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Online Classroom or Community-in-the-Making? Instructor Conceptualizations and Teaching Presence in International Online Contexts
Morgan, Tannis

JournalJournal of Distance Education
Volume 25, Issue 1
CountryCanada, North America

The community of inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000 ) has been an important contribution to the online distance education field and has been useful in providing researchers with the construct of "teaching presence". Teaching presence as described by the framework provides insight into the types of interactions instructors make in online teaching, but is less useful in helping to understand the why’s of instructors’ interactive decisions. In this study, activity theory (Engestrom, 1999, 2001) was adopted as a theoretical framework to understand the why’s of teaching presence, revealing a complex negotiation between instructors as subjects and the mediating components of the activity system. The article suggests that a shift to understanding teaching presence within a sociocultural perspective has important implications for teaching and design, as well as the methodologies inherent in the community of inquiry framework. A sociocultural definition of teaching presence is provided in attempt to provide a broader understanding of this construct.

Le cadre de référence sur les communautés d’enquête (Community of Inquiry Framework)(Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) a été une contribution importante au domaine de l’éducation à distance en ligne et a permis de fournir aux chercheurs le concept de la « présence enseignante » (teaching presence). La présence enseignante, telle que décrite par le cadre de référence nous permet de mieux comprendre les différents types d’interactions qu’ont les instructeurs lors de l’enseignement en ligne, mais est moins utile lorsqu’il s’agit de comprendre le pourquoi des décisions prises par les instructeurs au niveau de leurs interactions. Dans la présente étude, la théorie de l’activité (activity theory) (Engestrom, 1999, 2001) a été employée comme cadre de référence théorique afin de comprendre le pourquoi de la présence enseignante, révélant ainsi une négociation complexe entre les instructeurs en tant que sujets et les éléments médiateurs du système d’activité. L’article suggère qu’un virage vers une compréhension de la présence enseignante, d’un point de vue socioculturel, a d’importantes implications au niveau de l’enseignement et de la conception, de même qu’au niveau des méthodologies inhérentes au cadre de référence sur les communautés d’enquête. Une définition socioculturelle de la présence enseignante est proposée afin de tenter de fournir une compréhension plus étendue de ce concept.

Keywords teaching presence · community of inquiry · activity theory · sociocultural theory · distance education · online learning · international

CoI focusTeaching presence
MethodologyActivity theory
Study designInterview
Data analysisTranscript analysis
Study aim"This article discusses one of the findings of my study on the negotiation of teaching presence in international, online distance education (DE) courses: the influence of instructor conceptualizations on their teaching presence."
Finding"... there is considerable variation in how an instructor perceives the interaction spaces within a course and even when two interaction spaces (such as a discussion forum topic) share the same functions and objectives, there can be variation between the two instructors."
RightsCC BY
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