Social presence in online learning communities: the role of personal profiles. Karen Kear, Frances Chetwynd and
Helen Jefferis (2014)
Key seminal quote from the paper: A feeling of impersonality when communicating online has been characterised as a lack of 'social presence' (Short, Williams, and Christie 1976).
-Methodology is an iterative 'mixed method' quant/qual approach and is rationalised.
-Limitations identified in recognition of small sample size.
-'The findings suggest that personal profiles and photos help some online learners to feel in touch with each other. Other learners, however, do not feel the need for these facilities, have privacy concerns or prefer to focus on the forum'
Some further detail
'Online communication is now used to support learning and build community in universities, schools and many other organisations. This has considerable benefits for learners and for teachers, but it also raises problems (Kear 2011; Palloff and Pratt 2007). One common difficulty is that learners can find text-based online environments impersonal, because of the lack of communication cues such as facial expression and tone of voice.In asynchronous online environments (for example, discussion forums), the possible delays between a contribution and any responses can exacerbate the problem. These issues are important because they affect levels of participation and interaction, and therefore have an influence on learning.'
THIS REFERS TO THE QUALITY OF INTERACTON: AND I INTERPRET THE MAJOR IMPACT OF A LOW SOCIAL PRESENCE THEN-AS A WAY TO SEE USERS OFF!(- again, from paper...if online learners experience a lack of social presence this may result in low levels of engagement, and even to withdrawal from the online environment, Wegerif 1998).
Conclusions/Implications for the future
·-T This brings us back to the conclusions about social presence by Gunawardena and
Zittle (1997) and by Swan (2002). These researchers identified that, in text-based
online learning environments, participants create social presence for each other
through their interactions.
·- Online communication can seem impersonal to some students, leading to poor online
relationships, or lack of participation. It is therefore of value to consider how online
learning environments can be designed and used in ways that increase social presence.
·-w We should think of social presence as 'a dynamic sense of others and
relationships with them in mediated environments' (Kehrwald 2010. p. 45), rather
than something that can be easily conveyed via a static personal profile.
MY CONCLUSION: THIS RESEARCH SUPPORTS THE NOTION OF THE NEED TO EXAMINE PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ENHANCEMENT
And a supporting quote from the research paper in relation to that point:
In spite of the characteristics of the medium, student perceptions of the social and human qualities of CMC [computer-mediated communication] will depend on the social presence created by the instructors/moderators and the online community. (p. 23)