Handbook for Building Instructor Presence

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Handbook for Building Instructor Presence: A mini-course for instructors


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.


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.