The Three Types of Presence and My Attempt to Understand Them!

I hope I am understanding this content.  So, here’s my attempt using the EMPH Program Planning Capstone course I taught in the Fall.

In many ways, the completion of the Capstone represents cognitive presence – I think!  Students needed to apply what they had learned in previous classes to the creation of a plan. Weekly discussions challenged students to select a health problem of interest, review the intervention literature on that problem, and apply their learnings to the design an intervention program using a process called Intervention Mapping.  A case study was provided as a model, in addition to examples of key documents, such as a logic model.  Class structure used a combination of weekly discussions/ assignments in which students helped each other with the task (such as creating a logic model or devising a budget), peer review, and instructor feedback.

For teaching presence, I tried to set up the course so that the structure and weekly discussions helped balance instructor feedback with student to student learning. The course requires a 25-page Capstone program plan to be completed by the end of the course.  The weekly discussion questions were designed to build components of the plan and each module represented one of the Capstone’s four parts. If I am understanding this concept, I provided the exercise and structure and feedback at appropriate times to complete the final plan.

For social presence, this was a challenge for me with my online class as the EMPH students are a cohort going through the program together.  As a result, they already know and support each other, and are a very cohesive group.  Since we meet in person at the beginning (and end) of the semester, I created an introduction exercise in which they write down a unique tidbit about themselves on a card. (Examples include: I once shut down the French Embassy (shattered glass gift was mistakenly thought to be an explosive) or I met five first ladies (dad was in the secret service). I collect them and then read them out load and the students have to guess who belongs to what bidbit. I also put in my unique description. (I have won ribbons in the annual Xmas dog parade – see my intro!)  It really worked well, as many of them didn’t know the tidbits about each other, and they also got to know me.

If I’m understanding this element correctly, it’s not just the comfort of interacting and speaking up, but the personal side as well. The dog theme continues throughout the semester, as many of the student were dog or animal lovers and shared the fur kid pictures.


Cognitive, teaching and social presence with my students


To be transparent, blogging is a new activity for me! I am very intrigued by the Community of Inquiry framework, as it makes intuitive sense to me. I went to the site and pulled the definitions again as my launch point to consider how I currently utilize and can incorporate each type of presence into my online classroom.

Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009). I think this is most challenging in my fully online, asynchronous course. The challenge extends past creating my own social presence, but also facilitating that among the students. As many are local and in courses together, they may have established relationships, but not necessarily within the course. I did a bio and introduction, including some personal information. I am not the coordinator of this course, so am not the primary driver of our approach. Having said that, my colleague, for whom this is her first online course, is definitely open and willing to learn and collaborate. I try to add humor as well.

For future courses, I would enhance social presence via a more robust introduction at the beginning of the course, using VoiceThread. In addition, I will plan at least 3 synchronous online experiences in addition to the course orientation. To be honest, I think we missed some opportunities for social engagement. I have definite opportunity to improve setting the climate.

Teaching Presence  is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). For this, I try to make activities of the student focused at the application or higher level per Bloom’s taxonomy for the modules for which I am responsible. I have encouraged my colleague to do the same. I use various examples to simulate how this content (research, not usually their favorite) will be pertinent to their future practice. I also try to provide clear directions to regulate learning and rubrics for activities and assignments, which require both individual effort and group interaction. We created small groups to better facilitate useful learning. We provide blueprints to guide preparation for exams.

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). I think this may be most difficult in my research course. I am most successful at this in staying in close contact during discussions, prodding them to take their original postings to the next level with probing questions, which I may direct at the “original poster” , the respondents, or both. By designing discussions so that students have to post their own responses before seeing or responding to their peers demands their individual effort. This supports discourse, and helps to regulate learning.

I am taking notes to improve the remainder of the semester as well as next year!

Welcome to Scholarblogs!

In addition to using Canvas discussion forums and VoiceThread for communication, blogging is another great way to promote community in your course. A blog is a website where learners can make posts in different forms, such as articles, opinions, or journal entries. Similar to our discussion forums in Canvas, blog readers can also respond to main posts. A blog can be used for weekly communication, or for assignments and projects. You can also use course blogs to introduce students to the public scholarship genre of writing and what it means to publish in the public domain.

At Emory, we have our own supported website creation tool using WordPress called ScholarBlogs. ScholarBlogs is available for those who intend to use the technology for teaching and research. It offers a platform for public and private blogs and web pages capable of displaying text, images and video. To learn more about ScholarBlogs, watch the  short video in our Canvas course where I interview Anandi Knuppel, a Training Specialist in the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. She is also available for consultations and questions about the ScholarBlogs tool, at alsalin [at] emory [dot] edu.

In this module, we learned about the Community of Inquiry Framework model. By addressing three different levels of presence (cognitive, teaching, and social), we can create more meaningful learning experiences for our students. For your blog post, select one activity in your own course (current or in development) for each type of presence and briefly describe those three activities. Be sure to label which activity supports which type of presence and give an explanation for why this activity supports that type of presence. Finally, post responses to at least two of your colleagues.