Social presence in collaborative learning: Analysis of interactions in knowledge building community
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Social presence is a key element in a collaborative learning environment to promote interaction and a sense of community among online students. The purpose of establishing social presence in online courses is to facilitate levels of comfort and assurance of safety among participants. Based on two distinct online graduate courses, this paper explores the interactions and evidence of social presence among students. The results discussed in this paper focus on the analysis of student and instructor messages. In-depth analysis of messages was based on the social presence model by Garrison and Anderson. Findings suggest, overall, low levels of social presence among the two groups. The paper discusses several factors affecting the creation of social presence within two courses. These include (i) profile of the students such as maturity, time availability and their own agenda, (ii) type of course, and (iii) workload. Strategies to improve social presence in online courses are discussed.
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