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

Aimee L. Whiteside

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 to 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.

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