What is social presence?

Social presence is the extent to which participants, both staff and students, can project their personal characteristics and present themselves as real people.

There are three dimensions of Social Presence. These are based on students’ needs as they move through a course, with one being developed sooner than two and three:

  1. Developing their identity as a student of a discipline
  2. Communicating purposefully in a trusting environment
  3. Building interpersonal relationships (friendships)

Social presence has two functions:

  1. It supports Cognitive Presence - discussions work better if people can be real with one another and when there is trust.
  2. It enhances retention - students need to find the interactions in the group rewarding and personally fulfilling.