Tips from the Pros: 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching

Social presence is an important concept in distance education. It means being there, either physically or virtually. Gunawardena and Zittle (1997) found that social presence is a predictor of student satisfaction in a computer-mediated conferencing environment. Using Short, Williams, and Christie's (1976) definition of social presence, Gunawardena and Zittle explained that social presence refers to the degree to which a person is perceived as a "real person" in mediated communication. The degree of social presence of a communication medium is affected by the capacity of the medium to transmit information about facial expression, posture, and other nonverbal cues. Two concepts, intimacy and immediacy, are associated with social presence.

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