Teaching Presence (1)

Instructional Presence is a construct used by many to research the role of the instructor in online learning. It is one way, not the only way, to understand the instructor’s role in the online class.
– Brian Newberry

 

 


1. In your own words, define Instructional Presence.

Instructors in online environments have to project their personality, position, and knowledge, aka their “presence”, into the instructional environment solely through technology. The instructor’s choice of technology dictates how the students “see” their instructor. Unlike in a F2F classroom the online instructor is often more of a guide through the learning experience rather than the all-knowing presence at the front of the classroom. This can be good and bad. Good because students can take charge of their learning. But bad because the instructor can seem distant. Establishing instructional presence in an online course can be difficult. Creative organization of the course material and easy access to the material is key. Communication and interaction should be easy and frequent. Even though online students are missing the physical cues of F2F, instructors should be authentic and caring and express their personality by whatever technology they feel comfortable using.

2. Name three things that your instructor identifies as contributing to Instructional Presence. Explain why these are, or are not consistent with your definition of Instructional Presence.

  • The use of media and the choice of media.
  • Effective communication that’s frequent, timely, and good quality.
  • A well designed course without barriers to engagement to maintain motivation.

When I look back at my own definition in question 1, I see all three of these elements. And I didn’t even plan it! To me, these seem like the basic rules to follow in designing, presenting, and managing any online course.

3. Who are the researchers most often identified with the construct of “Teaching Presence”?

According to our reading, Garrison, Anderson and Archer established the framework for understanding teaching presence in an article published in 2000. (Garrison) This framework was further defined by Swan, Garrison, and Richardson in an article published in 2009. A quick literature search showed that both these works have been frequently cited. DR Garrison has written many additional articles on teaching presence with other researchers as well. JB Arbaugh, Paul Gorsky, Young Ju Joo, Beth Rubin, Peter Shea, and K Swan have all written or co-written many articles on teaching presence too.

4. What are the three types of presence that Teaching Presence requires? Name and describe each.

The Community of Inquiry (CoI) model as described by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) states that online learning requires three types of teaching presence:

  • Social Presence is the ability of participants to identify with the community, communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by projecting their individual personalities.
  • Teaching Presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes. This includes Instructional Design and Organization, Facilitating Discourse, and Direct Instruction.
  • Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse.

5. Choose one of the three types of presence named in item #4 and identify ways and instructor can create or improve this type of presence in an online class.

Social presence involves the ability of an individual to project themselves as a “real person” in the online learning environment (Garrison 2000). Yet it is often hard for instructors to come across as real people in an online course. According to Constance Harris of Purdue University, there are many ways in which an instructor can create and improve social presence in an online class. Self-disclosure is key. Instructors can share work, professional, and personal interests, post photos and videos, and maintaini open, respectful, natural communication. In our readings, Professor Newberry outlined many ways to enhance social presence as well. Techniques to establish instructor social presence include:

  • Send welcoming messages and preliminary information about the course before it begins.
  • Create meet the instructor and course navigation videos to initiate students to social presence and help establish expectations.
  • Share information related to personal and professional interests.
  • Make your course site organized and easy to navigate.
  • Use the announcement forum to communicate important information about your course.
  • Set expectations at the beginning of your course for how often you will check messages and how soon
  • Provide timely feedback to students, using a variety of formats (i.e., email, phone, online office hours).
  • Share your expertise with students.
  • Use names when asking students to explain rationale or posing questions to them.
  • Monitor student progress.
  • Actively problem solve with students. (Harris)

6. Explain how the readings this week (and your own research) connects with the Blackboard discussion.

As usual, the reading and the discussion were closely aligned. The discussion questions made us think about the concepts that were introduced to us in the readings – Teaching Presence and the ways we can enhance our teaching presence in our own online classes. I enjoyed the readings on effective communication and the comparisons between F2F and online communication. The need for interesting media options was something that really resonated with me as did the similarities and major differences between teaching presence in F2F vs. online courses. There seems to be many impediments in the online teaching world, but with the right guidelines and tools instructors can create successful, interesting and enriching learning environments.

7. Quote your best entry from this week’s Blackboard discussion. Explain why you chose it and what it demonstrates about your understanding, learning process etc.

The following question about video feedback made me really think about the different uses of video in online classes. I realized I was not a fan of talking heads and yet I do see the benefit of instructor’s personal video for establishing that instructor’s social presence.

What do you think about video feedback? What are the advantages and disadvantages? When would you recommend an instructor try to use a technique like this?

According to an article Strategies for Providing Feedback in Online Courses on Illinois Online Network 

“Students need much more support and feedback in the online environment than in a traditional course. This is because the potential threat that students feel alienated is quite high in the Virtual Classroom. Using effective feedback strategies will enable the instructor to identify and meet individual student needs as well as encourage students to participate and continue to participate at a high quality level.”

While those of us in this class seem to agree that feedback and virtual interaction are important components of student success in online courses, I’m not convinced there’s an advantage to text vs. video vs. audio feedback and interaction in online classes. All of them establish a teaching presence and a personal connection between student and teacher. Videos and audio are more personal and students might find them more engaging, but their usefulness depends a lot on students’ on learning styles.

Posting lectures via video is a common practice in online courses and it creates a simulated F2F connection. Students do love to see what their instructor looks like so having videos available adds a “fun” aspect to the class. However, it’s important to provide options such as audio, captions, and text, as the two ETEC courses I’m taking this semester do, and to make sure that what’s provided is ADA compliant. I have used video lectures in my hybrid class but only if I’m not going to meet with students in person on a given week, and even then I’ve done it only rarely.

Screen captures are one type of video interaction that I feel are most useful and that I use regularly. They can be explanatory pieces or demonstrations of how to do something. These audiovisual interface allows for a lot of added content by the creator and allows the viewer to pause, replay, etc. therefore allowing students to learn at their own pace. I use Camtasia and Jing extensively to create tutorials for using library resources and services.

Providing individual feedback to students on assignments via video or audio seems to be less common. It is certainly more time-consuming for the instructor than simple written feedback to individual students. But depending on the student, personal video or audio feedback could be more impactful. In an article ‘Speaking to Students’ with Audio Feedback in Online Courses from online learning insights the author provides two easy to use “record and send” methods on how to provide audio feedback. He claims the learning curve for instructors is short but the end result really “packs a punch” and is welcome by students.

I haven’t asked students to communicate with me via video because at Cerritos College, and I know this might be hard to believe, many students don’t have the skills to create and upload videos. If instructors require that the students interact online with video, there must be some instruction on how to do so. A simple solution could be the use of an avatar site such as Voki. Has anyone tried something like this? It’s lots of fun and really easy to use.

References

Morrison, Debbie. Speaking to students’ with audio feedback in online courses. (2013)Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/speaking-to-students-with-audio-feedback-in-online-courses/

Strategies for providing feedback in online courses. (n.d.). Illinois Online Network. Retrieved from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/communication/feedback.asp

8. Identify the student you think was the most important participant in the Blackboard discussion. Explain why and provide at least one quote from that student’s contributions to the Blackboard discussion.

It seems to me there were a lot of similarities in the posts this week, especially the ones regarding teaching presence, so it’s difficult for me to point to one student who distinguished themselves above the others. I enjoy reading posts from practicing teachers because I get a lot of tips. And I always find Daniel’s posts enlightening, well researched, and well written. Which leads me to wonder how does our instructor identify the most important participant each week? Quantity? Quality? Style? Format?

9. Reflect on what you have learned this week. What have you learned that has the potential to inform or influence you or your practice of online learning going forward? Explain why.

Thanks to our reading this week I will keep in mind that teaching online can suffer from the lack of typical interaction and feedback that’s present in F2F courses. In the lecture Newberry states that instructors in online environments have to project their personality and position into the instructional environment through technology. There should be authentic communication via this technology that expresses the instructor’s personality. Teaching presence through technology!  I never really thought of it in those terms. These are simple ideas that can help tremendously in any online class. To achieve an appropriate level of teacher presence I’ll always try to follow the recommendations in our readings:

  • Design the course and the course delivery system appropriately.
  • Explain course content in an understandable manner.
  • Make sure students are engaged in the creation of their knowledge. Allow them to ask questions and participate as much as possible in a variety of formats.
  • Facilitate discourse so that students stay interested and motivated thoughout the course.
  • Maintain direct interaction and communicate with each student individually at least once a week.

References

Garrison, DR, Anderson, T, and Archer, W. Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: computer conferencing in higher education. (2000). The Internet and Higher Education. 2(2-3): 87-105. Retrieved from http://cde.athabascau.ca/coi_site/documents/Garrison_Anderson_Archer_Critical_Inquiry_model.pdf

Harris, C. Instructor presence in an online course. (2013). Distance Education, Getting Started. Purdue University, Instructional Development Center Blog. Retrieved from https://www.purdue.edu/learning/blog/?p=6232

Swan, K., Garrison, R., and Richardson, J. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning: the community of inquiry framework. In Payne, C.R. (Ed.) Information Technology and Constructivism in Higher Education: Progressive Learning Frameworks. Hersy, PA : IGI Global, 43-57. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/398997/A_Constructivist_Approach_to_Online_Learning_The_Community_of_Inquiry_Framework


Other Discussion Topics This Week

1. What do you think about video feedback? What are the advantages and disadvantages? When would you recommend an instructor try to use a technique like this?

According to an article Strategies for Providing Feedback in Online Courses on Illinois Online Network 

“Students need much more support and feedback in the online environment than in a traditional course. This is because the potential threat that students feel alienated is quite high in the Virtual Classroom. Using effective feedback strategies will enable the instructor to identify and meet individual student needs as well as encourage students to participate and continue to participate at a high quality level.”

While those of us in this class seem to agree that feedback and virtual interaction are important components of student success in online courses, I’m not convinced there’s an advantage to text vs. video vs. audio feedback and interaction in online classes. All of them establish a teaching presence and a personal connection between student and teacher. Videos and audio are more personal and students might find them more engaging, but their usefulness depends a lot on students’ on learning styles.

Posting lectures via video is a common practice in online courses and it creates a simulated F2F connection. Students do love to see what their instructor looks like so having videos available adds a “fun” aspect to the class. However, it’s important to provide options such as audio, captions, and text, as the two ETEC courses I’m taking this semester do, and to make sure that what’s provided is ADA compliant. I have used video lectures in my hybrid class but only if I’m not going to meet with students in person on a given week, and even then I’ve done it only rarely.

Screen captures are one type of video interaction that I feel are most useful and that I use regularly. They can be explanatory pieces or demonstrations of how to do something. These audiovisual interface allows for a lot of added content by the creator and allows the viewer to pause, replay, etc. therefore allowing students to learn at their own pace. I use Camtasia and Jing extensively to create tutorials for using library resources and services.

Providing individual feedback to students on assignments via video or audio seems to be less common. It is certainly more time-consuming for the instructor than simple written feedback to individual students. But depending on the student, personal video or audio feedback could be more impactful. In an article ‘Speaking to Students’ with Audio Feedback in Online Courses from online learning insights the author provides two easy to use “record and send” methods on how to provide audio feedback. He claims the learning curve for instructors is short but the end result really “packs a punch” and is welcome by students.

I haven’t asked students to communicate with me via video because at Cerritos College, and I know this might be hard to believe, many students don’t have the skills to create and upload videos. If instructors require that the students interact online with video, there must be some instruction on how to do so. A simple solution could be the use of an avatar site such as Voki. Has anyone tried something like this? It’s lots of fun and really easy to use.

References

Morrison, Debbie. Speaking to students’ with audio feedback in online courses. (2013)Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/speaking-to-students-with-audio-feedback-in-online-courses/

Strategies for providing feedback in online courses. (n.d.). Illinois Online Network. Retrieved from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/communication/feedback.asp

What are some concepts related to instructional presence or teaching presence that resonate with your experience?

2. What practices (delivery especially) do you think it is most important for an instructor to do in order to achieve an appropriate level of teaching presence?

Since I teach a hybrid course I do meet with my students regularly. I feel lucky in that regard and I enjoy the combination of F2F interaction while using technology pretty extensively.

Thanks to our reading this week I will keep in mind that teaching online can suffer from the lack of typical interaction and feedback that’s present in F2F courses. In the lecture Newberry states that instructors in online environments have to project their personality and position into the instructional environment through technology. There should be authentic communication via this technology that expresses the instructor’s personality. Teaching presence through technology!  I never really thought of it in those terms. These are simple ideas that can help tremendously in any online class. To achieve an appropriate level of teacher presence I’d follow the recommendations in our readings:

  • Design the course and the course delivery system appropriately.
  • Explain course content in an understandable manner.
  • Make sure students are engaged in the creation of their knowledge. Allow them to ask questions and participate as much as possible in a variety of formats.
  • Facilitate discourse so that students stay interested and motivated throughout the course.
  • Maintain direct interaction and communicate with each student individually at least once a week.
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