Teaching Presence

Hello and welcome to the Sloan-C presentation
on Online Teaching Presence. This presentation reviews the basics of the concept of teaching
presence from the perspective of the Community of Inquiry Framework. During this presentation, I will introduce
you to the Community of Inquiry framework, including specific strategies for creating
a strong teaching presence and how those strategies can impact learning. John Dewey once said, “Education occurs
when individuals interact with their learning environment.” The learning environment includes you, the
students, the content, and the technology used for teaching and learning. According to past and current research in
online learning, much of which is based on the Community of Inquiry framework, it is
the interactions in the learning environment that have the greatest impact on learning.
This research confirms what Dewey said so long ago. The Community of Inquiry (COI) is a well-respected
framework for online learning in higher education. The COI looks at three elements – social
presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence – to structure the learning experience. Each type of presence is derived from interactions
among faculty, students, and content in the online environment and those interactions
are key to successful learning. All three types of presence overlap so actions
taken by the teacher impact the social presence of everyone in the learning environment and
impact the cognitive presence of the learners. Through actions such as setting the curriculum,
determining teaching methods and learning activities, sharing personal meaning, and
focusing discussions, teachers establish a sense of their presence in the course and
guide the development of social and cognitive presence. This presence is felt by the students and
forms the basis for their learning. While we will be focusing on teaching presence
in this presentation, you can learn more about all aspects of the Community of Inquiry framework
by visiting
http://communitiesofinquiry.com Social presence is defined as “the ability
of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting
themselves as real people.” Social Presence is created by you and your
students. In other words, your presence in the course room helps guide the development
of social presence for everyone. When thinking about your online class, think
about how you will project yourself as a real person in the course and how you will help
your students project themselves as real people. Typically, this will involve setting a climate
of trust as well as creating activities that encourage students to share their ideas and
beliefs on a topic. It can be challenging, but also extremely
valuable, to help everyone feel as if their voice matters in the course. Cognitive Presence is defined as “the extent
to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are
able to construct meaning through sustained communication. Cognitive Presence is created by the interactions
among you, the students, and the content of your course. Your presence sets the climate for where learning
and knowledge sharing occurs. When planning your course, consider how you
will encourage cognitive presence to develop. Typical strategies to increase cognitive presence
include using various textbooks, articles, web sources, and personal experiences as learning
materials to enrich the learning experience for your students and help develop that sustained
communication essential to learning. Teaching Presence is defined as “the design,
facilitation, and direction of the cognitive and social processes for the purposes of realizing
personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.” Teaching presence are the sum of your actions
and interactions as you design, facilitate, and direct learning experiences in your course. As you design your course, consider how you
will project your presence. According to the Community of Inquiry framework,
teaching presence is established in 3 ways: the instructional design and organization
of the course, direction instruction, and facilitating discourse. Teacher activities in the instructional design
and organization category that support presence include developing curriculum, designing group
and individual learning activities, setting schedules, and providing guidelines for interaction
and learning in the course. Activities in the direct instruction category
that help establish teaching presence include providing intellectual and scholarly leadership
as well as demonstrating subject and pedagogical expertise. Finally, the facilitator who actively participates
in discussions and establishes and models discourse that sustains and supports social
and cognitive presence is another key part of teaching presence. It is through all these things that teaching
presence is established and maintained in a course. For a detailed list of research on teaching
presence and its impact on learning, please review Relationships between Interactions
and Learning in Online Environments at http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/books/pdf/interactions.pdf This document also includes tips for things
to do in the classroom based on the research cited. More research is always being done in this
area and it continues to support earlier research that serves as the foundation for current
work, so while the document is from 2004, it is still meaningful and relevant to today’s
online teacher. Based on the research compiled in the Relationships
between Interactions and Learning in Online Environments, these are some recommended strategies
you can use in your courses to have a positive impact on learning via teaching presence. Where teaching presence overlaps social presence
strategies, teaching presence includes “setting climate.” Strategies for setting climate include putting
netiquette tips in your syllabus, displaying discourse rubrics that include criteria that
emphasize sharing experiences and beliefs, posting an introductory audio/video message
so students can get a sense of who the teacher is, and requiring introductions discussions
to begin to establish community. Where teaching and cognitive presence overlap,
teaching presence includes “selecting content.” Strategies for selecting content include introducing
content that emphasizes diverse perspectives to encourage complex understanding, displaying
rubrics with criteria that emphasize cognitive behaviors, encouraging discourse for divergent
thinking, and establishing group collaborative activities for convergent thinking. Of course, there are many more examples for
all areas of teaching presence. A quick Google search will provide you with some more unique
ideas, as will reviewing Relationships between Interactions and Learning in Online Environments. In their early research, Anderson, Rourke,
Garrison, and Archer compared teaching presence in two courses. They noted, “In the education
course, the student moderators were performing a substantial part of the teaching presence
role. We have observed this in a number of online courses. This supports our decision to refer to this
element of the community of inquiry as ‘teaching presence’ rather than ‘teacher presence’
as a number of individuals who are not teachers often collaborate in carrying out this role.” In your courses, will your students help you
carry out the teaching presence role? How might you do this? Thank you! We wish you success in establishing
a sense of teaching presence in your courses.

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