Social presence reconsidered : moving beyond, going back, or killing social presence

Oztok, Murat and Kehrwald, Ben (2017) Social presence reconsidered : moving beyond, going back, or killing social presence. Distance Education, 38 (2). pp. 259-266. ISSN 0158-7919

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Online education research has long employed the concept of social presence to study interactions in technologically-mediated spaces. Yet, a precise shared definition of social presence does not exist. There is a lack of clarity around this term and conflation with other phenomena. As researchers and practitioners striving for clarity, do we need such a heavily burdened and deeply ambiguous term? To support the development of clarity and provide a way forward with current conversations about social presence, this article traces how the concept of social presence has been developed and appropriated in the online and distance education literature. We do not simply focus on the historical trajectory of the concept but discuss how it is utilized to address the growing complexities of social interactions in parallel to the increasing affordances of new technologies. Our aim is to illustrate that social presence is over extended and widely stretched to correspond with the possibilities of socialization and that it has long lost its depth and breadth, and thus, its analytical strength. We argue that we should focus more on the relative salience of interpersonal relationships if we are to understand the relational aspects of being online.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Distance Education
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Distance Education on 10/05/2017, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? social presenceonline educationonline communicationcomputer-mediated communicationbeing onlineeducation ??
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Deposited On:
08 May 2017 13:42
Last Modified:
16 Feb 2024 00:45