Social Presence in the Web-based Synchronous Secondary Classroom
Abstract: The purpose of the study reported on in this paper was to explore how teachers and students manifest social presence in the web-based synchronous secondary classroom (WBSSC). Data were collected using structured and unstructured observations of twelve online recordings of web-based synchronous classes in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Structured observations were guided by an instrument developed by Rourke, Anderson, Garrison and Archer (2001) for identifying and measuring social presence in an online context. Findings revealed that teachers and students relied on different tools when providing affective, interactive and cohesive responses related to social presence. Manifestations of social presence by the teachers occurred through use of two-way audio whereas students relied on text-based Direct Messaging. Expressions of social presence by the students and teachers occurred most often in a context of digressions that drew attention away from the delivery of content. In addition, students demonstrated social presence using discourse conventions transferred from informal social contexts of instant messaging such as ICQ and MSN.