Social presence in online learning: Past, present, and future


Richardson, J., Swan, K., Lowenthal, P., & Ice, P. (2016). Social presence in online learning: Past, present, and future. In Proceedings of Global Learn 2016 (pp. 477-483). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.


For over twenty years, researchers and practitioners have explored different frameworks and theories, in order to improve upon and better understand students’ learning experiences and needs in online environments. Social presence has emerged as a key factor in student satisfaction and success in online courses and programs. Researchers, though, continue to define social presence in different ways, use various instruments to measure it, and almost incessantly investigate how every new technology influences it—often leaving practitioners and even other researchers at a loss. This paper examines these issues by reviewing the history of social presence, looking at the different ways researchers define it, highlighting key findings from a recent metaanalysis on social presence, and presenting three different conceptual lenses used by social presence researchers

Keywords: Social presence, Community, Community of Inquiry, Online learning

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