Aimee Whiteside is an associate professor at the University of Tampa where she previously served as interim co-director her university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She recently co-edited the book, Social Presence in Online Learning: Multiple Perspectives on Research and Practice, with Amy Garrett Dikkers and Karen Swan. Her work has been featured in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Online Learning Journal (OLJ), Journal of Interactive Online Learning (JIOL), International Journal of E-Learning and Distance Education (IJEDE), EDUCAUSE Review, and the Online Learning Consortium’s Effective Practices. Additionally, she has written chapters in several books, such as Emotions, Technology, and Learning and Computer-Mediated Communication across Cultures: International Interactions in Online Environments as well as special volumes in the Advances in Research on Teaching and the New Directions in Teaching and Learning series.
<em>Social presence,</em> or connectedness among instructors and learners, offers a pathway for cultivating meaningful learning experiences. Educators can honor Mister Rogers’s legacy by challenging themselves to integrate social presence into their practice—leading with compassion, celebrating diversity and creativity, and simultaneously modeling the importance of inquiry, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Social presence remains the key to a successful learning experience, and understanding social presence, with its critical connection to learning and community building, allows us to better support faculty and students.
Teaching in high-tech learning environments that center on collaboration and team-based learning often requires a complete course redesign and great deal of faculty time.