25 Developing an Online Teaching Presence (also relevant to on campus course)

Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

As a teacher, your role is to create and sustain presence when you teach online, just like you do in the on-campus course. It just looks and feels different. Online students need your presence and expertise from day one until the end of the semester.

There are three components of teaching presence in the Community of Inquiry

Component 1:  Design and Organization

Component 2:  Facilitating Discourse

Component 3: Direct Instruction

Community of Inquiry venn diagram

Component 1: Design and Organization

The design and organization begin in the planning stages, where the teacher begins thinking through the course structure on the learning management system, the process, interactions, and the evaluation of the course.  The first day of an online class sets the stage for learning and creates first impressions of the faculty teaching the course. If the content is not easily accessible, organized, and complete, teaching presence may be diminished.

  • Setting Curriculum– Define the course outcomes and objectives. Use the outcomes and objectives to keep you on task when designing the course.  Start with the NEED to know the content, then supplement with the NICE to know, and if there is time/space, add the FUN to know.
  • Design Methods-Select a design method (Backward Design, ADDIE, etc.) and decide on your course topics. When designing, select appropriate course content (reading materials, lectures, video lectures, videos, websites, open educational resources, etc.). Develop assignments/assessments and activities that align with the course goals/competencies, etc. Steer clear of “Busy work”!
  • Time parameters-Establish time parameters (weekly schedule, due dates, etc.)
  • Utilizing LMS -Deliver your content in a clear, concise, and organized manner on the LMS.
    • Be a proficient user of your LMS so you can help students be successful users as well.
    • Use the LMS tool to support your teacher presence.
      • Send out a weekly announcement and consider creating a short weekly Webcam video to develop connections with your students.
      • Use built-in feedback tools in Canvas to share feedback. Canvas quizzes have options for adding question feedback (individual answers or questions). This allows all the students to receive feedback with minimal effort from you! Assignments and discussion boards in Canvas have the availability for interactive grading with rubrics. Add your rubric, and select the criteria the students met, and you have instant feedback with minimal effort.
      • Create discussion board questions and opportunities for students to engage with each other and with you!
  • Establishing Netiquette- The COPH syllabus template addresses netiquette in the online course space. Consider sharing it with students on the discussion board, on an announcement, or in a weekly video.

    Component 2: Facilitating Discourse

    Communication in the online course is different from face-to-face courses and appears to be related to student learning outcomes and satisfaction. It is necessary for the teacher to maintain engagement in and focus on the online discussion board by helping students understand the course content by identifying areas of agreement or disagreement, encouraging student contributions, and assessing the effectiveness of the discussion board discourse. The discussion board takes the place of the in-class discussion. Online discussions need to be guided just like you do during in-class discussions.

    • Identify areas of agreement/disagreement- Help students by calling attention to areas of agreement/disagreement in the discussion board.
      • Examples: “Tim would you care to respond to Joe’s post that has a compelling argument to your example?” or “Anna, it looks like your thoughts on the subject align with most of the class”
    • Seek to reach understanding/consensus-Help students seek consensus/understanding in the discussion board.
      • Examples: “It looks like Anna, Tim, and Debra all saying the same thing” or, “I noticed that we all are in agreement and understand the purpose of the hypothesis.” 
    • Encourage, acknowledge or reinforce – Encourage your students to share by acknowledging, encouraging, or reinforcing student’s contributions on the discussion board.
      • Examples: “Thank you for sharing your experience with us” or  “Does anyone have an example of XYZ in the workplace?”
    • Set climate- Set the climate for learning and peer engagement on the discussion board.
      • Examples: “This is a place to get feedback from your peers” or “We are all learning together, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
    • Prompt discussion – Draw in participants by prompting the discussion.
      • Examples: “Any thoughts on this matter?” or  “John, would you care to comment?”
    • Assess the efficacy – Assess the efficacy of the discussion and be able to direct the discussion if it is veering off-topic or needs more depth.
    • Example: “Let’s backtrack a bit since we are getting a bit off-topic” or ” We are just skimming the surface on this topic, is there more information you can share with us?”

      Component 3: Direct Instruction

      Direct instruction consists of sharing intellectual information, knowledge, skills, and resources, interjecting comments into discussions, organizing activities, and allowing the students to construct knowledge using personal context. The instructor uses meaningful feedback throughout the learning experience as well as their expertise, knowledge, and skills.

        • Present content/questions – Present the learning materials and answer questions that help students be successful in your course and discussion board.
        • Assessment and feedback– Create assessments that assess the learning goals/competencies and give the students feedback. The student gages how they are doing based on grading (timely) and feedback from you in the online course.
        • Diagnose misconceptions- Be prepared to diagnose misconceptions in the discussion board, through email, by creating just-in-time videos using assessment data.
        • Inject knowledge- Include pointers to information that is beneficial to the student in the class content and on the discussion board. Remember, you are the expert, and students WANT to hear from you!


Teaching Online: Course Design, Delivery, and Teaching Presence Copyright © by Analisa McMillan. All Rights Reserved.

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