SOCIAL PRESENCE AND INTERDEPENDENCE
D. Randy Garrison
October 2, 2017

In this post I wish to draw your attention to the violation of one of the basic assumptions of the Community of Inquiry framework. It is my view that some studies do not fully appreciate the theoretical implications of the framework with regard to the interdependence of the presences. That is, the presences do not operate in isolation. One presence cannot be considered absent of the influence of the others. A recent example is a study by Armellini and De Stefani (2016) that does not appear to recognize the interdependence of social and teaching presence. The authors appear to make this error when they say “Contributions of a purely social nature are not accounted for within the teaching presence dimension. Teaching presence discourse would be more effectively described if there were an explicit social dimension within the construct” (p. 8).

More specifically here, teaching presence in a community of inquiry does not exist in a vacuum. In this instance teaching presence is reciprocally influenced by social and cognitive presence elements. The fact is that there is an explicit social and cognitive presence within teaching presence in a community of inquiry. As is visible in the CoI figure (see https://coi.athabascau.ca/), a deep and meaningful educational experience occurs at the intersection of all three presences. Research into anyone of the presences must concurrently consider the influence of the others.

This is reinforced in another recent publication that emphasizes the “co-occurrence” of the presences with regard to “communicative richness” and group cohesion (Guitierrez-Santiuste & Gallego-Arrufat, 2017). What is relevant to this discussion is that communication and coherence issues are very much associated with social presence. In an educational community of inquiry teaching and cognitive dynamics are inherently social. While we generally view the direction of the relationships in terms of social presence influencing teaching and cognitive presence, it is important to appreciate that these influences are reciprocal; they move in both directions; that is, teaching presence or cognitive presence will also influence social presence.

These reciprocal relationships raise areas for further research. One area raised recently is to explore “the relationship between social presence and perceived learning... moderated by the course length, discipline area, and target audience of the course” (Richardson, Maeda, Lv & Caskurlu, 2017, 402). Social presence also appears to be influenced by context and communication medium in that face-to-face meetings may have “more potential for social presence” (Turula, 2017). Moreover, refining and possibly expanding the dimensions of social presence (Kim, Song & Luo, 2016) remain a core area of research that can enhance our understanding of the structure and influence of social presence. Some time ago I attempted to do this by refining the description of social presence from the perspective of academic identity and purpose (Garrison, 2009; Garrison, 2017, pp. 41-42).

Social presence has attracted much attention with regards to thinking and learning collaboratively. While many questions remain this construct is embedded in a community of inquiry where deep and meaningful learning is a complex dynamic concurrently influenced at its core by varying degrees of all three presences.



REFERENCES

Armellini, A., & De Stefani, M. (2016). Social presence in the 21st century: An adjustment to the Community of Inquiry framework. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(6), 1202-1216.

Garrison, D. R. (2009b). Communities of inquiry in online learning. In P. L. Rogers, G. Berg, J. Boettcher, C. Howard, L. Justice & K. Schenk et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance learning (2nd ed.) (pp. 352-355). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd ed.). London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Guitierrez-Santiuste, E., & Gallego-Arrufat, M-J. (2017). Type and degree of co-occurrence of the educational communication in a community of inquiry. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(1), 62-71.

Kim, J., Song, H., & Luo, W. (2016). Broadening the understanding of social presence: Implications and contributions to the mediated communication and online education. Computers in Human Behavior, 65, 672-679.

Richardson, J.C.,  Maeda, Y., Lv, J., & Caskurlu, S. (2017). Social presence in relation to students' satisfaction and learning in the online environment: A meta-analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 402-417.

Turula, A. (2017). The shallows and the depths. Cognitive and social presence in blended tutoring. Technology, Pedagogy and Education. Retrieved September 20, 2017 from: http://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/doi/full/10.1080/1475939X.2017.1370388




POST A COMMENT
CONTRIBUTE A RESPONDING EDITORIAL


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D. Randy Garrison
Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary
D. Randy Garrison is professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.Dr. Garrison has published extensively on teaching and learning in adult, higher and distance education contexts. He has authored, co-authored or edited twelve books and well over 100 refereed articles/chapters.His recent books are Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry (2016) and E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition) (2017); for which he won second place for the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Division of Distance Learning Book Award, 2017.


RECENT EDITORIALS

CoI Questionnaire: 2.0?
D. Randy Garrison
July 13, 2021
My goal in this post is to draw attention to an important study that used advanced statistical techniques to analyze the CoI questionnaire (Abbitt & Boone, 2021). While exploring statistical anomalies may not be front of mind for most

Purposeful and Social Interaction
D. Randy Garrison
April 22, 2021
In a previous editorial I had addressed the challenge of designing a collaborative inquiry that goes beyond simple interaction to achieve deep and meaningful learning ( Editorial 18

Teaching Presence Meta-Analysis
D. Randy Garrison
January 16, 2021
I want to draw your attention to a theoretically and pragmatically significant meta-analysis of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) teaching presence construct. I describe teaching presence (TP) as the connective tissue of a functional community of ...

CoI Emergence and Influence
D. Randy Garrison
November 9, 2020
I was recently interviewed for a podcast focused on Reflective Teaching in a Digital Age ( https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/ ). The focus of

Intellectual Roots of DE and the CoI Framework
D. Randy Garrison
September 1, 2020
Bozkurt (2019) has provided a needed insight into the intellectual and theoretical development of the field of distance education through an analysis of 1685 articles from 1916 to 2018. This was precipitated by the fact that distance education (DE) has ...
The Community of Inquiry is a project of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, researchers of the Community of Inquiry framework, and members of the CoI community.