Examining the Effectiveness of a Synchronous Online Environment in Establishing Social, Cognitive and Teaching Presence

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Based on doctoral research, this session examines the effectiveness of synchronous online learning environments in establishing social, cognitive and teaching presence in virtual instruction. In this presentation the research framework will be discussed followed by a description of the virtual instruction sessions and the results of the research study.

Presenters

Dr. Nancy Weissman has been a faculty librarian at Cuyahoga Community College, in Cleveland Ohio for 24 years obtaining the rank of Professor in 2014. The only professional position as a librarian since obtaining her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Kent State University, Nancy has been integral in all facets of the Library at Cuyahoga Community College including building both physical and online collections, working one on one with students, curriculum development in Information Literacy, library instruction classes and has taught credit courses on Information Literacy and First Year Experience. In addition to her roles on campus, one of Dr. Weissman's greatest contribution to the college lies in her innovative use of technology to teach research skills to distance learners. Using a virtual meeting space she has taught research skills and library instruction to a variety of courses for close to ten years. In this capacity Nancy has connected the online resources of the library to hundreds if not thousands of students. Dr. Weissman has presented at local, state and national conferences on various topics associated with academic libraries and information literacy as well as teaching in the virtual online environment. She has also co-authored a book chapter on social, cognitive and teaching presence in the virtual online environment.

Extended Abstract

The struggle is real. It’s real in the classroom and more so in the online environment. The struggle being how to engage students in the online environment in an effort to establish presence and a sense of community as well as promote learner interaction, success and overall course satisfaction. This session is a story of one librarian’s adventure into the world of virtual library instruction – she was determined to reach the distance learning students in her college … and did so. Based on doctoral research, this session will look at the effectiveness of synchronous online learning environments in establishing social, cognitive and teaching presence. The mixed methods research was grounded in the Community of Inquiry framework, perhaps the most widely accepted model of online learning, suggesting that learning online is supported by three presences – cognitive, social and teaching presence. In this presentation the model and each presence will be discussed followed by a description of the virtual library instruction and the results of the research study.

Using a convergent parallel design, data were collected from students attending live online library instruction sessions and those viewing recordings of the live sessions through online survey items, chat transcripts and open ended survey responses. Quantitative measures were used to analyze survey data and qualitative data were analyzed with open, axial and selective coding. The quantitative results showed that students who participated in the live online synchronous sessions indicated greater perception of social and cognitive presences than those who viewed a recording of the session. There was no significant difference in perception of teaching presence between the two groups. Qualitative findings uncovered the themes of connection, confidence and transference among the participants’ experiences in both groups.

The results of this study have important implications for distance learning educators to understand the potential online synchronous technologies have in establishing social, cognitive and teaching presences that promote a community of inquiry in the online environment. The presenter will discuss how distance learning educators can use teaching presence to promote cognitive, social and make their distance learning instruction more effective.

The goals of this session are to generate an awareness and understanding of the elements of the Community of Inquiry; to be aware of and understand the role that synchronous technologies can have in creating social, cognitive and teaching presence; and to consider the use of synchronous technologies and pedagogical techniques to create an engaging online environment.