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Karen Swan: Social presence in online learning: what’s the big deal?

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Presentation: Social presence in online learning: what’s the big deal?

Annual conference for the SUNY online teaching and learning community of practice.
https://commons.suny.edu/cotehub/
March 6-8, 2019, Syracuse, NY.

Conference website: http://opensunysummit2019.edublogs.org/
Program: http://opensunysummit2019.edublogs.org/about/program/
Recordings: http://opensunysummit2019.edublogs.org/mediasite/
Materials: http://opensunysummit2019.edublogs.org/registration/materials/
Open SUNY Online Teaching: http://commons.suny.edu/cote/

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Karen Swan: Social presence in online learning: what’s the big deal?

  1. 1. social presence in online learning: Karen Swan University of Illinois Springfield
  2. 2. • What is social presence? • What difference does it make? • How can we support its development in online classes?
  3. 3. “The theory of social presence is perhaps the most popular construct used to describe and understand how people socially interact in online learning environments. However, despite its intuitive appeal, researchers and practitioners alike often define and conceptualize this popular construct differently. In fact, it is often hard to distinguish between whether someone is talking about social interaction, immediacy, intimacy, emotion, and/or connectedness when they talk about social presence.” —Patrick Lowenthal What is social presence?
  4. 4. immediacy (face-to-face communications research) • the psychological distance between communicators • verbal immediacy behaviors – ie., giving praise, soliciting viewpoints, humor, self-disclosure • non-verbal immediacy behaviors – ie., physical proximity, touch, eye-contact, facial expressions, gestures (Weiner & Mehrabian, 1968) What is social presence?
  5. 5. IMMEDIACY COGNITIVE LEARNING STATE MOTIVATION AFFECTIVE LEARNING (Christophel, 1990; Richmond, 1990; Frymeir, 1994) IMMEDIACY COGNITIVE LEARNING AFFECTIVE LEARNING (Kelley & Gorham, 1988; Gorham, 1988) (Richmond, Gorham & McCroskey; 1987; Gorham, 1988) LEARNING MODEL COGNITIVE LEARNING AFFECTIVE LEARNING IMMEDIACY (Rodriguez, Plax & Kearney, 1996) AFFECTIVE LEARNING MODEL teacher immediacy What is social presence?
  6. 6. • original work on social presence would suggest that (text- based) computer mediated communication (CMC) has very low social presence • other media – two way audio, two-way video, face-to-face communication would have increasingly greater social presence social presence = quality of a medium to project the salience of others; ie. immediacy (Short, Williams & Christie, 1976) What is social presence?
  7. 7. • social presence theory (Short, Williams & Christie, 1976) ranking by users (impersonal/personal, unsociable/sociable, insensitive/sensitive, cold/warm) of various media • media richness theory (Rice, 1992) medium’s capacity for immediate feedback, senses involved, personalization, and language variety • affective channel capacity (Picard, 1997) amount of affective information/total amount of information passed through a media channel What is social presence?
  8. 8. What is social presence?
  9. 9. • experience suggests otherwise • several studies show that experienced CMC users rate email and computer conferencing as rich or richer than telephone and face-to-face conversations (Gunawardena, 1995) • rather than being impersonal, CMC often seems to be “hyper-personal” (Walther, 1992) social presence = the degree to which one is perceived as a “real person” in mediated communication What is social presence?
  10. 10. cognitive presence social presence teaching presence COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY FRAMEWORK (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) What is social presence?
  11. 11. the ability of participants in a virtual community of inquiry to project themselves socially and emotionally, and to perceive each other as “real people” social presence What is social presence? affective expression group cohesion open communication
  12. 12. What is social presence? social presence = a kind of literacy (Whiteside, 2018)
  13. 13. What is social presence & how can we measure it?
  14. 14. paralanguage (PL) features of text outside formal syntax used to convey emotion (eg. emoticons, punctuation) Someday . . . . .; How awful for you :-( ; Mathcad is definitely NOT stand alone software; Absolutely!!!!!! Asteroff, 1985; Poole, 2000; Rourke, 2001 emotion (EM) use of descriptive words that indicate feelings (ie., love, hate, sad, silly, etc.) When I make a spelling mistake, I look and feel stupid; I get chills when I think of. . . emergent value (VL) expressing personal values beliefs, & attitudes I think that commercialization is a necessary evil; I feel our children have the same rights emergent humor (H) use of humor – teasing, cajoling, irony, sarcasm God forbid leaving your house to go to the library; Now it is like brushing my teeth (which I assure you I do quite well) Gorham, 1988; Poole, 2000 self-disclosure (SD) sharing personal information, expressing vulnerability I sound like an old lady; I am a closet writer; We had a similar problem. . . Gorham, 1988; Rourke, 1999 AFFECTIVE INDICATORS How can we measure social presence? (Swan, 2003; Swan & Shih, 2005)
  15. 15. greetings & salutations (GS) greetings, closures Hi Mary; That’s it for now, Tom Poole, 2000; Rourke, 2001 vocatives (V) addressing classmates by name You know, Tamara. . . ; I totally agree with you Katherine Christenson & Menzel, 1988; Poole, 2000 group reference (GR) refering to the group as we, us, our We need to be educated; Our use of the Internet may not be free Gorham, 1988; Rourke, 2001 social sharing (SS) sharing information unrelated to the course Happy Birthday!!to both of you!!! Bussman, 1998; Rourke, 2001 course reflection (RF) reflection on the course itself A good example was the CD-ROM we read about emergent COHESIVE INDICATORS (Swan, 2003; Swan & Shih, 2005) How can we measure social presence?
  16. 16. acknowledgement (AK) refering directly to the contents of others’ messages; quoting Those old machines sure were something!; I agree that it is the quickest way Rourke, 2001 agreement/ disagreement (AG) expressing agreement or disagreement with others’ messages I’m with you on that; I agree; I think what you are saying is absolutely right Poole, 2000; Rourke, 2001 approval (AP) expressing approval, offering praise, encouragement You make a good point; Good luck as you continue to learn; Right on! Rourke, 2001 invitation (I) asking questions or otherwise inviting response Any suggestions?; How old are your students?; Would you describe that for me Gorham, 1988; Rourke, 2001 personal advice (PA) offering specific advice to classmates Also the CEC website might have some references; I would be happy to forward them emergent INTERACTIVE INDICATORS (Swan, 2003; Swan & Shih, 2005) How can we measure social presence?
  17. 17. SOCIAL PRESENCE OF PEERS 1. Online or web-based education is an excellent medium for social interaction. 2. I felt comfortable conversing through this medium. 3. The “Meet Your Classmates” section enabled me to form a sense of online community. 4. I felt comfortable participating in course discussions. 5. I felt comfortable interacting with other participants in the course. 6. I felt that other participants in the course acknowledged my point of view. 7. I was able to form distinct individual impressions of some course participants. 8. Online discussions enabled me to form a sense of community. (Richardson & Swan, 2003) How can we measure social presence?
  18. 18. SOCIAL PRESENCE OF INSTRUCTORS 1. The instructor created a feeling of online community. 2. The instructor facilitated discussions in the course. 3. I was able to form distinct individual impressions of the instructor in this course. 4. I felt comfortable conversing with the instructor through this medium. 5. My point of view was acknowledged by the instructor. (Swan & Shih, 2005) How can we measure social presence?
  19. 19. # statement 1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree 14 Getting to know other course participants gave me a sense of belonging in the course. 1 2 3 4 5 15 I was able to form distinct impressions of some course participants. 1 2 3 4 5 16 Online or web-based communication is an excellent medium for social interaction. 1 2 3 4 5 17 I felt comfortable conversing through the online medium. 1 2 3 4 5 18 I felt comfortable participating in the course discussions. 1 2 3 4 5 19 I felt comfortable interacting with other course participants. 1 2 3 4 5 20 I felt comfortable disagreeing with other course participants while still maintaining a sense of trust. 1 2 3 4 5 21 I felt that my point of view was acknowledged by other course participants. 1 2 3 4 5 22 Online discussions help me to develop a sense of collaboration. 1 2 3 4 5 (Arbaugh, Cleveland-Innes, Garrison, Ice, Richardson & Swan, 2008) How can we measure social presence?
  20. 20. • content analysis shows that students project their personalities into online discussion (Gunawardena, Lowe & Anderson,1997; Swan, 2002, 2003) • students make up for lack of visual & auditory cues through the use of purely text-based indicators of social presence (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Tu, 2000; Danchak, Walther, & Swan, 2001) • studies examining CMC participants’ experience of social presence -- “participants create social presence by projecting their identities and building online communities” (Walther, 1994; Gunawardena, 1995; Tu & McIssac, 2001) What difference does it make?
  21. 21. the ability of participants in a virtual community of inquiry to project themselves socially and emotionally, and to perceive each other as “real people” social presence What is it? 53 61 62 59 132 159 246 126 99 107 124 138 73 94 42 26 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 1 2 3 4 frequencies modules responses & indicators X module RESP RESP RESP RESP AFF AFF AFF AFF INTR INTR INTR INTR COH COH COH COH What difference does it make? (Swan, 2002, 2003)
  22. 22. § social presence predicts over 21% of the variance in retention § Online communication is an excellent medium for social interaction. § I was able to form distinct impressions of some course participants. (Boston, Diaz, Gibson, Ice, Richardson & Swan, 2009) What difference does it make?
  23. 23. social presence predicts satisfaction (Walther, 1994; Gunawardena, Lowe & Anderson,1997; Tu, 2002; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Maeda, Caskurlu, Lv & Richardson, 2017), perceived learning (Gunawardena, Lowe & Anderson, 1997; Danchak, Walther, & Swan, 2001; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Maeda, Caskurlu, Lv & Richardson, 2017) and actual learning (Picciano, 2003; Swan, Day, Bogle & Matthews, 2014) in online courses What difference does it make?
  24. 24. (Shea & Bidjermo, 2008) social presence teaching presence cognitive presence .52 (.52)** .52 (.49)** .49 (.47)** What difference does it make? social presence is a mediating variable between teaching and cognitive presence
  25. 25. How can we support the development of social presence?
  26. 26. RESEARCH FINDING Verbal immediacy behaviors can lesson the psychological distance between communicators online; overall sense of social presence is linked to satisfaction, learning, and retention in courses & programs IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Develop initial course activities to encourage the development of swift trust Model & encourage the use of verbal immediacy behaviors in interactions with students Encourage students to share experiences & beliefs in online discussion Explicitly introduce the notion of social presence & verbal immediacy to students How can we support the development of social presence?
  27. 27. RESEARCH FINDING Student learning is related to the quantity & quality of postings in online discussions & to the value instructors place on them IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Make participation in discussion a significant part of course grades Develop grading rubrics for discussion participation Require discussion participants to respond to their classmates postings &/or to respond to all responses to their own postings Stress the unique nature & potential of online discussion in student orientations How can we support the development of social presence?
  28. 28. RESEARCH FINDING Learning occurs socially within communities of practice; there is greater variability in sense of community ratings among online courses than in F2F courses; sense of community ratings correlated w/ indicators of teaching presence IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Design community building activities Model the use of cohesive immediacy behaviors in all interactions with students Develop initial course activities to encourage the development of swift trust Develop group activities and tasks Make discussion an important part of courses How can we support the development of social presence?
  29. 29. RESEARCH FINDING Course design is significantly related to the development of social presence IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Design for the development of social presence by including multiple and varied discussion forums and group activities Develop initial course activities to encourage the development of swift trust How can we support the development of social presence?
  30. 30. RESEARCH FINDING Instructors develop social presence through their interactions with students in a variety of activities IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Provide timely & supportive feedback Include social presence indicators in your feedback to students Reference related activities and student responses in feedback to students How can we support the development of social presence?
  31. 31. RESEARCH FINDING The quantity and quality of instructor interactions with students is linked to student learning; social presence develops from teaching presence IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Provide frequent opportunities for both public and private interactions with students Establish clear expectations for instructor-student interactions Provide timely & supportive feedback How can we support the development of social presence?
  32. 32. RESEARCH FINDING Instructor social presence and the social presence of peers are different & support different parts of the educational experience; similarly different students perceive & project differing amounts of social presence IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Design differing kinds of activities to support the development of instructor & peer social presence such as journaling and discussions Orient students to the notion of social learning and the importance of the social construction of knowledge Reward interactive immediacy behaviors How can we support the development of social presence?
  33. 33. RESEARCH FINDING Social presence develops in online discussions over time -- cohesive indicators are particularly important for building community at the beginning of a course; affective indicators are always important; interactive indicators become more important as the course progresses IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Model the use of social presence indicators and encourage students to use them through your responses Stress cohesive indicators in your postings at the beginning of a course, but as the course progresses encourage interactivity Require discussion participants to respond to their classmates postings &/or to respond to all responses to their own postings How can we support the development of social presence?
  34. 34. RESEARCH FINDING There is greater learning from online discussion when desired performance outcomes are scaffolded IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Use content & process scaffolds to support discourse behaviors Use peer review of discussion postings to shape responses Develop grading rubrics for discussion that reward desired cognitive behaviors Attend to subject lines How can we support the development of social presence?
  35. 35. RESEARCH FINDING Discussion threads die when participants don’t respond to them immediately IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Make students responsible for sustaining discussion threads Make students summarize discussion threads Require students to incorporate materials from the discussions in their assignments How can we support the development of social presence?
  36. 36. RESEARCH FINDING Vicarious interaction in online course discussion may be an important source of learning from them How can we support its development in online classes? IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Encourage & support vicarious interaction Require discussion summaries that identify steps in the knowledge creation process Use tracking mechanisms to reward reading as well as responding to messages
  37. 37. How can we support the development of social presence? technological effects
  38. 38. RESEARCH FINDING Audio feedback in written assignments enhances social presence & learning. RESEARCH FINDING Messaging, to both individuals & groups, can enhance instructor social presence but results are mixed IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Embed audio feedback in written assignments. Do voice over commentary on essays as you read them. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Incorporate social messages in announcements. Use email & texting to communicate with individual students. Journal with students regularly to “stay in touch.” How can we support the development of social presence?
  39. 39. RESEARCH FINDING IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Pictures added to introductions or other “meet your classmates” activities increase student perceptions of the social presence of their classmates Encourage students to attach photographs to their introductions Create a “photo roster” for your class & share with students so they can consult it when participating in discussion Have students choose five pictures of themselves to put in a “virtual paper bag” to share with their classmates How can we support the development of social presence?
  40. 40. RESEARCH FINDING IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Online video, both synchronous & asynchronous, can add to perceived & projected social presence Use video to introduce students to course, yourself, modules, assignments, etc. Hold synchronous video office hours. Use video feedback on assignments. Incorporate digital storytelling in assignments. Use asynchronous video in discussions. How can we support the development of social presence?
  41. 41. RESEARCH FINDING Social media, such as Facebook & Twitter, can support the development of social presence, but results are mixed. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Use Facebook as an LMS to elicit greater affective interaction among students. Use Twitter to support just-in-time social interactions (like interactions before & after class & in halls). How can we support the development of social presence?
  42. 42. • Media alone does not establish social presence -- people do. • The way you use communication technologies matters & your context should always influence your use • Teachers & students need practice using new communication technologies • Students & faculty do better with emerging technologies when you share the purpose for using them, . . . • . . . and when you give students technology options if appropriate (Lowenthal & Mulder, 2017) How can we support the development of social presence? technology tips
  43. 43. Social Presence in Online Learning Knowledge is socially constructed; learning is a social process; it is therefore important to deliberately support the development of social presence in online classes to support that process, whatever the format.
  44. 44. Karen Swan University of Illinois Springfield kswan4@uis.edu COLRS (Center for Online Learning, Research & Service) http://www.uis.edu/colrs

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