Measuring the return on investment regarding presence in the online classroom
Michelle Louch Duquesne University
Abstract Those who taught in the early days of online education tell tales that can make it sound very much like the Old (Electronic) West – at least in the sense that there were few studies, few experts, and few guidelines. As “best practices” and benchmarks evolved, and as the electronic classroom came into its own, one guiding principle emerged: create a presence. A presence, in this case, consists of three distinct elements: social, cognitive, and teaching. Creating presence is something that instructors do in the physical classroom; logically, it should be done in the electronic one as well. The question, though, is not a simple how? so much as it is how much? Logically following is the question of effectiveness. How effective is that presence and at what point are there diminishing returns?
The online realm is not simply another classroom. Under Bhabha’s cultural hybridity theory to academics, we see that it is a third space, one created by the intersection of two other distinct spaces. In this case, the spaces of the students’ existing worlds and the online curriculum. It is a situation faced by all instructors, regardless of era or platform. The argument here is not that a third space exists, rather that it cannot and should not be confused with the third space found in an on-ground, face-to-face classroom. A synchronous third space is not identical to an asynchronous third space, if for no other reason than immediacy. Achieved via both verbal and non-verbal communication, immediacy helps build a sense of belonging and helps reduce the academic power-distance relationship, creating a learning environment that is not simply the teacher passing knowledge to the student but one that is, if not more equal, at least more inviting, allowing the students to speak up, to share experiences, to question, and to advocate for their academic needs.
Understanding what happens when these two cultures meet in the online classroom is critical in that it ultimately influences a student’s ability to engage with their instructors and peers and to maintain the motivation needed to be successful in the online classroom. The purpose of this qualitative study is to develop a stronger understanding of student perception of teacher presence in online education as well as its effectiveness, thus allowing for the creation of recommendations that help facilitate the creation of a presence.
Recommended Citation: Louch, M., (2018). Measuring the return on investment regarding presence in the online classroom. Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference, (2018) n.4786, Norfolk, Virginia