Multimedia, Social Presence and Community

in Online Learning: A Review of the Literature


Aura Lippincott


(Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA)


Abstract: Sense of community and perceptions of social presence in online learning environments are among the important factors that play a role in online student success and satisfaction. Of growing interest to online learning researchers and practitioners is the efficacy of using multimedia tools and media-rich instructional techniques to positively impact sense of community and perception of social presence in the online classroom. Furthermore, as online learning environments become increasingly media enabled, the inherent social barriers of computermediated learning environments may be breaking down. This paper delves first into the education literature exploring the theoretical frameworks and concepts that inform this area of inquiry, including Social Presence Theory, and community in computer mediated communication environments.  The second half of the paper explores the question of efficacy through a survey of studies on specific multimedia-based techniques for community building and social presence.

Key words: online learning; e-learning; social presence; sense of community; community building; multimedia techniques; online student outcomes

CLC numbersG434

Document codeA

Article ID1007-2179(2011)05-0062-05

The Authors: Aura Lippincott is a graduate student in the educational technology online master’s degree program at San Diego State University, and Assistant Director for Educational & User Support Services at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management