Handbook for Building Instructor Presence

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This course introduction/front page shows what information should be provided about each mini-course. This is only an example. Feel free to modify/adapt as you'd like. I want our mini-courses to be creative, instead of only uniformed.


Think about the last time you enrolled in a course, completed a workshop, or engaged in an online training. Did you know anything about the instructor? Did you feel connected to the instructor in a way that influenced your participation in the course, workshop or training? Think about what you learned. Would you have acquired greater understanding through the presence of the instructor or facilitator? By building teacher, or instructor presence, an instructor has the ability to influence the development of a community, as well as, student engagement in and success in a course.

The concept of instructor presence is particularly important in an online course because 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).

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.

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.

This course is organized into three units:

  • Understanding Instructor Presence and Online Community
  • Identifying Humanizing Principles
  • Designing for Instructor Presence

Following the units in order will be the easiest to understand, and will help participants gain the most from this course. The target audience includes both full and part time instructors in a community college,college or university setting who design and teach courses online.

Needs Assessment

Briefly summarize what you found out from your needs assessment regarding the learners' gaps of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that your mini-course means to address.

Performance Objectives

State the course-level objectives here. Sometimes, when the course objectives actually map onto the unit objectives, it is fine to combine the objectives with the following unit structure to state the objective(s) of each unit.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: xxx

Brief overview

Unit 2: xxx

Brief Overview

Unit 3: xxx

Brief Overview ...

Extended 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.