To understand the factors of learning and communication involved in computer mediated communication (CMC), the means by which teachers and students in online learning environments interact, the paper studies the concept of social presence. Originally, social presence was used to define the quality of communication in relation to the innate characteristics of the medium used. However, this did not wholly explain the viable qualities and effects of CMC.
Thus, the definition of social presence has evolved, and been split between many different interpretations to the point where researchers and practitioners have not completely agreed on its actual nature. Because of the confusion as to the definition of the concept, there has also been much difficulty in finding a standard means of measuring the degree of social presence. Thus, most researchers tend to measure social presence according to the definition of it that they adopt with some researchers making schemes to measure social presence based on what they formulated to be its categories and indicators, or dimensions and variables.
What the researchers agree on, though, is that no matter the method of quantifying social presence, there are positive relationships between this concept and student satisfaction, interaction, and perceived learning. Thus, the concept of “teacher presence” was developed, as the degree of social presence was deemed to rely heavily on the instructor, which resulted in certain strategies to establish and maintain social (teacher) presence being formulated.