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How Do I Create Social Presence in My Online Classes?

Presenters: Wren Mills, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning Adjunct, English and Leadership Studies, Western Kentucky University

This course is worth 1 hour (0.1 CEU) of professional development. A certificate of completion can be printed once the program has been completed.


About this Course


No computer monitor won Teacher of the Year.

One of the things that makes traditional classroom learning so effective is social presence. Your students can see you, know you, and connect with you – and vice versa. They can connect with one another, too, building a sense of belonging and an impressive group dynamic.

Social presence is just as important in online teaching – maybe even more so. The way you go about establishing it is quite a bit different, however.

Learn the tools and techniques for successfully building social presence online in this eye-opening 20-Minute Mentor.


You’ll find helpful, use-it-now information at every turn, as the presenter delivers insights on:

  • Why social presence matters
  • When to start cultivating it (sooner than you think!)
  • How to handle online introductions
  • How videos can be critical social tools and why you don’t have to be a “star” to use them
  • Which early icebreakers and team builders are most effective
  • How to give prompt, meaningful feedback
  • How to use your syllabus to promote interaction among students
  • Which “office hours” policies are best for online students
  • How to use assignments to boost engagement
  • When to use your phone – as an actual phone

Learning goals

At the conclusion of the seminar, you’ll know how to:

  • Describe the nature and importance of social presence
  • Plan and execute a process for making yourself known to students
  • Design effective methods to build strong relationships with and among online students
  • Select and use the most effective media for connecting with students
  • Create classroom policies that help students feel empowered, connected, and invested
  • Use innovative assessment tools to boost engagement and provide immediate, one-on-one feedback

Topics covered

This fast, focused presentation centers on the social-presence concepts of intimacy and immediacy. It covers:

  • The impact of social presence for online community-building
  • Online course introductions and follow-up
  • Guidelines for communication
  • Best practices in assessment and feedback
  • Creative and effective (but easy!) uses of media


If you’re new to online teaching, you’ll find this seminar invaluable for making the kinds of connections with your class that boost student satisfaction and deliver strong learning outcomes. If you’re an experienced educator, this is an excellent opportunity to benchmark your current practices and fine-tune them to enhance your presence with your online students.