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The purpose of teacher presence is to produce personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile outcomes. Teacher presence has three parts: design, facilitation and direct instruction (Garrison 2007). It is highly significant for student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community. Students need to know who their teacher is.

Here are some ways to achieve teacher presence online:

  • audio feedback on an assignment
  • a warm biography with pictures
  • weekly summaries of activity
  • encouragement in short videos

The course notes tell us,

The overall importance of teaching presence can’t be overstated. It is critical to position engaged teaching at the forefront of your course design, in your direct teaching and instructions, and in your facilitation of activity. A lack of teacher presence will generate very high levels of transactional distance, probably more so than any other variable.

Video Reflections: Thoughts on Teacher Presence

The first speaker asks the overarching question, “What does it mean to be present with people in different online environments and what is the value of presence in those situations?”

Another speaker said that, compared to his on-campus graduate students, he was surprised to find he had more and richer interaction with online students because they study over a longer time.

In MOOCs, some presence is good but it’s lightweight. Teachers can’t be there to answer all the questions. Students need to come together as a community and help each other. Teachers should spend about 2 hours / month posting and answering questions in the forums. To this can be added live Q&A sessions on Google Hangouts every 1-2 months. Details of these should be emailed a week in advance, sending link to a related forum thread for questions. Encouragement can be sent via weekly emails with forum links. MOOC teachers should encourage discussions in forums with some prompts but also leave some space for learners to be independent. Lecture videos should include prompts to post in the forums, with threads created in the forums for each prompt question.

Questions about Teacher Presence

  1. We are asked about the evidence of the teacher’s presence in this training programme. Considering teaching presence as defined by Garrison (2007): design, facilitation and direct instruction, is there evidence of all three?
    Yes. There are interactive activities with feedback built in to the course design. There is commenting on discussions by the course leaders, and there are weekly emails with directions for the upcoming week.
  2. How might we construct our own teaching presence online. Give up to three examples.
    An ‘about’ page for course teachers, with photos. Video introductions and / or summaries of topics. Regular encouraging emails. Interaction in discussion boards and Padlets.


Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72.

A course about and for robots

(Teacher Presence with Lego Minifigures. Photo: