Authors: Judith Slapak-Barski, Alex Edmonds
Online learning environments are considered more convenient than face-to-face (or traditional) learning environments, since they provide learning opportunities that occur in diverse settings. However, online courses typically lack the visual cues and interaction of face-to-face classrooms, so online students may experience an isolation effect as a result of learning at a distance, or in the perceived absence of their peers and instructor. The concept of distance in online education does not refer just to a separation in time and space, but also to the pedagogical space between distant learners and instructors. Feelings of isolation experienced by distant students are grounded in Moore’s transactional distance theory, which posits that, as the amount of dialogue increases, transactional distance decreases. Accordingly, establishing teaching presence in distance education courses can minimize the isolation effect and reduce transactional distance in many ways. This award-winning study described and compared student and faculty perceptions of teaching presence in synchronous and asynchronous distance education courses at the college or university level. A mixedmethod methodology was employed using a scale measuring teaching presence for the quantitative strand and student and faculty focus groups for the qualitative strand
Keywords: presence, student perceptions, faculty perceptions, distance education, online learning.