For the following be sure to provide citations (URL’s etc.) for sources of information you consulted to answer each items as appropriate.
In your own words, define Instructional Presence.
Instructional Presence is facilitation of cognitive and social processes within an online course. The online facilitator is the responsible party for instructional presence, as through it, he or she organizes the course and moderates learning communities so that the courses outcomes can be met. Through this instructional presence, online students are aware that there is an instructor on the other end of their course material; there is an instructor who mapped out and designed the course; there is an instructor who reads student work and who will give feedback. Students are aware that a content expert is there, leading them to seek the knowledge that is set in the learning objectives. The instructor delivers his or her own personal touch to course material, within comments and feedback, and through activities. Because of an instructional presence, students will strive, in the course of study, to complete tasks, engage in academic discourse, and explore topics further in order to build new or solidify existing knowledge.
Name three things that your instructor identifies as contributing to Instructional Presence. Explain why these are, or are not consistent with your definition of Instructional Presence.
In the document titled, Instructional Presence, Effective Communication and Motivation, Dr. Newberry identified three contributing factors to effective instructional presence. According to Dr. Newberry, the result of a well-cultivated instructional presence include increased student confidence, increased student motivation, better student performance and provides the instructor a greater sense of satisfaction.
- Authentic Communication-This is real communication. Dr. Newberry wrote that, in our course, he likes to interact with each student at least one time during the week, even if that one time is via the grade report through email. Communication with students should not be forced. Rather, communication should be real, whether within the discussion boards or through email. Students should begin to see the instructor’s personality as the course develops. As an online student, I can confirm that this is definitely a contributing factor to my feeling of success during a course. Just that simple, “10/10 you did a fine job” from an instructor on the designated grading day relieves some of the stress I go through. I really appreciate it, in a weird way, when my professor probes me to rethink or dig deeper after I have submitted my work. That lets me know that my instructor has read my work and took the time to help me improve what I have already done. That is something I am working on doing with my students who have been working on Google Classroom. It’s different for them than what I am experiencing as a student because I am still in my students’ physical presence when they are working online. I do return their assignments with suggested comments to improve their work, but I haven’t taken it a step beyond. I am still trying to figure out what that next step would be.
- Multiple Forms of Communication- Newberry discusses a variety of media an instructor could use in order to engage in communication and course delivery. The purpose of integrating multiple forms is to accommodate student preference. For instance, a discussion board may be useful for a certain course, while a blog may work better for another. As a student, I would rather have one form of student-to-student communication. The reason is that I am not a highly organized person and sometimes I can’t remember who I engaged with on a discussion board and who I engaged with on a blog, who commented to me on either platform, or whether there was someone I missed during the week. I find myself seeing comments addressed to me, and if I am not prepared to respond when I see it, I forget where to respond to when I am ready. Within my classroom, I have introduced both. Google Classroom has a comment feature which serves as a discussion board while kidblog.org provides a free blogging service that keeps their blogs within one safe space. I have not utilized the discussion board platform as much, but have found that my students enjoy kidblog.org because they are reading the work of their peers and commenting on them.
- Smaller Chunks of Communication- Like with food, it is easier to digest smaller bites. More research needs to be done in this area; however, Dr. Newberry noted that we are moving toward a “less reading is better” trend. Therefore, try to keep emails shorter or even integrate video messages rather than text messages to relay information to students. The section that resonated with me was using video messages. In this course, Dr. Newberry has integrated the use of mp3 voice messages of his Word documents. I have enjoyed those because I could cook dinner as I am listening to my lesson! I have been interested in doing something similar to my class because I know they would be engaged in a similar way. For a sixth grader, seeing your teacher on a video or hearing their voice in a podcast is “cool.” On my goorulearning.org collections, my image appears when the directions pop up, and they all make a big deal about it. Last year, students who participated in my small math group, were very attentive to videos I created using the ExplainEverything application on the iPad. Those reactions make me interested in integrating voice messages for my own students.
Who are the researchers most often identified with the construct of “Teaching Presence”?
Various articles cite the work collaborative work of Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, and Archer, Assessing teacher presence in a computer conferencing context (2001). Garrison and Anderson’s textbook, E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice is also among the common cited written works in the field. Garrison also collaborated with Akyol on various research studies such as The development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course: Understanding the progression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence (2008), as cited by Dianne Conrad, and The impact of course duration on the development of a community of inquiry (2011). Overall, the names I have encountered most when researching “teaching presence” has been Garrison, Anderson, Archer, and Rourke as they were the group who coined the terms of cognitive, social, and instructional/teaching presence within a Community of Inquiry.
What are the three types of presence that Teaching Presence requires? Name and describe each.
Randy Garrison identified three elements of teaching presence in the textbook, E-Learning 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice.
Design and Organization- An online instructor must have the course organized from the beginning. This provides structure for the learning experience, similar to what is expected in a face-to-face course. Garrison wrote, “the design work at the front end of a course of studies will pay considerable dividends during the course of study” (Garrison, 2011, p.57). Garrison furthered this topic by explaining that online learners need an influence or example of what online collaboration looks like if that is what an instructor intends to occur. This being my fourth quarter as an online student, I have witnessed both ends of the spectrum when it comes to teaching presence and course design. I would say that there is a lack of teaching presence when learning material documents a professor adds to our reading lists do not have current quarter dates, leading me to presume that the same material is used over and over again and not necessarily tailored to our course or our times. Something as simple as addressing our class with the correct course title and section number allows me to know, as a student, that the instructor is organized and is there for us as a class.
Facilitating Discourse- Teaching presence requires attention to various areas including reflection and discourse for the purpose of building understanding of concepts. In e-Learning, there is a focus on text-based communication and learning, therefore, there is a huge demand for quality communication between peers and monitoring by the instructor. Garrison wrote, “teaching presence must be as concerned with cognitive development as with a positive learning environment, and it must see content, cognition, and context as integral parts of the whole” (Garrison, 2011, p. 59). In my e-Learning experience, some of my instructors have been exemplary models of monitoring and facilitating discourse. For example, one professor will join in discussion boards and probe students to seek deeper understanding or give feedback within discussions to affirm that the thoughts are on the right track.
Direct Instruction- Some of the examples of direct instruction indicators that Garrison describes in his Framework for e-Learning include:
- Presenting content/questions
- Focus the discussion on specific issues
- Summarizing the discussion
- Confirming understanding through assessment and explanatory feedback
- Diagnosing misconceptions
- Inject knowledge from diverse sources
- Responding to technical concerns
I have witnessed both ends of the spectrum of teaching presence through direct instruction. For instance, I have a professor who uses one textbook, gave “right there” comprehension questions, and will hold a final at the end of the quarter based on the knowledge gained from the text. There are no extra supplemental material, or outside readings. For me, that course is dry. On the other hand, courses like this one has a set of reading material, webpages, audio messages, and built in collaboration which serve as evidence that an instructor is present.
Choose one of the three types of presence named in item #4 and identify ways and instructor can create or improve this type of presence in an online class.
Facilitating Discourse- After reading what Garrison noted as indicators of teaching presence, other student suggestions, and the article, Effective Online Communication by Michelle Schwartz(website provided below), I have narrowed down some ways to improve teaching presence in an online course.
|Initial Teaching Presence
||On-going Teaching Presence
- Present content Questions
- Create a Focus topic or Issue
- Inject knowledge through a variety of resources (journals, webpages, videos, podcasts)
- Foster a warm environment
- Model how to post by being the first to post
- Summarize the discussion
- Encourage students to respond to one another
- Confirm understanding through feedback
- Diagnose misconceptions
- Respond to technical concerns
- Acknowledge responses
- Respond to posts that resonate to you
- Model how to give quality feedback
- Ask probing questions
Explain how the readings this week (and your own research) connects with the Blackboard discussion.
This week’s goal was “To examine issues related to Instructional Presence, communication and motivation.” I was unclear on whether I was to respond to both questions or just the one, so my focus was on Instructional Presence. We were given a webpage and two PDF articles to digest that discussed facilitating discourse, injecting knowledge using multi-media, and keeping students engaged. These readings along with some of my own research helped me solidify my understanding of what an instructor’s role is throughout an online course.
Quote your best entry from this week’s Blackboard discussion. Explain why you chose it and what it demonstrates about your understanding, learning process etc.
I chose to share my response to my contributions to Christen’s initial post in the Instructional Presence thread on the discussion board. When reading about teaching presence, I learned that the instructor should have organized the course before the course begins, however, it is also effective to gain feedback from students to determine whether the organization was blended and balanced well to promote learning. I teach my students all year long (181 days) so there is always room for flexibility and change to meet my students’ needs. In a ten-week course, I could see Jeff’s point, it could become tedious and time consuming to make customize a course to meet the needs of each individual student.
I agree with Christen that you have a great balance of contributing to the discussion without dominating. As I read the articles about teaching presence, I could see the efforts you make to accomplish this. (Not sucking up.🙂 ) After taking approximatly 20 online courses, I feel most connected to the instructor, other students, and the content in your classes. Also, interestingly enough, I have made connections with other students that have transcended the class. I keep in touch with a few students that I “met” in the first class I took at CSUSB (541, I think). Some I have never met face to face. So, I look back on my experiences with online courses and images come to mind of things instructors do and don’t do that I can view as what not to do. As, I have models of what- to do.
One comment that resonated with me was ” Try to design activities where they can spend more time learning and less time trying to figure out what to do to learn.” (Newberry) A certain class I am currently taking requires massive amounts of time to read pages of directions for an assignment. When I am finished reading it, I am confused. I am sure the instructor thinks his Module 3 Step 1 Part 2, etc. instructions are simple to follow. However, to me, it is like solving a puzzle. Students in my assigned group seem to feel the same way.
Going forward there are several things that I will try to implement in my online classes:
- Clear, concise directions
- Student-Instructor interaction at the content level, discussions, rapid and authentic feedback to students
- Construct and support a form for student-student interaction
- Monitor the difficulty and volume of work (It can be rigorous, engaging, and challanging without overwhelming the student so that they give up.)
- Rapid response to questions and concerns
How’s Module 3, Step 2a and Step 3x going? Talk about an overwhelming course that wouldn’t be so overwhelming if it were just organized a bit nicer. This goes back to what Christen wrote, teacher presence is evident before the course begins. Garrison wrote that design should not be separated from delivery. It is important, as an online instructor, to gain feedback from students at some point during the course, in order to evaluate the design and structure and provide modifications if necessary. I appreciate the list of how you will try to implement your online classes. Those are all effective and practical strategies that I will aim to meet as well.
Would you use mid-course online surveys?
In the past I was able to acquire an email address list of trainees and proceeded to do a pre-course intro to survey for info on their backgrounds, experience, expectations,… All in all I was able to tweak the course a little bit. They appreciated the teaching presence; but that type of customization is time consuming for the facilitator/trainer.
Of course potential issues can occur when there are last minute signups or no-shows. It is difficult to measure ROI on customization efforts.
I actually haven’t used a formal survey to gain feedback from students, but on kidblog, I began a simple thread where the focus question is “what do you like about sixth grade and what is something that could change to make the year more enjoyable?” I am taking into account the age of my students and their need for teacher approval, but most of my students who have responded said they would like more time to finish tasks. I look at these responses as valuable feedback. Like you said, it could be tedious, but a little change in my instruction or organization may help my students achieve and learn more in the long run. I’m interested to learn if any elementary school teachers actually use a mid-year survey to gain student feedback.
Identify the student you think was the most important participant in the Blackboard discussion. Explain why and provide at least one quote from that student’s contributions to the Blackboard discussion.
Laura Mitobe always grasps my attention during our course discussions. I don’t know if it’s because we have shared so many courses together or because of her vast experience in education and e-learning. The quote above (in number 7) really resonated with me because she supplied her own checklist of how to engage in effective teaching presence within her own designed courses. I find her work extremely valuable.
Reflect on what you have learned this week. What have you learned that has the potential to inform or influence you or your practice of online learning going forward? Explain why.Through the readings, I have gained the understanding that a variety of methods to infuse knowledge to my students must be used in order to keep students engaged. When I was writing my response for the second question in this blog, I reflected on what my students find interesting. This isn’t to toot my own horn, but I have found that when my photo or my voice is attached to instructions, students seem to engage a bit more than when they are given a blank screen. In my sixth grade classroom, when students work online, they are still in my physical presence, so I am able to see and hear their reactions. I think that when students see or hear me attached to the instructions they are given on the screen, it adds a level of authenticity and importance to what they are going to engage in. Using audio recordings and video recordings is something I have to be open to because I am quite camera shy!
Akyol, Z., Vaughan, N., & Garrison, D. R. (2011). The impact of course duration on the development of a community of inquiry. Interactive Learning Environments, 19(3), 231–246. doi:10.1080/10494820902809147
Cognitive, Instructional, and Social Presence as Factors in Learners’ Negotiation of Planned Absences from Online Study | Conrad | The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2014, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/630/1261
Díaz, L. A., & Entonado, F. B. (2009). Are the Functions of Teachers in e-Learning and Face-to-Face Learning Environments Really Different? Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 331–343.
Dixon, M. (2010). Creating effective student engagement in online courses: What do students find engaging? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2), 1–13.
Effective Online Communication – Online_Communication.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/lt/resources/handouts/Online_Communication.pdf
Face-to-Face or Online Instruction? Face-to-Face is Better. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2014, from http://www.natcom.org/commcurrentsarticle.aspx?id=884
Garrison, D. R. (2011). E-learning in the 21st century a framework for research and practice. New York: Routledge.
Skramstad, E., College, S. N., & Orellana, A. (2012). Teaching Presence and Communication Timeliness in Asynchronous Online Courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(3), 183–188.
Sull, E. (2008, November 28). Overcoming the #1 Complaint of Online Students: Poor Instructor Feedback Faculty Focus | Faculty Focus. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/distance-learning/overcoming-the-1-complaint-of-online-students-poor-instructor-feedback/