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Communicative Presence and Online Learning Communities: An Evidence-based Model

, University of Calgary , Canada

University of Calgary . Awarded


The phenomenon of online “being” challenges individuals to present an image of self to others via electronic discourse. The impact of online interaction for interpreting identity from communicative presence is growing in importance, as new communication technologies emerge and become a routine part of our daily lives. This mixed methods study explores the language-based concept of communicative presence within online asynchronous learning communities for the purpose of building an evidence-based model. The study uses social network analysis (SNA) to examine how patterns of social interaction and the relative strength of participants’ interconnections shape the social structure of the community. Next, phasal analysis (Gregory, 2002a; Malcolm, 2010), a new method for conducting research investigating communications within online communities is used to understand how language use in text-based context of situation is interpreted, acted on, and realized in response within online communities. Evidence to support the model is contributed by twenty-two participants from four professional development online courses. Data sources for triangulation include an e-survey, online interviews with the course participants, and discussion forum postings collected from the course management system of the hosting institution. Evidence generated from data analysis, informed by conceptual elements identified in the empirical literature, identify and inform the elements and processes of communicative presence and its evolution.

Communicative presence is the realization of the online persona. Through engagement with others within an online learning community, individuals use language to nuance communicative presence via digital identity, sociocultural sensitivity, digital literacy, and communicative e-strategies. In turn, community members judge, value, and position an individual in relation to others by interpreting the epistemic views and the social, cultural, and linguistic capital that define a member’s social identity. The strength of the relational ties among members are informed by the recognition and status ascribed by the community. The mutual interpretation of identity by the community and by the individual in communicative interaction forms communicative presence.

The contribution of this study is the generation of an evidence-based model of communicative presence that can be applied to future research investigating communication within online learning communities.


Chambers, W.L. Communicative Presence and Online Learning Communities: An Evidence-based Model. Ph.D. thesis, University of Calgary. Retrieved October 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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