Social Presence through Instructional Media Production

Where does this fit into my teaching?

The interactions that you have with your online students influence their engagement in the course, their motivation to stick with it, and their successful achievement of the learning outcomes. Initiating these interactions with students is not only one of the Distance Education Guidelines, but it's just good teaching.

Social Presence refers to the presentation of oneself as a 'real person' in online interactions, and is essential for creating an online learning community in distance education courses. Studies have shown that social presence is a significant predictor of course retention in online courses (Gomez, Lin, & Yen, 2009).

How do we achieve social presence online? We regularly interact with our students and we give students opportunities for interacting with each other, just as they would expect in an on-campus course. Especially in courses such as math and computer science or courses that use publishers' websites to deliver content, check homework automatically and give exams, students need to have interaction with an instructor as well as with their classmates. With today's web tools, there are several ways for class members to get to know each other and initiate conversations, enabling a level of interactivity that was never possible with the limited technologies in the past. Posting a photo of yourself, using a video introduction, giving audio feedback, holding office hours with video conferencing - these are all examples of ways to make ourselves more present to our students in our online classes. Think of ways that you make yourself socially present in your own online class. Do you create a classroom environment that enables students to interact with you and learn from each other?

Examples of instructional media in online courses

Here are a few examples of ways that online instructors are achieving social presence through instructional media. There are several ways to do this, and there are various tools available to you. Browse through the examples that have been shared below.

Course Orientations, Welcome Videos, Introductions, Announcements, Motivators: A great way to get students feeling comfortable in your course is to use a video to orient and welcome them. Even once the semester has started, in an online class it's hard to stay motivated. A video from the instructor can be just what your student needs to get started, keep motivated, work hard, and stick with the course.

Course Lessons, Worked Problems, Assignment Feedback: Lots of teaching can take place in the online environment. Use audio/video to record class lessons. Students can access them as many times as they need to and they get to hear and see your expertise in action! Using audio/video is also a great way to give assignment instructions and to deliver feedback to individual students in the course.

Let Students Create: Don't be afraid to let students use media to submit their work to you. You'll get to hear from them, and they get to showoff a little bit of their creativity along the way.

Tools Available for Creating Instructional Media

There are so many tools available for SDCCD faculty to create instructional media. It can be confusing to decide which tool to use - especially when just getting started with the process. See the pages for each of these individual tools for more detailed information and tutorials available for you.

Canvas Studio

Price: Free for SDCCD staff & faculty.
Description: Canvas Studio is a server-based screencasting tool based in the Canvas LMS, all students and faculty at the SDCCD will have access to Canvas and Canvas Studio. The recordings can be downloaded to the local machine, and will be hosted on the Canvas Studio cloud storage. Captions can be generated upon request and will require editing to meet ADA Accessibility standards. For further information visit the Canvas Studio guide

Camtasia Studio

Price: $180 for a personal license (academic pricing)
or free 30-day trial 
or borrow the MMS
or come to the lab.
Description: Camtasia Studio is a piece of software available to faculty who borrow the MMS and/or come to work from the SDCCD Online Learning Pathways faculty lab. It is a fully featured recording, editing, and production software package that allows users to create and publish captioned media.

Free Instructional Media Tools (Jing, YouTube)

Price: Free.
Description: Check out the several other free tools available to you that will help you to be socially present in your online course. (Jing, YouTube, etc.).



Gomez, J., Lin, S., Yen, C. (2009). Community College Online Course Retention and Final Grade: Predictability of Social Presence. Journal of Interactive Online Learning. 8 (2), pp.165-182. Retrieved from