Social Presence: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?


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  • Social Presence: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?

    1. 1. Social Presence What is it? And Why Does it Matter? Patrick R. Lowenthal |
    2. 2. A little bit about me <ul><li>Georgia boy living in Colorado </li></ul><ul><li>Wife and two girls (10 & 4) </li></ul><ul><li>Spent past 7 years working with online learning </li></ul><ul><li>Been an online student / teach online </li></ul><ul><li>Research Interests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructional Communication (e.g., storytelling / presence) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems of Practice </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. What is it?
    4. 4. Does Presence = present ? ? ? ?
    5. 7. Social Presence Theory <ul><li>Communications Studies Group at the University College in London in the 1970s </li></ul><ul><li>Short, J.A., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976).  The social psychology of telecommunications .  New York: John Wiley & Sons. </li></ul>
    6. 8. Original Definition Social presence is the degree of salience (i.e., quality or state of being there ) between two communicators using a communication medium.
    7. 9. What does that mean? <ul><li>It’s a quality of a communication medium. </li></ul><ul><li>Some media (e.g., video) have higher social presence than other media (e.g., audio) </li></ul><ul><li>Mediums with high social presence are sociable, warm, and personal; mediums with low social presence are as less personal. </li></ul>
    8. 10. For Example
    9. 13.
    10. 14. Why does this matter ?
    11. 15. Our lives have Changed
    12. 16. We are social beings!
    13. 17. Learning is social !
    14. 18. Computer-mediated Communication <ul><li>Early CMC Research Suggested </li></ul><ul><li>CMC is a lean medium </li></ul><ul><li>CMC is better at task oriented communication </li></ul><ul><li>CMC is inherently antisocial and impersonal </li></ul>
    15. 19. If learning is social and CMC antisocial, where does leave us?
    16. 20. The Emergence of Online Learning <ul><li>Proponents and practitioners argued </li></ul><ul><li>CMC can support the social practice of learning and be very interpersonal </li></ul><ul><li>Learners can present themselves as being “real” as well as “connect” with others </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptions of social presence, and behaviors used to make up for missing cues, matter just as much, if not more, than a medium’s supposed capabilities </li></ul>
    17. 21. Phases of Social Presence Research
    18. 22. Research on Social Presence <ul><li>Researchers have shown—in varying degrees: </li></ul><ul><li>A relationship between social presence and student satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>A relationship between social presence and the development of a community of learners </li></ul><ul><li>A relationship between social presence and perceived learning </li></ul>
    19. 23. Why does this matter to me ?
    20. 24. Limitations of Past Research
    21. 25. 1. Multiple Definitions <ul><li>Social Presence is, </li></ul><ul><li>the “sense of being with another” (Biocca, Harms, & Burgoon) </li></ul>
    22. 26. 1. Multiple Definitions <ul><li>Social Presence is, </li></ul><ul><li>the “sense of being with another” (Biocca, Harms, & Burgoon) </li></ul><ul><li>“ the degree to which a person is perceived as a ‘real person’” (Gunawardena) </li></ul>
    23. 27. 1. Multiple Definitions <ul><li>Social Presence is, </li></ul><ul><li>the “sense of being with another” (Biocca, Harms, & Burgoon) </li></ul><ul><li>“ the degree to which a person is perceived as a ‘real person’” (Gunawardena) </li></ul><ul><li>“ a student’s sense of being in and belonging in a course and the ability to interact with other students and an instructor” (Picciano) </li></ul>
    24. 28. 2. Conceptual / Methodological <ul><li>Social Presence is very contextual but research has not adequately focused on the context and how context changes everything </li></ul><ul><li>Gunawardena studied online conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Rourke et al. only analyzed one week of discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Wise et al. studies six week long independent study courses </li></ul>
    25. 29. 3. Contradicting Findings <ul><li>Some researchers have found that social presence behaviors decrease over time (Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 2001a), while others have not (Stacey, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Picciano (2002) found a relationship between social presence and student learning, while Wise et al. (2004) did not </li></ul>
    26. 30. My Current Research <ul><li>I am currently conducting two studies: </li></ul><ul><li>Revisiting indicators of social presence in online discussions (with mixed and multiple methods) with a specific focus on their relationship to student learning </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in social and teaching presence across discourse communities in accelerated courses </li></ul>
    27. 31. One Example Affective Responses <ul><li>Expression of emotions </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Humor </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Disclosure </li></ul>Cohesive Responses <ul><li>Vocatives </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Inclusive Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>Phatics / Salutations </li></ul>+ + = <ul><li>Continuing a Thread </li></ul><ul><li>Quoting from Other Messages </li></ul><ul><li>Referring Explicitly to Other Messages </li></ul><ul><li>Asking Questions </li></ul><ul><li>Complimenting / Expressing Appreciation </li></ul><ul><li>Expressing Agreement </li></ul>Interactive Responses Social Presence
    28. 32. Category & Indicators Definition of Indicators Examples Affective Responses Paralanguage Features of text outside formal syntax used to convey emotion (i.e., emoticons, exaggerated punctuation or spelling) Someday……; How awful for you  ; Mathcad is definitely NOT stand along software; Absolutely!!!!! Emotion Use of descriptive words that indicate feelings (i.e., love, sad, hate, silly) When I make a spelling mistake, I look and feel stupid; I get chills when I think of … Value Expressing personal values, beliefs, and attitudes I think it is a necessary evil; I feel our children have the same rights Humor Use of humour—teasing cajoling, irony, sarcasm, understatement God forbid leaving your house to go to the library Self-Disclosure Sharing personal information, expressing vulnerability I sound like an old lady; I am a closet writer; We had a similar problem Interactive Responses Acknowledgement Referring directly to the contents of others’ messages; quoting from others’ messages agreement Those ‘old machines’ sure were something; we won by a landslide – ‘landslide’ (next response) Disagreement Expressing agreement or disagreement with other’s messages I’m with you on that; I agree; I think what you are saying is right Approval Expressing approval, offering praise, encouragement You make a good point; Right on; Good luck as you continue to learn Invitation Asking questions or otherwise inviting response Any suggestions?; Would you describe that for me, I am unfamiliar with the term Personal Advice Offering specific advice to classmates Also the CEC website might have some references Cohesive Responses Greetings & Salutations Greetings, closures Hi Mary; That’s it for now, Tom Vocatives Addressing classmates by name You know, Tamara, …; I totally agree with you Katherine Group Reference Referring to the group as ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ We need to be educated; Our use of the Internet may not be free Social Sharing Sharing information unrelated to the course Happy Birthday!! to both of you!!! Self-reflection Reflection on the course itself, a kind of self-awareness of the group I would never have imagined that we could have been having a discussion like this when we first started this course
    29. 33. Strategies to Improve Social Presence
    30. 34. Examples Provided by the Literature Instructional Design: Instructors: Students: <ul><li>Develop overviews </li></ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for student and teacher profiles within the learning management system </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate audio and video within the course content following best practices for teaching and learning and ADA compliance standards </li></ul><ul><li>Limit class size </li></ul><ul><li>Structure collaborative learning activities </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize group work strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Develop open-ended, critical thinking discussion questions </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate reflective activities </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize continuous and authentic assessment strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Post introductions and expectations documents before the students are given access to the course. </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute to discussion forum throughout the week </li></ul><ul><li>Provide suggested due dates for initial postings that promote mid-week engagement as opposed to weekend only postings </li></ul><ul><li>Launch discussion threads and summarize each thread at the end of the week </li></ul><ul><li>Promptly answer e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Provide frequent feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Send progress reports on participation and quality of postings </li></ul><ul><li>Strike up a conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Share personal stories and professional experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Use expressions of emotions, e.g. (smile) or (grin). </li></ul><ul><li>Address students by name </li></ul><ul><li>Allow students options for addressing the instructor </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute to discussion forum throughout the week as opposed to waiting for the weekend </li></ul><ul><li>Promptly answer e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Strike up a conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Share personal stories and experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Ask open-ended questions that promote discussion and require critical thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Use expressions of emotions, e.g. (smile) or (grin). </li></ul>
    31. 35. Can you think of any strategies?
    32. 36. Strategies I Use <ul><li>Learning stories </li></ul><ul><li>Digital storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Regular participation in discussion forums </li></ul><ul><li>Cyber Cafés </li></ul><ul><li>Fun activities (e.g., Let’s Rock) </li></ul><ul><li>Use first names </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative communication tools (e.g., Twitter) </li></ul><ul><li>Synchronous video enabled chats </li></ul>
    33. 37. Questions?
    34. 38. Resources <ul><li>Digital Storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, P., & Dunlap, J. (2007). Digital Stories. In P. Shank (Ed.), The online learning idea book: 95 proven ways to enhance technology-based and blended learning (pp. 110-111). S an Francisco: Pfeiffer. </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Digital storytelling: An emerging institutional technology? In K. McWilliam & J. Hartley (Eds.), Story circle: Digital storytelling around the world. Wiley- Blackwell. </li></ul><ul><li>Yuhnke, B., Thai, A., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2008). TechHEds podcast on digital storytelling. Denver, CO: CU Online. Available at: </li></ul><ul><li>Social and Teaching Presence </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, P. R., & Parscal, T. (2008). Teaching presence. The Learning Curve, 3(4), 1-2, 4. Yuhnke, B., Thai, A., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2008). TechHEds podcast on social presence. Denver, CO: CU Online. Available at: </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Social presence. In P. Rogers, G. Berg, J. Boettcher, C. Howard, L. Justice, & K. Schenk (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance and online learning (2nd ed., pp. 1900-1906). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, P. R. (in Press). The evolution and influence of social presence theory on online learning. To appear in T. T. Kidd (Ed.), Online education and adult learning: New frontiers for teaching practices. Hershey, PA: IGI Global </li></ul><ul><li>Lowenthal, A., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009, April). Revisiting teaching presence: An analysis of teaching presence across discourse communities. Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Diego, CA. </li></ul><ul><li>Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (under review). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Submitted to Journal of Information Systems Education. </li></ul>