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Understanding Social Presence in Text-Based Online Learning Environments

Distance Education Volume 29, Number 1, ISSN 0158-7919


This article reports on key aspects of a theory generative study into social presence in text-based online learning environments. The focus of the article is the nature of social presence as experienced by online learners in those environments. Employing a collective case study design, the study accessed online learners' experience-based heuristic knowledge through a multi-phase dialogical process which functioned as an extended interview. Among the key findings was (a) a definition of social presence drawn from learners' experiences; (b) explication of the nature of social presence in online learning environments; (c) suggestions for the creation and sustenance of social presence in those environments; and (d) support for a relational view of social presence which emphasizes human agency in mediated social processes and foreshadows a role for social presence as a critical element of online learning environments. (Contains 1 note.)


Kehrwald, B. (2008). Understanding Social Presence in Text-Based Online Learning Environments. Distance Education, 29(1), 89-106. Retrieved April 9, 2020 from .

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