Fostering social presence on the virtual learning teams in the Master of Arts programs in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University
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Subjectdistance learning; intentional learning design; learning management system; social presence; virtual learning teams
Social presence is a key factor in student satisfaction and success in online courses and a marker for whether one has an online learning experience that is engaged, vibrant, and connected, or simply perfunctory. Royal Roads University (RRU), located in Victoria, British Columbia, offers programs that are primarily delivered in a blended model; over 70% of students participate in virtual teams at RRU and up to 50% of assignments may involve group projects or team-based work. Sponsored by the director of Student Services at RRU, this action research project was designed to determine how to foster social presence on the virtual teams in the Master of Arts (MA) programs in the School of Education and Technology (SET) at Royal Roads University (RRU). In order to support the development of social presence, the commitment and participation of multiple departments is required. This research shows that a common organizational understanding of social presence, clear delineation of student and faculty roles and responsibilities in its development, as well as intentional program design and a learning management system (LMS) that specifically lends to interpersonal relationship building must all be present in order to foster the development of social presence.
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