6 Content and Teacher Presence

Moving your teaching to the internet really complicates the relationship between “content” and “teacher presence”.

One of the most useful ways of thinking about content for online teaching is framing it as teacher presence. The distinction between your lectures, and the course textbook, and your comment in the discussion board, and the course assignment, was more obvious when teaching face-to-face. However, when we’re online, all of these things kind of blend together. Now your curation of the materials is part of your presence. The assignment you post is part of your presence. Everything you do (or don’t do) indicates something about your presence.

There is usually a direct relationship between perceived presence and student engagement. We say ‘perceived’ because your students need to know you’re there. Simply reading their comments in a discussion forum and not doesn’t indicate your presence. You could spend two hours going through the whole discussion, but if you say nothing (or don’t otherwise indicate that you have seen them), they won’t know that. And then it seems like you’re not around. You need to ‘be present’ in the same way you need to ‘pay attention’. It’s an action.

You can easily write one post, or create one quick video, responding to all the posts on a given subjects, highlighting themes, and correcting misconceptions. Less duplication for you, and it still shows students that you’re involved.


Record an introductory video for your course. Let students know who you are as a member of your field so that they can ‘hear your voice’ when you are writing them responses.

Optional Resources


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12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online Copyright © 2020 by Dave Cormier and Ashlyne O'Neil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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