The Impacts of Text-Based CMC on Online Social Presence

Chih-Hsiung Tu
George Washington University


Social presence is a critical influence on learners’ online social interaction in an online learning environment via computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems. This study examines how three CMC systems, e-mail, bulletin board, and real-time discussion, influence the level of online social presence and privacy. Mixed methods were applied to examine the relationships of three CMC systems with social presence and privacy. The results indicate (a) E-mail is perceived to possess the highest level of social presence, followed by the real-time discussion and bulletin board; (b) one-to-one e-mail was perceived to have a higher level of privacy while one-to-many was perceived less privacy; and (c) in addition to the attributes of CMC systems, learners’ perceptions of CMC systems impacted level of privacy as well. This study suggested that the format of CMC systems, e-mail and real-time discussion should be examined in two different formats: one-to-one e-mail, one-to-many e-mail, one-to-one real-time discussion, and many-to-many real-time discussion.

About the Author(s)...

Dr. Chih-Hsiung Tu is an Assistant Professor at The George Washington University and teaches an online master’s program in educational technology leadership. His research interests include distance education, eLearning, socio-cognitive learning, socio-cultural learning, social presence, and knowledge management. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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