OSCQR – Standard #40

OSCQR – Standard #40

Learners have an opportunity to get to know the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’ (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Social presence relies on establishing a welcoming online learning space, as well as acknowledging each individual learner as a valued member of the learning community.

When learners understand the background of their instructor, the “distance” between instructor/learners is mitigated. The tone and approach of the instructor in regard to self-introduction will serve as a model for learners. It is important that learners feel the instructor is easily accessible, and willing to communicate consistently throughout the course.

Instructors who share personal narratives make a lasting impression on online learners (Aragon, 2003). These personal narratives humanize the instructor, and provide credibility and history to support instructor expertise.


Aragon, S. R. (2003). Creating Social Presence in Online Environments. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (100), 57-68.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

Provide an instructor introductory video (with captioning and accompanying script for ADA compliance) is a wonderful way for learners to get to know the instructor.

  • Communicate effectively to establish and maintain Social Presence in the online class community.
  • Create an instructor profile/contact, content, images/photos, announcements, instructions for activities with personal “voice” to establish the instructor’s social presence and credibility in the course.
  • Include a course page that explains what learners can expect from the instructor (feedback expectations, login frequency, discussion participation) can help them feel at ease with understanding a particular classroom management style.
  • Give learners permission to communicate directly with you via phone, and set parameters for when you are available for contact.
  • Create an “All About Me” instructor welcome page with links to your professional highlights and personal interests.
  • Participate fully in the welcome/ice-breaker discussion forum.
  • Schedule progress meetings to check in with your learners via phone or virtual meeting tool.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explore methods and approaches to creating pathways where learners have opportunities to get to know the instructor in online courses.

Increasing Participation and Engagement in Student Introduction Posts Through Narrative
It can be difficult for students to connect with each other and with instructors in web-based courses. A number of strategies, design-decisions, and activities can be used to alleviate this issue (Vonderwell, 2003). One commonly used activity is the introduction post – the digital correlate of the in-class introduction. (Read more …)
Reach More Students with Targeted Office Hours
One of the biggest challenges instructors face with large class sizes is connecting with students individually. Often students will make use of office hours for that personal connection, but there are only so many hours in the day and teaching online adds another layer of complexity. (Read more …)
Welcome Messages
A welcome message to students before the course begins is an important step in establishing your online persona (Bellafiore, 2007; Gibson and Blackwell, 2005; Mensch and Ali, 2007; and Phillips, 2011). The purpose of this communication is to welcome the students, establish a comfortable class environment, introduce the class syllabus, schedule, protocols, and to/or establish a weekly routine. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Hong, W. (2008). 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching. Online Classroom, 1-5.
Orlando, J. (2015). Methods for Welcoming Students to Your Course. Online Classroom, 15(5), 7-8.
Ryman, S., Burrell, L., Hardham, G., Richardson, B., & Ross, J. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Online Learning Communities: Designing for Transformative Learning. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 5(3), 32-45.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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