Virtual High School Teacher and Student Reactions to the Social Presence Model
Using the Social Presence Model (SPM), the authors explore the teacher and student experience at the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), the largest public online secondary school where teachers design and develop the curriculum. Through a series of surveys, focus groups, and interviews, this two-year mixed methods study investigates the concept of social presence through the SPM. The overall findings suggest that teachers value all five elements of the SPM and see it as an important new heuristic for achieving increased student satisfaction and outcomes. Students largely did not find the Model useful, except for the Instructor Involvement element. Furthermore, because of their online learning experiences, students noted an increased investment in their own learning. Further analysis suggests the importance of integrating connectedness and social presence into student orientations and teacher professional development opportunities. Overall, social presence serves as learning a new language—a new literacy—that is essential to a successful online teaching and learning experience.