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Anderson (2018) acknowledges that there have been recommendations for additional presences,

such as vicarious, emotional, and autonomy presence, that he has not endorsed. He asserts that

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they already exist in the original model but notes that further definition within social presence may

address these recommendations. However, Anderson is supportive of adding learner presence to

the model based on a large study conducted by Shea and Bidjerano (2010). Learner presence

represents elements of online self-regulation, such as self-efficacy, cognition, behavior, and

motivation. Shea and Bidjerano (2010) examined the relationship between learner self-efficacy and

how they rated the quality of their learning in online learning environments and found a positive

relationship between the CoI framework and learner presence. Adding this presence allows for the

CoI model to evolve beyond a teaching model to a teaching and learning model in which teachers

need to match their teaching to the capacity of the learner (Anderson, 2018).


Paz and Pereira (2015) proposed that regulated learning be added to the teaching presence in the

CoI model to demonstrate the overlap between cognitive and teaching presence because it focuses

on the coregulation of learning and metacognition by both faculty and students. Adding this to

teaching presence acknowledges the role of both learners and faculty in the teaching process, which

is in keeping with Vygotsky’s (1978/1997) ZPD and collaborativist learning theory. However, the

categories within regulated learning found by the study conducted by Paz and Pereira seem to

coincide with group-process issues with collaborative group work because they include confirming

understanding of tasks, assessing work process, suggesting improvements, and reminding and

encouraging others to contribute to the work, to name a few.


The main point of adding regulated learning to cognitive presence in the CoI model or adding learner

presence as a fourth presence is that there is an acknowledgment of the need to consider both

teaching and learning because they inform each other in the online learning environment. Both of

these additions are congruent with our understanding that the three interactions of student to

content, student to student, and student to faculty and the three presences of the CoI model inform

each other.

Teaching Strategies to Demonstrate Presence and Engagement

Helping students move through the process of inquiry is much more demanding, requiring strong

online teaching skills. In today’s political and social environment of “alternate truths” and media

saturation, it is essential that students learn to critically explore and evaluate the information they

encounter and the knowledge they are constructing (Anderson, 2018). This is never more evident

than at the time of writing this chapter during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Many working

nurses are coping with caring for patients without proper personal protective equipment and

continual policy changes as evidence about the coronavirus evolves. This is a time when faculty and

students are learning together to maneuver through a global crisis.




Postlicensure nursing students are adult learners, are increasingly self-directed, and have

experiences that provide for a rich learning environment (Candela, 2020). Therefore, we see

ourselves as learners and colleagues in the online learning environment with a responsibility to

provide meaningful learning experiences that are relevant to the life and work experiences of

students. As colleagues, it has been our preference to use our first names in working with students.

However, given different students’ comfort level because of cultural differences, we advise them

that they may refer to us by our first name or by “Professor.” Collegiality does not negate the

responsibility of faculty to understand the power differential between faculty and student and the

impact of this on the faculty–student relationship.


It is important for faculty to be aware of the stressors students are facing, even in the best of times,

given the multiple competing demands on our students’ lives. The ability to have high standards

while holding students accountable yet being flexible meets the needs of adult learners. We, as

educators, have found this balance challenging at times. It is important for faculty to discern when

students are having difficulties with time management versus facing challenging life issues, such as a

dying parent, a divorce, or caring for a child with special needs. The faculty response needs to be one

of respect and compassion, whether it be holding students accountable to deadlines or granting

extensions. We work closely with the professional advisor to help students persist and be successful

in meeting their goals, as discussed in Chapter 4.


Faculty presence throughout the entire course is important to keep students engaged and

motivated. This can be challenging because there are many demands on faculty time. Nursing

students vary considerably in their ability to persist in the absence of a consistent teaching presence.

We have found that one way to ensure teaching presence during particularly busy times is to

monitor student participation on a weekly basis to ensure they are engaged and to reach out to

those who have not participated. In the discussion, we find it helpful to first respond to those

students who do not have a peer response.


Faculty provide an active teaching presence by drawing attention to important scaffolded concepts

by their selection and arrangement of course materials, highlighting specific course content, and

providing responses in the discussions. Faculty may also summarize discussions by highlighting

patterns. Further, faculty model the skills they expect of their students through their own responses

and feedback (Cormier & Siemans, 2010).


Faculty need to be able to sustain a strong presence through facilitation of the discussions and direct

instruction (Garrison, 2007). Further, Edwards, Perry, and Janzen (2011) found that exemplary online

faculty maintained high expectations and challenged students to think more deeply while also

finding opportunities to affirm their personal worth by letting students know that they were

succeeding. Exemplary online faculty recognized their students’ potential and encouraged them.

Table 9-3 lists some strategies that we have found helpful in demonstrating presence and

engagement that also illustrate that we care about our students and their success.




Online Collaborative Activities

Faculty need to carefully manage individual and collaborative learning activities that build on

constructivist and adult education theory. For example, collaborative discussions that are relevant to

nursing students’ experience provide opportunities for meaningful interaction that recognizes their

experience. Online activities can be offered synchronously or asynchronously.


Synchronous online activities are those learning activities that take place in realtime through the use

of video or audio-conferencing technology. We have found synchronous activities to be helpful in

providing instructions or clarifying a complex topic and addressing questions. Synchronous activities

should be recorded so that students who could not attend can listen to the recording on their own

time. Asynchronous activities involve students engaging in the same activities at different times and

locations. We have found that asynchronous activities are one of the many advantages of online

learning because of the flexibility to complete coursework based on the student’s schedule.


Group Work

Group work in the online learning environment can be particularly frustrating for both faculty and

students, which often results in avoiding it. Different styles of how students work contribute to the

challenges. For example, some students like to start early, and others wait until the last minute.

Some students like to take control, not trusting their peers, whereas some students prefer to let

others do the majority of the work. Further challenges involve living in different time zones and

having different work schedules. Therefore, it is very important to be purposeful in planning how the

group work will be set up, keeping in mind the leveling of coursework in the program of study and

the learning outcomes you want to achieve.


We have found that the key to successful group work is providing clear instructions and assigning

individual work that needs to be done first so that every group member comes prepared to fully

collaborate in the group experience. When students initially begin working in a group that requires a

final product, faculty need to provide information on the purpose of group work and guidance on

how to work collaboratively. It is important to closely monitor the group process to ensure that

students are working well together.


Harasim’s (2017) collaborativist theory and the CoI model are different, yet similar ways of

understanding how students may collaboratively move through the knowledge-construction



process. The collaborativist theory has not been used for research purposes to the extent that the

CoI model has. Chapter 15 presents an extensive study that assesses online collaborative discourse

in discussions and group work using collaborativist theory (formerly referred to as online

collaborative theory).


Asynchronous Discussions

Special attention is given to online discussions in this chapter because of the integral part they have

in online education. Online discussions provide a space for open-ended thinking, exchange of

information, and collaborative reflection, allowing students to make connections between theory

and practice and promoting peer learning (Arend, 2009; Liu, 2019). The purpose of online

discussions is to provide an opportunity for students to explore different concepts, apply course

material to real life, or dig deeper into a concept or topic (Arend, 2009). Many online instructors find

that the built-in time for reflection in asynchronous discussions encourages more critical and

reflective thought (Arend, 2009).


Constructing the discussion forum and the importance of the trigger questions or discussion

prompts are addressed in Chapter 8. Keeping in mind Bloom’s or Fink’s taxonomy, as discussed in

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