Module 05 Homework


Q1. Define Instructional Presence

A1. Instructional Presence seems to be any an all elements of synchronous and asynchronous on-line learning environments that contribute to a Community of Inquiry (CoI), without which students—and perhaps instructors—experience a sense of disconnectedness.

CoI’s consists of three highly complex contributors: thought, emotion and behavior. The three facets can be presented as a Venn diagram consisting of unique and overlapping elements that can happen in both synchronous and asynchronous on-line learning environments.

Although this next analysis may be derivative of a narrow definition of Instructional Presence, it seems part and parcel of successful Instructional Presence. Although it may create too much complexity, the CoI from an instructor’s perspective can differ significantly from that of the student. In other words, Instructional Presence and CoI, a la student, can differ significantly from that of the instructor. In other words, the two groups may not define a “successful CoI” the same way.

Q2. Compare Answer 1 with instructor definition: identifies similarities and differences.

A2. Like the instructor’s definition, the three components of Instructional Presence are: thought, emotion and behavior. The answer to Q1 introduces another consideration: the student. With this addition, the 2 dimensional Venn diagram evolves into a 3 dimensional model.

Q3. Instructors frequently associated with Instructional Presence.

A3.  In addition to the Instructor who completed his dissertation in the field.

Marcia Dixon (2010), a researcher whose article was included in this week’s readings .  Dixon asks how to determine what encourages student engagement. As might be expected, there is no one reason that students become engaged; however, her findings suggest that “multiple communication channels” lead to greater peer and student instructor interactions. And that active learning is best achieved through greater engagement. Although the Dixon, uses a fairly sophisticated statistical procedure (i.e., factor analysis) and uses t-tests and correlations to test several of her research questions, it seems odd that she used low level Chi-square analyses to make other comparisons.

Peter Shea, a prolific researcher and writer in several areas of on-line instruction, both examines and develops a series of measures to assess on-line instructional effort (2010). Specifically, using content analysis of discussion board entries, among other measures the authors identified a number of findings, like student interaction is generally lower than teacher presence, assessment is another dimension to teacher presence, and that although there may be a bit of variability in instructor presence and/or engagement may occur, the greater the instructor engagement the greater the student engagement.

McKerlich, et al. (2011) approach a CoI (i.e., teaching, cognitive and social presence) as experienced by the student. Essentially, they measure engagement through student perceptions in a virtual world. Study findings support that a CoI can be created in a virtual world.

Although not familiar with the virtual world “world” of on-line education, this study raises some thoughts about how the approach can be applied to adult training and development programs. Specifically, the ability to simulate actual employee environments can allow for decision-making and judgments in a safe, environment.

Dixon, Marcia(2010) Creating effective student engagement in online course: What do students find engaging? Journal of the Scholorship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2), pp. 1-13,

McKerlich,  Ross, Marianne Riis, Terry Anderson, and Brad Eastman (2011). Student Perceptions of Teaching Presence, Social Presence and Cognitive Presence in a Virtual World. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3).

Shea, Peter, Jason Vickers, and Suzanne Hayes (2010). Online Instructional Effort Measured through the Lens of Teaching Presence in the Community of Inquiry Framework: A Re-Examination of Measures and Approach. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Volume 11, Number 3.

Q4.  Three types of teaching presence.

A.4.  As summarized by the instructor teaching presence consists of three components; 1) preparing adequately (e.g., content, instructional design/organization, technological fluency); 2) Facilitating discourse (i.e., enabling peer-peer and peer-instructor interactions) and 3) Direct instruction (i.e., producing deep learning of content). The latter two most frequently overlap: Instructional Design and Organization, Facilitating Discourse and Direct Instruction.

These might be considered as the de minimus, as a fourth component might be considered: post-class availability (e.g., guidance/mentoring).  Although the number of those opting for this self-determined learning is quite small, the on-line instructor might be considered as an appropriate resource.

Preparing adequately. This can include things like

It is assumed that the instructor/facilitator is a content expert.  It also requires that:

  • Content is organized in a way consistent with an on-line course
  • Age appropriate learning models (pedagogy, andragogy, heutagogy) are applied
  • Materials care developed to reflects multiple learning styles.
  • The instructor is technically savvy in the on-line tools being employed.
  1. Facilitating Discourse. This includes both peer-peer and peer-instructor interactions. And, while grading rubrics will more than likely stimulate some peer and student-instructor interactions, instilling a CoI whereby peers go beyond what is required to earn a grade should be the ultimate goal.
  1. Direct Instruction. Producing deep learning is probably the greatest challenge. This type of learning, needed for both technical as well as non-technical materials, allows the students to integrate the knowledge into their own lives. It goes beyond the simple analyses for homework or term paper. The transformation of teacher’s direct instruction into a student’s deep learning that makes a CoI most successful.
  1. Post-class engagement. Having repeatedly inserted the post class interaction between student and instructor, it seems appropriate to suggest that in addition to a CoI of inquiry during the class, the student who seeks additional guidance from the instructor or pursues additional CoI’s after the class is done, demonstrates the self-motivated learner.

Q.5 Select 1 type of presence and suggest how it might be improved,

A.5 Having gone out on a limb with my fourth element of teacher presence, by offering two types of improvements I will be hedging my bets (a bit).

Direct Instruction: The safe response. Direct Instruction at its best, produces deep learning. More than the mere analysis, compare and contrast of content, deep learning can likely be improved in two ways:

Creating assignments where the information has practical relevance. For example, in a f2f class I taught, I required students to identify at least one way the chapter content related to their personal lives.

The second way is to create “what-if” scenarios where the student must integrate learned information and then apply it to different situations. In courses like geometry, it can be as easy as having the student apply the same formula with one or more variables changed.

Post-class engagement: out on a limb. Post class engagement occurs rarely: they are the students, prompted by deep learning, to pursue additional learning in a subject matter on their own.

With f2f and blended training programs, I created on-line conference calls or f2f monthly meetings where interested students can attend and discuss some agreed upon topic. In an on-line learning environment this can be attained through a blackboard situation. Going forward in both asynchronous and synchronous environments, I’d either have myself as the moderator and/or ask students to suggest potential readings.

Another thing that I do with f2f classes is make sure students know how to get in touch with me after the class, making it clear that I am available for additional guidance.

Q.7 How readings and research relate to Blackboard instruction.

A.7 There are several ways that the readings and personal research relate to the Blackboard. For example:

  • Although I practiced both Instructional and Teacher Presence for as long as I can remember, I never knew what they were called. To me they were just “good teaching”.

The addition of the student perspective to the discussion of CoI seems worthy of additional discussion.

Having been stimulated into self-learning modalities and seeking additional training (e.g., this program), I think that post-class engagement needs additional attention.

Current discussions of heutagogy, suggest that the concept while intriguing remains a bit “mushy” and too philosophical. This makes it hard to operationalize for research purposes. I also question if the concept is an upper middle class construct.  In other words, it may not be applicable to populations where education, beyond task learning, is a luxury item.

Q8. Most important Blackboard contributor.

A8. Without question, it is Christen Smith. Her posts are always well thought out, no typos, insightful and on point.

Her ability to distinguish between video as a tool to transmit information as well as a tool to give feedback offers some potential for on-line, blended and f2f coursework.

I am thinking of having students in a f2f class, prepare, as homework, a video from either a webcam or cell phone and send it back to me for review and comment. If my goal of transforming another totally on-line course into a blended class is approved, the use of videos for training and feedback will be core to several modules.

The following is only one of the posts with which I resonated.

I realize that when I first looked at this topic, I was only thinking in terms of Video as a mode of delivering content and not as a means for providing feedback.  Maybe it’s because I teach English, but I don’t think Video feedback works well in my area.  I think instructors can give general global responses, but it’s challenging to make specific references to what a student has written in a paper.  I find that my students seems to prefer when I use Microsoft Word Review.  That way they can get general comments on each page or paragraph, and they can also get very specific feedback on exact lines.  

I do have a colleague who has been trying to use 3 min. audio files to record essay feedback.  I know she struggles to be concise and stay within the max 3 minutes.  I suspect that the audio files would be more beneficial if she used an app that could highlight the portion of the essay she was describing as she recorded.  Does anyone know of an app like this? 

Q.9 Application of weekly learnings to my portfolio of on-line efforts.

A. 9 This module reinforces my attempt to get through (i.e., teach skills) to students (especially those that are non-receptive) in ways that they can complete a task on their own.

The some of the comments about the breadth of my potential project and concepts that I may need to operationalize has me trying to dial back what I want to accomplish to what is manageable.

My ongoing efforts to be a role model and resource to my students both during and after the term.

Although it is well beyond my expertise for now and the foreseeable future, the viability of virtual worlds as a tool for a broad range of learning from the arts and humanities, to the behavioral and hard sciences , as well as professional education.


4 thoughts on “Module 05 Homework

  1. “CoI’s consists of three highly complex contributors: thought, emotion and behavior. The three facets can be presented as a Venn diagram consisting of unique and overlapping elements that can happen in both synchronous and asynchronous on-line learning environments.”

    I really like that you included this in your definition! It is an extremely important part of teaching presence and I think when people are able to visualize it in a Venn diagram it makes more sense, at least to us visual learners.
    Great post!


    • Thanks for the comment. Sorry for the delayed response. Being a blog “newbie”, I just found it a few minutes ago.

      For many reasons, far beyond what is easily explained in a short space, I found myself forced to use both my right and left brains pretty much full time. And when teaching, I always try to use both analytic and visual/auditory examples.

      It doesn’t always look, but I try.


  2. Interesting ideas, going out on a limb with a fourth construct for Teaching Presence. How do you distinguish this from the discourse aspect?


  3. Brian, thank you for your question, In my gut and head, I understand the distinction; however, this week’s assignment, I will need a couple of days to articulate what I think are the similarities and differences.

    Thanks for your patience.


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