An Examination of Online Instructor Presence via Threaded Discussion Participation
Central to the effectiveness of online learning is the issue of instructor presence and the role of interactivity in establishing this presence. Though the literature clearly supports the need for instructors' active engagement in online courses, concrete standards and expectations for guiding this interaction are lacking. The purpose of the current study is to examine faculty perceptions regarding the extent to which instructor interactivity, operationalized as participation in online threaded discussions, should be evaluated and regulated in order to establish clear benchmarks and expectations for instructor presence in the online classroom. Feedback from online instructors revealed little agreement among experienced online instructors in the extent to which the quality and frequency of online instructor interaction should be monitored and/or evaluated. The implications of these findings suggest that institutions must establish clear standards for instructor interaction, as well as criteria for evaluation of instructor engagement, in order to guide faculty concerning best practices in online learning.
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