Book by: Rosemary M. Lehman and Simone C.O. Conceicao
Review by: Julie Enciso
Advising and Transfer Services
Prince George’s Community College

The increased popularity of distance learning course options has created the need for faculty and staff in higher education to be proactive in examining, developing, and selecting appropriate educational technology and learning management systems to meet an institution’s instructional demands. The authors of Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching: How to “Be There” for Distance Learners, Rosemary M. Lehman and Simone C.O. Conceicao, add an essential resource to show how a strong sense of online presence contributes to greater student satisfaction and retention.

Students are attracted to online courses for the benefits and convenience available in this format. At times, students who opt for online courses are not familiar with the significant differences between learning in the classroom and learning exclusively online.  One major difference is that students are separated from the instructor and from other learners.  Given this dynamic, it is beneficial and crucial that instructors create a sense of being present or connected with students in the online teaching environment.  The challenges lie in ensuring that instructors follow policies and practices that meet departmental and institutional priorities as well as ensuring effective learning outcomes.

The authors’ research background and extensive experience are evident and demonstrated by suggested methods, illustrative case scenarios, activities, and best practices for creating, maintaining, and evaluating online presence from both the instructor and student perspective.  The first two chapters define and explain the role of presence in the online environment and introduce the Being There for the Online Learner Model.  The middle chapters focus on the content, information, and materials that will serve as useful tools for the online learner.  The reader is introduced to the hypothetical characters of a novice online learner and an inexperienced instructor in the online environment.  As the book progresses, the concept of presence is understood and realized by the learner and instructor as they connect with each other and with others on a psychological, emotional, and behavioral level during the online learning experience. The final chapters of the book include sample templates and learning guides with information on assessing the online learner’s active presence throughout the course.  Emphasis is also placed on evaluating teaching methods and strategies that empower the learner and promote a sense of community in the online environment.

Overall, this book is a comprehensive guide and essential resource for faculty involved in course development and content presentation for web-based courses.  The information is relevant and useful for advisors whether they’re involved in teaching online courses or counseling students considering distance-learning course offerings.  

Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching: How to “Be There” for Distance Learners (2010). Book by Rosemary M. Lehman and Simone C.O. Conceicao. Review by Julie Enciso, Wiley. (Jossey-Bass), 143 pp., $32.00, (Paperback), ISBN #978-0-470-56490-5

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