Skip to Main Content
MCPHS Library Logo

Center for Teaching & Learning: Perspectives on Teaching & Learning

Supporting the MCPHS faculty and staff in their commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching and learning

Is There Anybody Out There? Enhancing Teacher Presence Online

by Reena Lederman Gerard on 2019-09-16T16:06:00-04:00 in Educational Technology | 0 Comments

Online courses are what you make of them. They exist on a continuum from impersonal, maybe even alienating, to inclusive and engaging. An instructor must to bring their humanity to the course. They must demonstrate through instructor presence that they are not robots. This is one of the most important elements to online learning success. However, in an online course, there are challenges. In their blog post, I Am Not a Robot (2019), authors Price and Price highlight three approaches for enhancing online classroom presence:

  • “Screenomics” (Reeves, et al., 2019) – Student course activity (available through course reports) paints a picture of the course experience. Using this information, instructors can evaluate progress and make course adjustments as needed. The course can be tweaked (within reason and depending upon the syllabus).
  • Communication –Adopting several of the common online communication modes (e.g., video chat, messaging, virtual office hours, telephone, emails, video presentations, discussion forums) promotes faster and more efficient communication. The increased instructor availability demonstrates that the instructor is paying attention and is responsive.
  • Framing – Aligned with communication is the presentation of self. It is reasonable to maintain a degree of privacy, and at the same time, it is appropriate to share something. Students are often asked to introduce themselves in online courses. Instructors should do likewise. This is an opportunity to “frame” who they are, which provides students a sense of connection and allows the instructor to drive the course “narrative”.

These three actions will get your semester off on the right foot. Additionally, the authors’ conclusion presents several challenges to the approaches above, and it is worth reading.


Price, K. & Price, J. (2019, September 16). I am not a robot [Blog post]. Retrieved from

B. Reeves, N. Ram, T. Robinson, J. Cummings, C. Giles, J. Pan, A. Chiatti, M. Cho, K. Roehrick, X. Yang, A. Gagneja, M. Brinberg, D. Muise, Y. Lu, M. Luo, A. Fitzgerald and L. Yeykelis, “Screenomics: A Framework to Capture and Analyze Personal Life Experiences and the Ways that Technology Shapes Them,” Human-Computer Interaction (March 2019)

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.



Educational Technology
  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.

Connect with the MCPHS Libraries via Social Media: Instagram