Scoping social presence and social context: Cues to support knowledge construction in an ICT rich environment
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The purpose of this paper is to capture and bracket the learning experiences of 164 first year students as they make the transition from a conventional face-to-face setting to an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enhanced learning environment. Where this kind of learner transition was once considered novel and worthy of 'examination' in its own right, it is now a commonplace experience (albeit non-trivial) and has taken its place at the table of the change-management (and various other literatures). The aim of this paper is to refocus the 'New Learning Technologies' discussion on aspects of learning, in particular to critically examine social presence in the face-to-face and online learning environment and how this is linked to processes of knowledge construction. In this context, the 'Lonely Planet Guide' is identified for its high social presence attributes - its social context and origin; its mode of communication and how it stimulates knowledge construction through interactivity. Dimensions of social presence are defined and examined, and indices are assigned to both face-to-face as well as online learning episodes for purposes of comparison. Three dimensions of social presence-social context, communication, and interactivity-emerged as important elements in the processes of knowledge construction in both an ICT and face-to-face setting. Findings indicate an increase in the level of online interaction occurs with an improved level of social presence, a phenomenon most exhibited by female participants. While comparisons between face-to-face and ICT supported learning episodes can be used to inform all aspects of our teaching, the paper concludes that knowledge construction in an ICT setting can be enhanced by considering learner characteristics, by selecting the appropriate ICT-mediated communication medium, and by applying appropriate instructional elements to course design.
2004 Australian Association for Research in Education Conference Proceedings
© The Author(s) 2004 Griffith University. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.