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AERA 2011 -- Investigating Students' Perceptions of Various Instructional Strategies  to Establish Social Presence
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AERA 2011 -- Investigating Students' Perceptions of Various Instructional Strategies to Establish Social Presence

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Social presence theory explains how people present themselves as “real” through a communication medium and is a popular construct used to describe how people socially interact in online courses. …

Social presence theory explains how people present themselves as “real” through a communication medium and is a popular construct used to describe how people socially interact in online courses. Because of its intuitive appeal, educators have experimented with different ways to establish social presence in their online courses. Over the years, we have tried many strategies—from rich threaded discussions to personal one-on-one emails to digital stories to using social networking tools like Twitter. Over time, we began questioning how students perceive all of the strategies we use (in other words, what strategies were leading to the most bang for our buck). In this paper, we describe our investigation of students’ perceptions of various instructional strategies to establish social presence.

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  • So, we started pulling together and experimenting with various high- and low-tech social-presence strategies that would help us attend to social-presence needs.
  • Synchronous sessions
  • Began using all kinds of personalized videos from video announcements, to general how-to videos, to individual one-on-one videos
  • Support a number of the findings from Phase Two. For instance, students pointed out that their relationship with instructors (including their sense that their instructors were real and accessible) was very important to them and an aspect of their online-course experience that positively influenced their overall learning.  They also pointed out that while all the strategies were of value, certain ones stuck in their minds as being more effective than others.  They recalled how important feedback They also consistently brought up one-on-one communication hear about emailing being dead, something only “old folks” do, or something you should not do because it happens outside of the LMS, our results suggest that email – or more generally personal, individualized communication – is key to helping students feel connected to their instructors. Another theme that emerged in the interviews that expanded upon the survey results was the importance of previous relationships and group work. Based on the survey results alone, it would be easy to conclude that previous relationships are highly important and that establishing a cohort model could help establish social presence by having students complete all of their coursework together. However, the interviews revealed that simply having a previous course together does not mean that a student had a previous relationship with other students. Students pointed out that having a successful group-project experience with their peers in a course helped them get to know their peers better and establish and maintain the social presence between them in future courses. Finally, perhaps one of the most interesting things that emerged from the interviews was that students who were selected with low social presence scores talked about many of the same things as students who were selected with high social presence scores. This suggests that perhaps there isn’t a magic level of social presence needed for all students but rather that each student needs different things.  
  • Provide personal, individualized feedback. Students reported this as being key to them feeling connected to their instructors. The tools and strategies that students talked about during the interviews as having a positive effect on their feelings of connection and their relationship with instructors were: email; phone/Skype calls; written, audio, video feedback; and one-on-one synchronous sessions. Provide opportunities for students to build relationships through collaborative work and sharing. Students reported this as being key to them feeling connected to their peers. The tools and strategies that students talked about during the interviews as having a positive effect on their feelings of connection with their peers were: group projects, peer reviews, virtual paper bag-like activities, open posting of projects, threaded discussions, and synchronous sessions. Being accessible. Students reported this as being key to them feeling connected to their instructors. The tools and strategies that students talked about during the interviews as having a positive effect on their feelings of connection with and their relationship with their instructors were: email; phone/Skype calls; synchronous sessions; and bios and digital stories.

Transcript

  • 1. Investigating Students' Perceptions of Various Instructional Strategies to Establish Social Presence
    Patrick Lowenthal ~ patrick.lowenthal@ucdenver.eduJoni Dunlap ~ joni.dunlap@ucdenver.eduSlides & Paper @ slideshare.net/plowenthal
  • 2. Background
  • 3. High Tech
    &
    Low Tech
  • 4. Synchronous Sessions
  • 5. Personalized Videos
  • 6. Superhero Powers
  • 7. What Makes You Rock?
  • 8. 5-Minute Phone Call
  • 9. What’s Happening?
  • 10. The Impetus
    “Twitter has been a great way for me to check in with everyone who is using it.
    I found out how other’s were feeling about school, how life was treating them, how their jobs and families were doing. This is something much more intimate than mandatory weekly discussions...”
  • 11. Our Big Question
    What are students’ perceptions of various social-presence strategies used in an online course?
  • 12. Overview
  • 13. Phase 1
  • 14. Phase 1 Method
    “What aspects of the course helped you feel connected to your course colleagues? To me?”
  • 15. Phase 1 Results
    “I really LOVE twittering with everyone. It really made me feel like we knew each other more and were actually in class together.”
    “The Soundtrack of Your Life: It was a creative way to introduce ourselves to each other that communicated something about ourselves instead of using words. I thought the Google Doc activities were an excellent way to express ourselves freely for others to read freely about our expressions.”
  • 16. Phase 1 Results
    “In general, the discussions helped me feel connected to my course colleagues. The discussions also helped me feel connected to you (Joni). In addition, the feedback I received on my projects helped quite a bit as well.”
    “The structured discussions that we had always help me, sometimes I may miss a point that someone else may see, so I like that and the various points other students make. I also like the peer review on the projects, I think that helped me feel connected. I think you did a great job with interacting with the discussions and any email I sent you answered quickly, so I felt connected.”
  • 17. Phase 1 Results
    “The part of the course that made me feel connected to the other students was the peer reviews. The aspect of the course that helped me feel connected to the instructor was the feedback I received from the instructor and the follow-up email exchanges.”
    “I really liked being an integral part of reviewing.  I felt (especially in certain assignment) that I really got some insight into how the other students interpreted the assignments and put their own life (either work or other parts of their life) into the assignment.”  
  • 18. Phase 2
  • 19. Phase 2 Method
    Adapted the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008).
    Eliminated cognitive presence questions; added questions focused on students’ perceptions of instructional strategies / technologies.
    Sample included students completing a graduate certificate in eLearning, M.A. in eLearning, or a M.A. in Instructional Technology.
    Administered the survey to 4 different sections of completely online courses (fall 2009, spring 2010, & summer2010)
    37 students completed the survey; 36.6% response rate  
  • 20. Phase 2 Method
    Adapted the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008).
    Eliminated cognitive presence questions; added questions focused on students’ perceptions of instructional strategies / technologies.
    Sample included students completing a graduate certificate in eLearning, M.A. in eLearning, or a M.A. in Instructional Technology.
    Administered the survey to 4 different sections of completely online courses (fall 2009, spring 2010, & summer2010)
    37 students completed the survey; 36.6% response rate  
  • 21. Phase 2 Method
    Adapted the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008).
    Eliminated cognitive presence questions; added questions focused on students’ perceptions of instructional strategies / technologies.
    Sample included students completing a graduate certificate in eLearning, M.A. in eLearning, or a M.A. in Instructional Technology.
    Administered the survey to 4 different sections of completely online courses (fall 2009, spring 2010, & summer2010)
    37 students completed the survey; 36.6% response rate  
  • 22. Phase 2 Method
    Adapted the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008).
    Eliminated cognitive presence questions; added questions focused on students’ perceptions of instructional strategies / technologies.
    Sample included students completing a graduate certificate in eLearning, M.A. in eLearning, or a M.A. in Instructional Technology.
    Administered the survey to 4 different sections of completely online courses (fall 2009, spring 2010, & summer 2010)
    37 students completed the survey; 36.6% response rate  
  • 23. Phase 2 Method
    Adapted the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008).
    Eliminated cognitive presence questions; added questions focused on students’ perceptions of instructional strategies / technologies.
    Sample included students completing a graduate certificate in eLearning, M.A. in eLearning, or a M.A. in Instructional Technology.
    Administered the survey to 4 different sections of completely online courses (fall 2009, spring 2010, & summer2010)
    37 students completed the survey; 36.6% response rate  
  • 24. Phase 2 Results
     
  • 25. Phase 2 Results
    Top 5 ~ Connected to Instructor 
  • 26. Phase 2 Results
    Bottom 5 ~ Connected to Instructor 
  • 27. Phase 2 Results
    Top 5 ~ Connected to Peers 
  • 28. Phase 2 Results
    Bottom 5 ~ Connected to Peers 
  • 29. Phase 2 Results
    Most & Least Effective ~ Connected to Instructor 
    Most Effective: Phone calls & Screencast feedback
    Least Effective: Twitter & the “Top 100 of Design Guidelines” Google Docs activity
     
  • 30. Phase 2 Results
    Most & Least Effective ~ Connected to Peers 
    Most Effective: Digital storytelling, previous relationships with peers, & open access to review peers projects
    Least Effective: Twitter
    Note: All of the strategies except Twitter received a mean score of above neutral (2.0 on a 4-point scale)
  • 31. Phase 3
  • 32. Phase3 Methods
    Follow up semi-structured Interviews (3 highest & 3 lowest scoring )
  • 33. Phase3 Results
    1. Corroborated Phase 2 results
    --Previous relationships, feedback, one-on-one communication
    2. Clarified Phase 2 results
    --Previous relationships & group work are only
    helpful if positive
    --Twitter isn’t bad.
    3. Questioned quantifying Social Presence
  • 34. Concluding Thoughts
  • 35. Implications
    Provide personal, individualized feedback.
    Provide opportunities for students to build relationships through collaborative work and sharing.
    Being accessible.
  • 36. Patrick Lowenthal patrick.lowenthal@ucdenver.eduJoni Dunlapjoni.dunlap@ucdenver.eduSlides &Paper @www.slideshare.net/plowenthal
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