Presence in E-Learning: Theoretical Model and Perspectives for Research

By Jézégou, Annie | International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, May 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Presence in E-Learning: Theoretical Model and Perspectives for Research


Jézégou, Annie, International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education


Abstract

This article proposes a model of presence in e-learning that is based on Garrison & Anderson's (2003) community of inquiry (COI) model. While the proposed model is similar to the COI model, there are some significant differences. It addresses the notion of presence from a different angle, and characterizes and specifies it differently. The article outlines the epistemological referents of the model proposed and describes the interaction processes at work in each of the three dimensions of the model: socio-cognitive presence (1), socio-affective presence (2) and pedagogical presence (3). The article concludes by outlining the theoretical and empirical research that is needed to confirm the relevance of the model proposed and to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

Résumé

L'auteure de cet article propose un modèle de la présence en elearning. Ce modèle comporte quelques similitudes avec le modèle de community of inquiry en e-learning (Garrison et Anderson, 2003) mais également des différences importantes. En effet, il aborde la notion de présence sous un autre angle, la caractérise et la décline différemment. L'auteure précise tout d'abord les référents épistémologiques du modèle proposé. Ensuite, elle décrit les processus interactionnels à l'oeuvre dans chacune des trois dimensions du modèle : la présence socio-cognitive (1), la présence socio-affective (2) et la présence pédagogique (3). Elle propose également une représentation schématique de ce modèle. Puis, elle montre la manière dont ses trois dimensions peuvent s'articuler et formule les principales hypothèses qui résultent de ces articulations. Pour terminer, l'auteure précise notamment que ce modèle doit être soumis à l'épreuve de réflexions théoriques et de travaux empiriques afin de confirmer sa pertinence, déterminer ses forces et lui apporter, si nécessaire, des axes d'amélioration.

Introduction

In an earlier article, Jézégou (2010a) presented a critical analysis of the Community of Inquiry model in e-learning (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Garrrison, Anderson & Archer, 2010), discussing the strengths and weaknesses of this model. The author outlined that one of the model's main strengths is that it provides a way to heuristically stimulate research on e-learning. Indeed, this model emphasizes the notion of presence in e-learning while separating it into three dimensions: cognitive presence, social presence and educative presence.

The primary weakness of this model relates to the hypothesis that presence promotes deep and meaningful learning outcomes. Rourke and Kanuka's (2009) review of the empirical research over the last decade suggests this hypothesis has not been verified. These difficulties originate from the fact that the authors of the Community of Inquiry model in e-learning do not make explicit the epistemological frameworks to which they refer, namely the philosophy of pragmatism and socioconstructivism.

Jézégou (2010a) attempted to answer Rourke and Kanuka's call (2009) for substantial research to strengthen the Community of Inquiry model in e-learning. She proposed several theoretical perspectives to substantiate the assumptions of the model. However, the following work did not pursue this direction: it moved away from this model to develop a new model of presence in elearning (Jézégou, 2010b, 2012). This new model addresses the notion of presence in e-learning from a different angle and characterizes it differently.

This paper builds on this earlier work and presents the essential features of a model of presence in elearning, especially its epistemological referents and its main dimensions, and how they are related. At the same time, it outlines the four main hypotheses resulting from this theoretical model.

1. The two epistemological referents of the model proposed

The model of presence in e-learning (Jézégou, 2012) supports the principle that certain forms of social interaction among learners-but also between the trainer and the learners-can create presence in the digital space of e-learning, when the learners are engaged in distance collaboration. …

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