Teacher presence online

Think of an online course that you have been part of as a learner. What did it mean for you to be ‘present’ online? Were you aware of your teacher’s presence?

The Community of Inquiry model, developed by Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000) is used and researched widely. It identifies three different kinds of presence that are crucial for good educational experiences to happen in online environments.

Community of Inquiry model

It is important to note that these presences apply to all participants.  This blog post considers what it means as a teacher to be present in these different ways? Here are several comments from students that suggest their expectations of teacher presence.

‘Some lecturers are extremely supportive, others less so or not at all.’

‘We need lecturers who answer questions and reply to emails.’

‘It’s important that teachers actually read the Moodle forums they set as homework.’

 To start you off on your thinking, would any of the suggestions below give you more teacher presence in your online environment.

Teaching and Cognitive Presence: Selecting content

  • Chunk the content of your course into smaller bites than a textbook or academic essay. How can you get learners to interact with a single chunk? What task might help them to engage better with the content?
  • Think of the main points or headlines of your content. Has someone already created engaging content online that you can point learners to? Do a search.
  • Use a YouTube video or a TED talk as a starting point for getting learners to engage with a particular topic.

Social and Teaching Presence: Setting the climate

  • Be positive and friendly in your online interaction, whether it is a welcome notice, online input sessions or responding to students’ questions.
  • Establish office hours when you are available for chat, video conferencing, phone contact.
  • In your face-to-face class, talk about what learners have been discussing online. And vice-versa.

Social and Cognitive Presence: Supporting discourse

  • Ensure presence as a moderator in online discussion forums. How will your students know that you’ve read/valued their contributions?
  • Give feedback in both face-to-face and online modes.
  • Ask good questions that encourage students to engage in more depth with content, rather than just read or watch superficially.

For more specifics on what your presence as a teacher online might be, go to the Blended Learning Moodle which deals with the question How you can develop social and teaching presence with your students.

Image from http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/wp-content/themes/The%20Mentor/images/uploads/comm_inquiry.gif

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