How to Enhance Instructional Presence
Thursday, October 19, 2017
How to Enhance Instructional Presence
Brent A. Anders. M.S.Ed., Kansas State University
“I feel like just a number in the class,” “the instructor is so distant and I don’t know them or anyone else in the class, I feel very isolated.” Those are just a few of the many examples that I have heard students express when talking about their online course experiences. It doesn’t have to be this way in that through the proper and strategic use of video, instructional presence can be improved to greater enhance interaction and the building of a real community of learning.
So, what is instructional presence and how can it be improved? Last year (2016), I presented on the important topic of instructional presence at the AAACE conference in New Mexico. That was actually the second time I had presented the topic in that I had given a practice presentation at the university I work at, Kansas State University. At both presentations, I had many professors and instructional staff approach me and tell me that I had really hit upon an important aspect of online instruction as well as how to really address it in an effective and realistic manner. This led me to release my first book How to Enhance Instructional Presence in a series dealing with video for education.
In my book, I describe instructional presence as presenting oneself in a way so that students don’t feel like just a number and feel like they are part of a real community (made up of an actual human teacher and other actual students) working towards real earning and improvement. I specifically describe a present instructor as “a real human person that students want to listen to, can approach, and interact with” (Anders, 2017). That is a simplified explanation which then goes on to describe instructional presence as being derived from Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s Community of Inquiry Model (1999).
The Community of Inquiry Model further describes instructional presence as being made up of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. Social presence deals with instructors humanizing themselves to the students as well as ensuring that students recognize that the instructor and other students are real people within the shared learning community (Kim, 2011; Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Cognitive presence is an important aspect of presence that it is described as both a process and an outcome to make meaning of the instruction through communication within and throughout the participating learning community (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001; Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999). Teaching presence (not teacher presence since at some points students could play the teacher role) is described as active and direct facilitation and involvement within the course (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). As a more recent example of this component’s importance, a study by Bowers and Kumar (2015) identified that the strongest links for students’ feelings of presence and connectedness were from teachers providing clear expectations for the assignments, helping learners be focused, and providing relevant/timely feedback.
The book goes into much more detail and presents more research and examples of each component of presence; but what most professors and instructional staff want to know is how to actually implement and accomplish real instructional presence. The book explains each component of a typical online course and provides detailed explanations on how to properly and strategically use video to improve instructional presence in order to improve the educational experience.
As an example, take the very common Announcement feature of most learning management systems. This tool provides a great opportunity for instructors to interact with their class and increase presence. By properly and strategically using a video for your announcements increased presence is realized, but the key is proper and strategic video. The announcement video itself needs to be short, friendly, and provide relevant information. Additionally, making a few specific comments will prove to students that the video is timely and current, which shows that you recently made the video (timely), are really part of this class (active), and are not some sort of robot (humanized/approachable). Other important issues such as closed captioning (beyond accessibility issues), thinking about the location of your video, what you are wearing, how you’re shooting the video, and even things such as smiling are presented and fully explained within the easy to read and quickly implement book.
I designed the book to be accessible to professors and instructional staff with an eye out for saving them time and money while at the same time truly enhancing their online course offerings. How to Enhance Instructional PRESENCE is the first book in a series I'm working on entitled Video for Education. How to Enhance Instructional PRESENCE is now available as both an e-book and as a paperback at Amazon.com:
Anders, B. (2017). How to enhance instructional presence: Research & experience based techniques to improve both online & face-to-face instruction. Manhattan, KS: Sovorel Publishing.
Anderson, T., Rourke, R., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(2), 1-17.
Bowers, J., & Kumar, P. (2015). Students’ perceptions of teaching and social presence: A comparative analysis of face-to-face and online learning environments. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies (IJWLTT), 10(1), 27-44.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2), 87-105.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 1–19.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7-23.
Kim, J. (2011). Developing an instrument to measure social presence in distance higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 763-777.