Teacher Presence and Social Presence in Virtual and Blended Courses

Gila Cohen Zilka, Revital Cohen, Ilan Rahimi
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 17  •  2018  •  pp. 103-126
Aim/Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between teacher presence and social presence on one hand, and feelings of challenge and threat, self-efficacy, and motivation among students studying in virtual and blended courses on the other.

Background: Physical separation between teacher and learners may lead to transactional distance, which should be reduced through teacher presence (TP) and social presence (SP). In this study we examined two types of courses, virtual courses (VCs) and blended courses (BCs).

Methodology: This is a mixed-method study. Participants completed a threat/challenge questionnaire, a motivation questionnaire, a self-efficacy questionnaire, and answered open-ended questions. The sample included 484 students from two academic institutions in the Israel.

Contribution: The study highlights the connection between critical factors involved in learning and teaching in VCs and BCs (teacher presence, social presence, feelings of challenge and threat, self-efficacy, and motivation) from the point of view of students studying in VCs and BCs. Is there a correlation between teacher presence and social presence on one hand, and the perception of threat and challenge, motivation, and self-efficacy on the other in students studying in VCs and BCs?

Findings: A link was found between teacher presence and social presence on one hand and feelings of challenge and threat, self-efficacy, and motivation of students in VCs and BCs on the other. At the same time, it was found that the perceptions of motivation, challenge, and threat associated with VCs and BCs are interrelated, that is, students have similar perceptions in relation to both types of courses.

Recommendations for Practitioners : It is preferable to create a learning environment that supports the learners and is attentive to their needs and to the creation of an active learning community. It has been found that these factors greatly influence the process and the quality of learning in the course.

Recommendations for Researchers: The study examined the subjective feelings of the students about the learning process in virtual and blended environments. We recommend continuing to explore the characteristics of the virtual environment and of teaching methods in these environments.

Impact on Society: The combination of virtual and blended learning environments in the learning process may lead to the realization of the educational vision of creating a learning environment that supports students and responds to their needs, enabling autonomous and collaborative learning while creating a learning community.

Future Research: It is advisable to examine the issue from the perspective of the teachers in VCs and BCs to elucidate the topic from other angles.
blended course, challenge, motivation, learning community, self-efficacy, virtual course, social presence, teacher presence, threat, transactional distance
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