Social presence for the online learners fosters a high degree of learning and collaboration. It involves instructor presence and cognitive presence. This post looks at instructor presence. The aim of developing social presence is to build community in which each learner feels a sense of belonging and can own the learning. Learners who are left out in cyberspace to fend for themselves experience isolation, rejection and are justified to claim that they feel cheated.
What are some of the benefits of social presence?
- Much more learning takes place
- Learners are more likely to finish their course of study
- Learners gain confidence
- Critical thinking skills develop to an even greater degree because of activities such as peer review
How can the instructor achieve social presence?
- Make your presence be felt from the start! Send a welcome message to learners
- Encourage learners to update their profiles
- Use icebreaker activities to have learners get to know each other and be a part of the experience
- Choose activities that call for collaboration among learners such as forums, videoconferencing and workshops
- Do not make the class size too large, if large, form groups
- Contribute to the online discussions, it is not only for the learners
- Respond to questions and comments as often as possible
- Inform learners of ways to contact you, especially by email
- Take time out to know learners’ names and use it in the conversations
- Do not post warning messages to learners