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Social Presence

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Social Presence is the purposeful building of a supportive learning community, providing a venue for communication within a trusted environment where students can express individual identities and establish social relationships (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Perceived trust, as the foundation for increased success online, is a key goal to attain when constructing a community of inquiry.






Social Presence requires a welcoming setting that establishes trust. This perceived trust then purposefully develops a learning environment that supports risk-free expression, freedom to question, collaboration, dialogue, critical thought, and increased feelings of success support.

Instructors who are established experts in creating presence also report having increased satisfaction while teaching online (Rebeor, et al., 2019).

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Applications, encouraging students to engage with the instructor, content, and each other, by the instructor is an important element of social presence. Interacting in a way that presents the instructor as a "real" person, who cares, and can support the students' knowledge development, increases a sense of belonging (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Hart, 2012, p.1), which is suggested to reduce feelings of isolation (Galusha, 1997; Hara & Khling, 1999), and increase retention and success (Rebeor, Rosser-Majors, McMahon, Anderson, Sliwinski, Harper, 2019). 

Strategy Examples

Audio or video feedback:

Audio or video announcements, guidance, and helpful hints:

Use of appropriate humor:


Encouraging Images and quotes:


Rubin, L. (2017). Rubes Cartoon: Department of Psychology. User Experience Magazine, 17(1).Retrieved from


​Concerned about using your own picture as well? Here are additional options. Numerous online sites can support you in doing this.

Self-awareness of tone in email communications and feedback:


Participation in professional social sites so students can see you as a real person with expertise:

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Emotional Expression:

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Meet with students virtually when needed or appropriate:

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Not sure how to develop some of these strategies?


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Also check out Dr. Peter Trzop: Education Channel. Dr. Trzop gives great instruction about using videos in the classroom.

Example of his lessons on YouTube:

Have questions about social presence and how to apply in your online classroom? Leave us a blog comment.

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