My video for the week sums up my thoughts on the importance of a social presence in online learning environments. Link to video: http://vimeo.com/75737072. So, to answer the question that yes or no, should their be a social presence in online learning?….YES!!!!
Integrating a social presence into an online learning environment is extremely important for many reasons.
Cui’s article provides a great overview on social presence theory and its importance to building a successful social presence online. A few points to highlight include:
Overall, a social presence online improves a learners’ satisfaction, enhances instructional effectiveness and builds community. But, there might be a tipping point when there is TOO much social presence. As Garrison notes, the community of inquiry framework is valuable to understanding the effectiveness of a social presence and the need for participants to viewed as “real” people. There are positive correlations between a social presence and online interaction, with the design of the course very important to how the interaction between the instructor and student is done. Much of the research points to the need for a social presence as it’s directly correlated to a students’ satisfaction with the course, students’ learning, outcomes and sense of community.
In my video response, I note one Web 2.0 tool, Twitter, that can be used to increase student satisfaction and social interaction within an online course (or F2F course). A great article to reference in regards to social presence and Twitter is http://patricklowenthal.com/publications/Using_Twitter_to_Enhance_Social_Presence.pdf.