In 1975, Weinberg (2001) first posed the challenging question that we, as educators, are unfortunately still struggling to answer: Why are we so unable to anticipate the second order effects of the first order victories of science and technology? Forty years later, education is still struggling to identify and address the second order effects of the technological changes that exploded around 1995 with the advent of the worldwide web. Faculty still struggle with rapid technological developments. Students desire greater flexibility with online learning and seek learning that embeds the technological formats they use in their day-to-day lives. Institutions of higher education grapple to meet the demand for more online courses, as well as to resolve the challenges that online learning poses at the institutional level. The field of education is still wondering where online learning fits with more traditional pedagogical designs. One aspect of online learning that has come into the recent limelight is the topic of social presence. Currently, the term social presence is thrown around as a panacea for a variety of online learning design problems. Unfortunately, the topic of social presence is fraught with ambiguity and controversy. Educational researchers define and measure social presence in a multitude of ways, which makes its application all the more problematic. This debate is happening at the same time as instructors and instructional designers work to implement strategies to increase social presence in online courses, seeking to use it as way to address the challenges that online learning brings to current learning environments. This study examines the topic of social presence by harkening back to its original conception: a consilience of psychological closeness and technology modality. The study begins with a literature review, including aspects of immediacy and use of technology in online learning, and ends with a call to the field of education in creating online course design in the years ahead.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2016. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Aaron Doering. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 213 pages.
Renewing the Investigation into Social Presence: The Impact of Psychological Closeness and Technology Modality on Satisfaction, Future Persistence and Final Grade.
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