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Instructor Presence in Online Distance Classes

Instructor Presence in Online Distance Classes
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Author(s): Janet Lear (University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 4
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch174


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Instructor presence are words that call to mind a professor at the front of a classroom lecturing to a room full of students. Today the image associated with instructor presence is quite different. The vision is one of an individual engaged with the student, leading, and mentoring students, and facilitating classes either visibly in the classroom or invisibly in the online environment. Instructor presence is a broad phrase that refers to the instructor’s jobs of structuring and presenting the materials as well as providing feedback and engaging with the student academically through e-mail, by telephone, or by instant messaging either text or video. The roles are different but the outcome is the same, student learning. Gone are the days where the instructor was the center of the class, lecturing and passing along knowledge to students. Because today’s learner is actively involved in the building of new knowledge, learning is more student-focused. As the environment changes, the instructor assumes a variety of roles from designer to facilitator to mentor. The new roles are the same for both instructors in the face-to-face classroom and instructors in the online environment. Instructors for classes in the online environment cannot just compile a site for the class with materials available to the students. Instructors need to have an online presence as they facilitate the class mentoring students, providing activities, encouraging students, and communicating with student on a regular basis.

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