Social Presence for Online Learning In Nursing Education

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 Online Learning And Social Presence In Nursing Education

Social Presence for Online Learning In Nursing Education

 Assessing Social Presence Online Learning,Rising Trends of Distant Learning In Nursing Education,Need of Social Presence and Nursing Education,Training of Nursing Faculty and Students for Distant Learning.

Assessing Social Presence Online Learning

    There are many definitions of social presence. First defined by Short, Williams, and Christie (1976, p. 65), social presence is the salience or importance of others in a mediated communication setting and the resulting salience of their interpersonal interactions. Similarly, Gunawardena (1995) described social presence as the degree to which an individual is perceived by others to be a “real person” in computer mediated communication. 

    Tu and Melsaac (2002) refer to social presence as a measure of the feeling of community that individual learners experience in an online classroom. Picciano (2002) defines social presence as the perception a student has of being in and belonging in an online class.

Rising Trends of Distant Learning In Nursing Education

    Over the past decade, distance education has become commonplace within schools of nursing. Both undergraduate and graduate nursing courses, and in many cases entire nursing programs, are now being offered. online at many universities. Research has demonstrated that social presence is essential to online learning and has a direct correlation to the degree of satisfaction among students and teachers, as well as the over all effectiveness of the learning experience (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997, Richardson & Swan, 2003 ; Tu, 2000). 

    With the loss of the traditional on campus classroom, one of the greatest challenges for nursing faculty is to create and maintain a sense of social presence without face-to-face interactions. With the absence of eye contact and nonverbal cues such as body language, teachers must find other ways to assess the degree of social presence in the online classroom.

    Three categories of indicators to assess social presence in the online classes are emotional expression, open communication, and group cohesion (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000), Several strategies have been used to enhance these aspects of social presence in online nursing courses , One approach is teacher immediacy, which involves nonverbal behaviors aimed at conveying a feeling of connectedness, closeness, and informality between the student and teacher ways to improve teacher immediacy include calling students by their first name, building group cohesiveness by addressing the class as “we ” or “us,” teacher self disclosure, using emoticons (eg, representative symbols to express emotion, and by using humor (Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). 

    A sec and approach to increasing social presence is through consistent teacher-student inter actions or “teaching presence.” This may be accomplished through timely responses to e-mails, complimenting students on their work, asking questions, expressing appreciation of student's participation during online classes, and encouraging feedback. Other ideas intended to establish social presence in the online classroom include sending weekly checklists, providing virtual office hours (Baker & Edwards, 2011), and incorporating twitter into the online classroom design (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009)

Need of Social Presence and Nursing Education

    Studies have found that social presence is a significant factor in improving the instructional effectiveness of online classes (Gunawardena, 1995). In an early study by Gunawardena and Zittle (1997), social presence was found to be a strong predictor of student satisfaction in computer based conferences. Participants in this study who felt a stronger sense of social presence enhanced their experience by using emoticons to express emotion in the absence of face-to-face gesturing. 

    Richardson and Swan (2003) found that students with a high overall perception of social presence also scored higher in terms of perceived learning and perceived satisfaction with the teacher. The level of online interaction is increased with an improved level of social presence (Tu & McIsaac, 2002). These researchers suggest that social context, online communication, and interactivity are essential elements in establishing a sense of community among online students. 

    Three elements of an educational experience identified in the community of inquiry model (Garrison et al. 2000) are interrelated concepts essential to assessing “presence” in online nursing classes. This model offers a tool by which presence, including social presence, can be assessed. The elements include social presence, cognitive presence (critical thinking process), and teaching presence. Ali, Hodson Carlton, and Ryan (2004) determined that the major elements of online learning identified by 20 graduate nursing students were congruent with the constructivism theory. 

    An underlying assumption of this theory is that learning is constructed through social interaction among individuals and meaning comes from dialogue with others. This study corroborates the importance of creating social presence in online nursing courses. Application of social presence strategies by nursing faculty teaching online courses is essential and has a positive effect on the perceptions of social presence and group interaction among the students (Mayne & Wu, 2011).

Training of Nursing Faculty and Students for Distant Learning

    With the expansion of advanced technology, there are concerns by nursing faculty that students can experience a sense of disconnect and isolation in the world of web-based education. Because the demand for online nursing programs will most likely only increase in the future, nursing educators must find ways to foster a sense of social presence and community belonging.

    Much of the research on social presence has been conducted by researchers in disciplines other than nursing. Therefore, there is need for nursing researchers to study social presence and its effect on online nursing education. One area where research should focus is on developing best practice teaching strategies that incorporate social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence for online nursing education.

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