts [e.g. Rovai (2002)].  Classroom Community is comprised of various elements of community including trust, spirit, connectedness, belonging, membership, various forms of support, and the rich, and productive milieu that communities of practice can engender for teaching and learning.

In my work with faculty helping them to become effective online instructors, i work very hard to establish a strong personal online voice to demonstrate/model online personality as a component of my teaching presence and to establish a positive social presence and sense of class community that you can only cultivate by building trust with individuals. As an online instructor I set the tone for this in my online course by how i speak, interact, and present myself. I also facilitate and model it for my students, so they have a sense that I am a real person, and that it is ok for them to be real too in the online class environment. This does not mean being chummy with your students, or lax, or anything that you are not. This means representing yourself authentically and as a real multidimensional being online, so that your students will “know” who you are, can judge and gauge their relationship with you, and have a sense of you. If as, we believe, learning is a social process, then it is essential to develop the ability to effectively design and facilitate effective online social presence and class community in online teaching and learning environments and the faculty that teach in them.


Posted November 20, 2008 by alexandrapickett in category Uncategorized

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Alexandra M. Pickett

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