The role of social presence in computer supported collaborative learning and teaching Sylvia Warnecke and Mirjam Hauck
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The role of social presence in computer supported collaborative learning and teaching Sylvia Warnecke and Mirjam Hauck






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  • It relates to the need for communicators to feel connected with each other, and to perceive each other as real people, even though their communication is mediated by technology. It may facilitate the success of cognitive presence [and] therefore, engages groups in interaction and communication and thus sustains and furthers critical skills (Lomicka 2007)
  • The concept of social presence is part of the educational experience model of COI developed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000): cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence. [Garrison et al. (2000, p. 88) say that “a worthwhile educational experience is embedded within a community of inquiry” and that “in a true community of inquiry, the tone of the messages is questioning but engaging, expressive but responsive, sceptical but respectful, and challenging but supportive (p.96)”.] Fits the design of EAP online which was guided by what we called “the students as ethnographers” , the students encouraged to question academic writing and reading in general and their own text productions in particular -> cognitive processes, i.e. critical thinking (systematically promoted and supported through social presence). Cognitive presence is seen as the core element of successful learning and social presence as a supporting element (meeting the learners’ social and affective needs). But it is accepted as a direct facilitator when sustaining interaction throughout a course is of significant importance, for instance in the case of distance education. The third dimension in the model, i.e. teaching presence , includes designing, supporting and directing cognitive and social procedures . Here we start by focus on social presence. However, like Shea et al. (2010) we believe that the components of the model cannot be understood fully if analysed as separate units. A weakness of previous research is what Vaughan and Garrison (2005) for example claim, namely that “students in online discussion tend not to reach higher stages of cognitive presence” and who see this as a drawback of the medium. What happens in an asynchronous forum is not detached from other activities of students in the online environment and agree with Shea et al. (2010) who confirm that the understanding reached and the knowledge constructed in the asynchronous forum is then applied in other contexts such as projects, presentations, essay writing etc. -> this is exactly how the forum is brought into play in the EAP module … a preparatory tool for assessment and even within the assessment.
  • A very rich and varied socio-cultural background and context (students could study in different countries but meet here at the same time) A context which illustrates Morgan’s (2011) point about what we need to take into consideration, if we really want to understand what happens in a community of inquiry (COI): ‘ the complexities of the community’s global and local contexts, the potential multi-linguistic demands of the teaching and learning contexts, and how power, agency, and identities are negotiated in these multicultural contexts.’ She finds says that it is “somewhat surprising that although the community of inquiry framework has developed based on distance education contexts, it currently does not consider te complexities…..”
  • Highlight that work happened in many media/tools
  • Highlight mix of tools/tutors/students here as well
  • Highlight that we are looking at tutors as students and tutors as teachers in addition to the shifting of roles within one forum from student to teacher for individuals
  • Overview Mix: practical/technological; pedagogical; institutional background; language learning; One example selected for presentation: patterns of participation Reason: evoked reflective discussions about one’s own presence online
  • Pattern of activity: reflection on own experiences – relating these to theoretical findings – applying these to the context in question Asking questions… NOT giving answers!
  • G. Salmon 2002 Etivities: Key to online learning 9 animals Differentiation in student – moderator we would not agree One tutor used this with students as well and reported about success of invitation to reflection: strong group cohesion effect
  • The concept of “exploratory practice” was comes from by Allwright (2003). Allwright rejects the notion of the aim of practitioner research and the belief in continuous ‘improvement’ of teaching practice. He focuses on the social nature of teaching and the need for all participants to be aware of the processes involved. Allwright & Hanks insist that language learning and teaching as well as research are social processes and want learners to be treated as “key practitioners” without excluding teachers. Teachers and learners should be considered “‘practitioner colleagues’, with the teachers playing a collegial role in helping learners develop as researchers of their own practices and practitioners of learning” (2009, p. 146).
  • Unlike other studies on social presence, i.e. Shea et al. (2010), we look at the wider context of the forum activities and gather evidence in different modes/tools/forms and with different focus, i.e. reflective and anecdotal in survey as well as quantitative in survey. Quantitative in forum postings as well as anecdotal and reflective. We are also able to look at tutors as students and tutors as teachers (experiential modelling!). This allows us in accordance with Morgan (2011) to “take a closer look at the contextual conditions in which presence takes place” and the effect it has in the wider context on participation and in turn learning.
  • We want to establish how social presence, which drives participation and online learning can be established, how then social presence and teaching presence can be understood and linked and how this in turn can inform our training with practitioners well. Good, easily applicable patterns and indicators Needs expanding: (we won’t say more at this stage but this will be a main focus of the session!) Not extensive… we will show examples of multi-media which are not covered here
  • I KNOW, HOW SILLY AM I? Never mind, it's all about learning eh?: affective, humour, self-disclosure Thanks for this : Interactive , group reference, cohesive: acknowledgement Would there by any useful follow up to these […]?: cohesive: invitation; interactive: group reference Enjoyed reading these : affective: value; emotion, self-disclosure, cohesive: approval good to meet you! : affective: value; interactive: group reference; Do they still have concrete cows in Milton Keynes? … : cohesive: acknowledgement, invitation; interactive: social sharing Looking forward to our Elluminate sessions together!: affective: emotion; interactive: group reference; cohesive: acknowledgement
  • Happy group  When I get a minute   : affective: self disclosure, humour We would all make very good sleuths !    : interactive: group reference, humour, self-disclosure, cohesive: acknowledgement After a couple of days I would put them out of their misery ;-): affective: humour, interactive: social sharing; cohesive: personal advice Used few to start with but increased during training
  • Misleading … Humour might be lost Strong image… Case of student how role-played with name and image! Does one image put a person into one fixed category?
  • Affective: emotion Cohesive: personal advice [Mirjam: where is this?] Interesting reflection about social presence online and f2f… basically true… difference is how this is established, interesting about learning to manage this environment as a teacher: categorisations etc. Studies about difference in gender in online behaviour: women tending to be more empathetic and men tending to appear slightly aggressive Rovai, A.P. (2001) “Building classroom community at a distance: a case study” Education Technology Research and Development, Vol. 49, No. 4, 2001, pp. 33–48
  • Also some self-disclosure: “I also get pretty easily bored and then …..”
  • Mix of emoticon, textual indicators Interactive: group Cohesive: invitation Affective: self-disclosure, humour
  • Moderation in different modes all experienced in the same way – experiential modelling Safe environment – human element Tutors asked to be able to see each others forums and actively copied ideas and discussed their success afterwards Smiley  Note the reference to ‘tone’… indicator of SP here
  • Combining different tools and their potential Models for copying… can be revisited (forums / recordings) Safe environment… stronger SP effect possible modelling
  • In how far is it a training approach? SP provides indirect support for cognitive presence . But: It becomes a direct facilitator when it is important to sustain interaction throughout a course such as this training event (in distance learning or training context, in particular). In our view SP is both the means and the end of online interaction in communities of inquiry… motivator, reference point, basis for content building and knowledge transfer since it creates the environment in which this is enabled (Kehrwald 2008, 2010) SP is established and maintained by ongoing demonstration of SP in the community through visible action, such as posting messages, which contain topical and relational cues that enable participants to get to know one another. - Patterns of participation example: frequency and intensity a widely discussed topic… however also question: what is a valuable contribution: that which motivates others!
  • - the insight into the importance of SP grew throughout training as well as throughout work on the module ‘ Getting to know’… had been the highest scorer from the start mutual support had ranked with learning strategies etc. but in final survey this had increased as can be seen here - also due to experience in student groups
  • Kehrwald also talks about how important it is to be able to send and read SP cues and how this is actually learnt “through seeing and experiencing how others project themselves into the environment, how others interact with one another and how others react to their personal efforts to cultivate a social presence” (Kehrwald, 2010, p. 47) We consider this actually one of the core e-literacy skills participants in online communication in communities of inquiry have to learn in the same way as IT skills -> “ participatory literacy” (Pegrum 2009) The examples show how forms of establishing social presence can be supportive of group cohesion and cognitive presence, but also how these can become an obstacle in the process of establishing social presence if it is not known how to interpret, read… cue or to send cues that can be understood easily (due to intercultural differences, due to not being familiar with communication in the online environment, due to differing aesthetic tastes)… it becomes very difficult to establish norms of communication in this field … the same as code of conduct/netiquette
  • Arnold and Ducate (2006) analysed ACMC interactions of FL teacher trainees (without the presence of tutors) in groups of four or five through the lens of the community of inquiry framework (Garrison et al., 2000) via content analysis and a 12 item questionnaire[1]. Two universities collaborated in developing a methodology course for future FL teaching assistants. The interactions among 13 native speakers (NSs) and 10 non-native speakers (NNSs) were carried out in English. Five bulletin board discussions were completed reflecting on class material and discussing practical applications, resulting in a total of 27 group discussions[2]. Participant perspectives indicated that learners felt a sense of community, whose extent varied across groups. The content analysis results revealed that social activity outweighed cognitive density … Also some self-disclosure here! Shifting roles and identities even within one community of inquiry: Blend and shifting of roles and behaviour as: facilitator/teacher learner peer (supporter) when giving advice… when asking for help…when discussion contrary views: question… can we establish differences in roles in different institutionally set ‘roles’ and contexts and within one community… Might these overlap even more in the future when users become much more familiar with the medium/media?
  • Instead of the notion of ‘fixed’ roles of student/instructor/teacher we – in accordance with Morgan (2011) – think that describing how the negotiation of presence, agency and power in online environments is carried out can be much more valuable for research and practice. Morgan claims that a more detailed insight into the ‘dynamics of positioning and identity’ will enable us to capture ‘practice as socially situated rather than simply evidenced in actions of performance’. We also feel that the shifting roles and identities in online communication have not been taken into account sufficiently by previous research and agree with Shea et al. (2010, p. 10) : ‘teaching presence refers to the instructional design and organisation, facilitation of productive discourse, and direct instruction developed in online courses, ideally by both instructors and students.’ We strongly support the view that students and teachers take on both roles/identities at the same time in the online learning process which is in line with what we have said earlier about exploratory practice as a methodological approach for the investigation of “social presence”.
  • We want to establish how social presence, which drives participation and online learning can be established, how then social presence and teaching presence can be understood and linked and how this in turn can inform our training with practitioners well. Good, easily applicable patterns and indicators Needs expanding: (we won’t say more at this stage but this will be a main focus of the session!) Not extensive… we will show examples of multi-media which are not covered here

The role of social presence in computer supported collaborative learning and teaching Sylvia Warnecke and Mirjam Hauck The role of social presence in computer supported collaborative learning and teaching Sylvia Warnecke and Mirjam Hauck Presentation Transcript

  • Social activity versus cognitive density? Exploring the role of social presence in computer supported collaborative learning and teaching Wide Open Symposium 2011 Mirjam Hauck and Sylvia Warnecke
  • what is social presence?
  • the degree of salience of the other person in a mediated interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal interaction (Short et al. 1976) social presence can ‘be cultured’ […] and is both a factor of the medium and of the communicators and their presence in a sequence of interactions ( Gunawardena and Zittle 1997 ) the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into a community of inquiry (Rourke et al. 1999) the social presence construct […] hypothesizes modes of social presence including the textual demonstration of affect, group cohesion, and open communication necessary to establish a sense of trust and, ideally, membership in a community dedicated to joint knowledge construction. (Shea et al. 2010)
  • social presence within a community of inquiry (Garrison et al. 2000)
  • the module: students, tutors, tools, and components English for Academic Purposes online
  • students
    • mix of
    • native speakers and non-native speakers
    • academic backgrounds
    • objectives for study
    • experience with distance/online learning
    • e-literacy skills
    • -> a multifaceted Community of Inquiry
  • tutors
    • many new to the Open University
    • many new to the specific student mix
    • all new to a course taught entirely online
    • some with experience of using email for teaching and learning purposes
    • many new to tutoring via forum
    • -> a similarly multifaceted Community of Inquiry!
  • tools
    • tailor-made version of Moodle
    • course wide forum, tutor group forum, tutor forum
    • Elluminate
    • eTMA system
    • embedded audio recording tool
    • wiki
  • the tutor training programme: aims, structure, topics English for Academic Purposes online
  • aims
    • familiarisation of tutors with:
    • peer group
    • materials
    • the teaching and learning environment
    • forms of moderation using different tools on the module
    • the challenges of teaching through forum moderation
  • structure
    • 6 weeks, 3 activities, 2-3 hours per week
    • 2 activities: practical approach talking about own experiences, sharing ideas, etc.
    • 1 activity: theoretical approach with further reading
    • in a dedicated forum
    • training overlapped with tutors starting to teach the module by 4 weeks
  • topics
    • getting to know the module website
    • sharing an icebreaker idea
    • purposes of online groups
    • dealing with difficult messages and code of conduct (forums)
    • motivation
    • patterns of participation
    • forms of moderation in other Web 2.0 tools
    • error correction
    • assessment of forum contributions
    • Week 3 Activity 1: Patterns of participation: forum
    • Dear all,
    • This week we will consider two key issues with regard to the tutor role in asynchronous communication with student groups: motivation and participation. We want to find out to what extent our work can tip the balance either in favour or against participation and whether what [participant] calls 'let students get on with it' is something we need to take on board and to communicate to our groups.
    • Now:
    • Think about your own patterns of participation (either as a moderator or as a student). How often, when, why, how intensively do you participate?
    • Then have a look at the attached document which is a collation of common patterns of online participation as categorised by G. Salmon (2002).
    • Which one applies to yourself? Is there anything you have learned that you want to practise in order to help your group become / be / stay active?
  • patterns of participation: forum
  • the conceptual framework English for Academic Purposes online
  • experiential modelling
    • all of the tools and processes were modelled and experienced by the participants during the training
        • This experiential modeling approach to familiarizing practicing teachers with technology seems to be a positive step towards engendering in teachers the competence and confidence to use new technologies with their learners to help them, in turn, to maximize their language learning.
        • (Hoven 2006)
  • exploratory practice Third-party research in general cannot meet our purposes, and practitioner research, the form of AR [action research], has not yet taken us far enough away from the third-party model to overcome these limitations. […] The first two parties for research on education are the teachers and the learners. (Allwright and Hanks 2009)
  • taking a closer look … English for Academic Purposes online
  • data collection
    • surveys: after completion of the training programme, mid-end-course, end-of-course
    • forum contributions (tutor forum)
    • evaluative online meeting in Elluminate
  • social presence indicators Swan (2002) building on Rourke et al . (1999) Affective Interactive Cohesive Paralanguage Greetings and salutations Acknowledgement Emotion Vocatives Agreement/disagreement Value Group reference Approval Humour Social sharing Invitation Self-disclosure Course reflection Personal advice
  • Hi [participant], Thanks for that.  […]  I then, thought that the extended deadline was for the wiki one. I KNOW, HOW SILLY AM I? Never mind, it's all about learning eh? Thanks for this [participant]. The questionnaire you propose for scenario 2 would certainly not be an easy one to write. […] Would there by any useful follow up to these […]? […] Enjoyed reading these [participant] and as you can see they made me think! HI [participant], good to meet you! Do they still have concrete cows in Milton Keynes? I think you're very lucky to be close to The O.U.... think I saw the concrete cows on a roundabout? Looking forward to our Elluminate sessions together!
  • more examples … English for Academic Purposes online
  • affective social presence indicators: emotions
    • When I get a minute    I enjoy going to the cinema and eating out with friends, mostly trying out the various curry houses of Bradford.
    • We would all make very good sleuths !   
    • They could also agree with ideas other students had posted before and come to their own conclusions.  After a couple of days I would put them out of their misery ;-)
  • affective social presence indicators: self-disclosure
  • affective/interactive social presence indicators: self-disclosure and continuing a thread I think all these kinds of classifications have to be used with caution … I guess our forum identity is as multifaceted as any other (what is a multilingual forum identity like???) … I think … our behaviour on a forum is similar to our behaviour elsewhere. I tend to be quite active in my interactions with students on forums. I feel that if they know I am paying attention, then they will do more to be "seen." I also respond to students with questions, but leave openings for other students to comment as well.
  • interactive social presence indicators: greetings and salutations It depends a lot on my mood and on the subject others are talking about. When I am very interested in a subject I participate, but I also get pretty easily bored and then I concentrate on other stuff instead. It’s nice to see that I am not the only squirrel here ^_^. Greetings to all ,
  • cohesive social presence indicators: addressing the group My participation pattern depends very much on the forum and the people who are using it. And it also depends on my current workload.  In an interesting forum I'm usually among the most active writers and tend to be a "rabbit". […] I also try to embody the qualities of the "dolphin", but this is not easy. Decide for yourself how well I do.  Well, I will hold back now and let other people shine through in this discussion. ;-) 
  • some findings Social presence vs cognitive density?
  • experiential modelling as a training approach I would also like to focus on the Elluminate training sessions, led by different tutors. Again, these were so well structured and well managed - a model for how to do it . And if things occasionally went a teeny bit awry, that was great too, as it added a human element  . It was also great to see other tutors' forums ; I have certainly learned from those, and would pick out my colleague [name] in particular as someone who seems to me to always get the tone right.
  • The training we had at the start of the course was just excellent, not just for the focus on different aspects of VLE and forums and the needs of the online/distance learner, but also for the model it provided of how to respond to posts. It created a 'safe' environment on the forums; for example, the trainer never made me feel 'put down', regardless of the stupidity of my comment or question; I have pinched phrases she used in her replies in my own responses to students .
  • training for social presence subjective projections of self … into technology mediated environments, subjective assessments of others’ presence and assessments of the subject’s relations with others (Kehrwald 2010)
  • What would you consider the key purpose of forums for students?
    • Peer support and group cohesion (unanimous)
    • Content building
    • Language training
    • Assessment preparation
    • Contacting the tutor
  • sending and reading social presence cues/indicators through seeing and experiencing how others project themselves into the environment, how others interact with one another and how others react to their personal efforts to cultivate a social presence (Kehrwald 2010)
  • How have the students mainly interacted?
    • Gave feedback on each others’ work (unanimous)
    • Asked for help with course work
    • Helped each other prepare assignments
    • Socialised
    • Corrected each others’ mistakes
  • What’s the take away?
    • importance of training in social presence
    • social activity outweighs cognitive density
    • (Arnold and Ducate 2006) -> not necessarily the case!
    • shifting roles/identities
    • As an emailer , I am a 100% rabbit; as a forum participant , perhaps not. (I fear I might be a mole, but I hope not.) I read all the posts with interest, but am rather erratic with contributing. To be honest, for the moment I feel I am busy getting my head around the mechanics of forums, and working online. As a moderator , my priority is to respond quickly, to encourage interaction, especially at this early stage of the course. 
    • -> added value of experiential modelling!
  • to be explored … Social presence vs cognitive density?
  • negotiation of social presence When online teaching is viewed from the position of instructors as subjects, the tensions and contradictions that occur in the system can provide a useful description of the negotiation of teaching presence in online courses. Morgan (2011)
  • social presence in a wider context
    • social presence and cognitive presence Shea et al. (2010)
    • social presence and teaching presence Shea et al. (2010)
    • social presence and identity Morgan (2011) – social presence = negotiation of identity etc.
  • a new approach ... Social presence vs cognitive density?
  • The Community Indicators Framework (Galley et al. 2010)
  • Mirjam Hauck and Sylvia Warnecke Faculty of Education and Language Studies Department of Languages The Open University [email_address] and [email_address]