Exploring Social Presence In Computer Conferencing
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This study explores the relationship between asynchronous, text-based forms of social communication and students' perceptions of the social climate of computer conferences. A 21-item questionnaire was administered to 74 students from 4 faculties. Students rated the social climate of the conference along six dimensions. A majority of students found the conference warm, friendly, trusting, disinhibiting, and personal. Students also rated the perceived frequency of 15 types of social communication The correlation between aggregate scores for both sets of variables was r = .4, p <.001, r squared = .16. A series of one way-ANOVA's indicated that an increase in the perceived frequency of 7 of the 15 social expressions corresponded to more positive ratings of the social environment. The 7 social expressions included addressing others by name, complimenting, expressing appreciation, using the reply feature to post messages, expressing emotions, using humor, and salutations. Based on responses to two open-ended questi ons, moderators are encouraged to seek a balance between social communication and challenging and productive discussion.