Laura Shrader Portfolio
Hi everyone! I'm a full time Instructional Designer at a university. I have worked in Higher Education for nearly 20 years.
My Topic and Purpose
A key component of Community of Inquiry Model is Teacher Presence. Teacher presence is the binding ingredient in establishing both social and cognitive presence, as well as, a community of learners in an online learning environment. Broadly speaking, the teacher builds presence through course design and management, building student understanding and providing instruction in the course (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000). For the purpose of this course, I will refer to teacher presence as instructor presence, as the term instructor is more commonly used in the context of a Higher Education learning environment.
Specifically, some examples of ways that instructors establish online presence include interacting with the course and students consistently, communicating course goals, providing clear and consistent feedback to students, moderating discussions effectively, providing encouragement for student participation and acknowledging it when it occurs, and, as the subject matter expert, contributing expertise through discussion (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006). The development of an instructor’s online presence influences students’ “sense of connectedness and learning” (Shea, Li, & Pickett, 2006, p. 177).
Another way to describe students’ connectedness is students feeling a sense of community in the classroom. This sense of community can be described as students feeling as though they belong, that they can count on one another, and that their “educational needs will be met through their commitment to shared learning goals” (McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Sarason, 1974; Unger & Wandesman, 1985; as cited in Rovai, 2002, p. 322).
The purpose of this course is to familiarize participants with the concept of instructor presence, and all that it encompasses including its impact on the development of community in an online classroom. Additionally, this course explores the intersection of humanizing an online course and the development of instructor presence in an online course. Finally, participants will become fluent in the steps they can take to develop instructor presence in an online course.
At the end of this course, learners should be able to:
- Articulate the definition of instructor presence
- Understand the role that that instructor presence plays in community development in an online course
- Analyze the intersection of humanizing a course and instructor presence
- Create instructor presence in an online course
The Instructional Problem
Students appreciate online courses for their flexibility and convenience. However, one challenge of learning online is that students can develop feelings of isolation and lack connection to their instructor and peers due to the fact that learning occurs at a distance (Oyarzun, Barreto & Conklin, 2018). In addition, if a course is poorly designed, the instructor can come across as distant and students will have a difficult time connecting to both the course and the instructor (Krislov, 2019).
Presence is another way to say "being there" (Slater, 1999 as cited in Oyarzun et al., 2018) and when students feel the presence of the instructor, it helps connect them to the content, the instructor and their peers. In fact, instructor presence has a direct impact on student "satisfaction, engagement, and achievement" (Oyarzun et al., 2018, p.626). Examples of establishing instructor presence include facilitating and engaging students in online discussions, keeping lines of communication open, providing encouragement and timely feedback, and establishing clear course expectations. While taking actions to establish presence in an online course, an instructor also contributes to students feeling a sense of community in the course (Bolliger and Martin, 2018).
The interesting part about presence is that in a face to face course, presence naturally occurs. In an online course, the instructor must exert effort to create presence through purposeful course design and regularly engaging the students in the course (Krislov, 2019).
What is to be Learned
This mini-course will communicate what constitutes instructor presence, and the impact instructor presence has on the student experience in an online course. This course will also deliver information about how an instructor can humanize their online course, and as a result, contribute to instructor presence.
This mini-course is directed towards full and part-time university instructors. These instructors may be new to online teaching and learning or they might be experienced in teaching online courses.
Context for Instruction
This mini-course is completed online on the KNILT website. Therefore, participants need to have access to a computer and reliable internet.
Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution
Participants will explore the impact on students of poorly designed courses that lack instructor presence. Through activities and discussion, participants will expand their knowledge on the subject of developing instructor presence, and how they can apply this knowledge to their online courses.
Goals of this Mini-Course
The goals of this mini- course include raising awareness about the impact that developing instructor presence has on student satisfaction and engagement in online learning, and the development of online community. Also, this course aims to provide instructors with practical knowledge that they can apply directly to their courses to establish presence.
- Learners will be able to identify tools that can be used to build instructor presence
- Learners will be able to initiate the development of an online community
- Learners will be able to integrate humanizing principles into their own course
- Learners will be able to create a road map detailing their plans to build instructor presence
Course Purpose This mini-course will introduce instructors to the concept of instructor presence, how it can be created and its role in the development of community, resulting in the ability to apply the concepts to their own course.
At the end of this course, learners will be able to:
- Articulate the definition of instructor presence
- Understand the role that instructor presence plays in community development
- Analyze the intersection of humanizing a course and building instructor presence
- Create instructor presence in their course
In order to reach outcomes, learners must know/learn to:
- Understand the nature of online learning
- Possess a general understanding of the support online students need to be successful
- Navigate a learning management system
- Apply the use of technology to enhance their online course
- Apply the knowledge from this mini-course to their online instruction
For ease in reaching learning outcomes, learners should:
- Be intrinsically motivated
- Be open to self-reflection
- Possess a desire to build an online community
- Possess a desire to help students succeed in an online learning environment
References and Resources
Arbaugh, J.B. & Hwang, A. (2006). Does “teaching presence” exist in online MBA courses? Internet and Higher Education, 9, 9-21.
Bolliger, D.U. & Martin, F. (2018). Instructor and student perceptions of online student engagement strategies. Distance Education, 39(4), 568-583.
Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
Krislov, M. (2019, September 25). The importance of presence offline and online in higher education. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/marvinkrislov/2019/09/25/the-importance-of-presence-offline-and-online-in-higher-education/#2e7456482329
Oyarzun, B., Barreto, D., & Conklin, S. (2018). Instructor social presence effects on learner social presence, achievement, and satisfaction. TechTrends, 62, 625-634.
Rovai, A.P. (2002). Sense of community, perceived cognitive learning, and persistence in asynchronous learning networks. The Internet and Higher Education, 5, 319-332.
Shea, P., Li, C.S., Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 9, 175-190.