Social Presence, Identity, and Online Learning Research: Research Development and Need


Lowenthal, P. R., & Dennen, V. (2017). Social presence, identity, and online learning: Research development and need. Distance Education, 38(2), 137-140.


Scholars across many disciplines have grappled with questions of what it means for a person to be and interact online. Who are we when we go online? How do others know we are there and how do they perceive us? Within the context of online learning, scholarly questions tend to reflect more specific concerns focused on how well people can learn in a setting limited to mediated interactions lacking various communication cues. For example, how can a teacher and students come to know each other if they cannot see each other? How can they effectively understand and communicate with each other if they are separated by space and, in many instances, time? These concerns are related to issues of social presence and identity, both of which are complex, multi-faceted, closely interrelated constructs.

Keywords: Social presence, Identity, Online Learning, Community of Inquiry, Special Issue, Distance Education

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