Fostering Social Presence from the Acceptance Letter: Utilizing an Online Orientation to Help Create Social Presence in Online Degree Programs

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Social presence is essential to online programs, but many programs do not start cultivating social presence until the first class begins.  What if students could begin connecting from admission?  Participants will experiment with and provide feedback on technologies and methods for fostering social presence through an online orientation course.


Rebekah Grosboll has worked in higher education for the past 14 years, and has experience in online education, program evaluation, and designing professional development trainings and seminars. She is currently an online program coordinator for three online degree programs at the University of Illinois Springfield. Her research interests include programmatic approaches to online learning, creating constructivist learning environments, and program evaluation.

Extended Abstract

The necessity of social presence in an online classroom has been well documented, but many efforts focus on creating social presence primarily within a for-credit course.  While social presence does indeed need to be cultivated in the online classroom, there is often a hefty amount of time between the date a student is admitted into an online program and the day his or her first online course begins.  This session will look at how programs can begin to cultivate social presence from the very beginning of admission through an online orientation course.  Ideas on how to begin cultivating social presence in an online orientation course will be presented and new ideas will be generated.  This session will review effective methods for creating social presence in a course and give participants the opportunity to experiment, hand-on, with how these methods and technologies can be incorporated in an online orientation course.  Participants will be asked to evaluate the methods and technologies shown and to provide feedback on what other technologies and methods could be explored.