Online Social Presence

Social presence is a component of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework for teaching effective, engaging courses. Other components include teaching presence and cognitive presence. According to Garrison (2000), social presence has three categories: (1) emotional (affective) expression, where learners share personal expressions and values; (2) open communication, where learners develop aspects of mutual awareness and recognition; and (3) group cohesion, where learners build and sustain a sense of group commitment. In short, social presence is allowing students to show up as themselves and building a sense of community and belonging within the online environment. 

20 Ways to Create Social Presence Online

  1. Post a welcome message to the course, setting expectations for communication.
  2. Create course rules for what is and is not acceptable.
  3. Publish a guide to “netiquette” as part of the course materials.
  4. Have students post profiles or introductory videos of themselves and their interests.
  5. Include visiting during office hours as a graded assignment with a sign-up sheet for coming in 10- or 15-minute intervals either alone or, for larger classes, coming in groups of 3-5.
  6. Allow students to do assignments that align with their personal interests.
  7. Design courses for learner choice, flexibility, and control.
  8. Encourage all students to participate and respond to each other in discussion boards.
  9. Encourage or require participation in class discussions.
  10. Have students incorporate content from the discussions or discussion forums into their assignment.
  11. Model posting and responding on discussion forums and in class activities.
  12. Have team-based, collaborative or problem-solving activities.
  13. Encourage both peer-to-peer and peer-to-instructor connections.
  14. Develop initial course activities that are icebreakers to encourage interaction. Ideas for ice breakers: The Discussion Book by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill.
  15. Use short videos to introduce the course, different topics and tech how-to.
  16. Use real time communication channels such as text, chat, or shared whiteboard space.
  17. Use audio and video for feedback on student assignments.
  18. Share stories and experiences with students.
  19. Have students lead discussions and be subject matter experts on topics.
  20. Develop peer-review assignments with clear rubrics for grading.


This information was compiled by Online Learning's Kristin Palmer and can be accessed in the below document.

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