Promoting Social Presence in a Social Networking Environment in a Kuwaiti Higher Education Context
Date: 5 March 2014
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
Recently, the numbers of Higher Education institutions that are using Web 2.0 technologies and social networking sites are increasing dramatically. These sites offer unique and diverse learning opportunities. There is evidence that a sense of community can be created online and that this community is connected with perceived learning. ...
Recently, the numbers of Higher Education institutions that are using Web 2.0 technologies and social networking sites are increasing dramatically. These sites offer unique and diverse learning opportunities. There is evidence that a sense of community can be created online and that this community is connected with perceived learning. Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) introduced and developed the Community of Inquiry framework as a dynamic process model and a comprehensive framework to guide the research and practice of online learning communities, and to describe and measure elements supporting the development of these communities. This framework consists of three elements - social, teaching and cognitive presence - as well as categories and indicators to define each presence and guide the coding of transcripts. The categories of social presence are affective responses, open communication and group cohesion. The categories of teaching presence are instructional design and organisation, facilitating discourse and direct instruction. Previous studies suggest that a positive social climate on an online learning community is important as it can improve learning experience and cognitive presence. This study aims to explore and understand the nature of Community of Inquiry presences, in particular teaching presence and social presence. The aim of the study is to understand the influence of a different teaching presence on students’ development of social presence. This study provides a more comprehensive picture of developing students’ social presence over changing teaching presence in a social network environment in a Kuwaiti higher education context. In order to achieve the purpose of this study, the following research questions are explored: 1- How does a students’ sense of social presence change with a different teaching presence in the social network environment within a Kuwaiti higher education context? a. Does a students’ sense of social presence (affective responses, open communication and group cohesion) change as a result of a different teaching presence (facilitating discourse - direct instruction) in the social network environment in a Kuwaiti higher education context? b. Why do participants maintain or change their social presence level during the course? 2- How does the use of teaching presence promote the development of students’ social presence in a Kuwaiti higher education context within the social network environment? The study was conducted in the second semester of 2010/2011 at The Education Technology Department - The College of Basic Education - The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), within the State of Kuwait. The study was carried out on the Educational Communication module and involved 46 male participants. This study uses the equivalent of mixed methods design to answer research questions. The sequential explanatory strategy is embedded within an applied quasi-experimental approach. Quantitative data is collected and analysed, which is then followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data. The researcher used a messages analysis and a content analysis approach to reveal the level of social presence in an online community and then develop stimulated recall interview questions. A combination of individual interviews and focus group interviews were used. Garrison et al.’s (2000) social presence coding schemes were developed to make them more suitable in the study context. Quantitative and qualitative data show that there is no significant difference between the effects of facilitating discourse and direct instruction in terms of students’ social presence level. Stimulated recall interviews reveal that most participants cannot distinguish between facilitating discourse and direct instruction. The participants believe that facilitating discourse and direct instruction are similar. The participants’ responses lead the researcher to search for other motives that could promote the development of students’ social presence in the higher education context in the social network environment. The study concludes that there are two factors that could promote the development of students’ social presence. First, instructional design and organisation, such as web design satisfaction, network effect, instructor responsiveness, the nature of the task and awarding degrees. Second, learner-specific matters, such as previous experience, peer influence, friendship, attitude, self-esteem and self-confidence and something I refer to as the Wave Effect.
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