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Article

Abstract

This article examines social presence in virtual asynchronous learning communities among foreign language teachers. We present the findings of two studies investigating cross-institutional asynchronous forums created to engage participants in online dialogues regarding their foreign language teacher preparation experiences in and out of the classroom. Both studies took place during Fall 2003 and were conducted between first-time teacher/graduate students in four methodology courses at three large state universities. In the first study, students participated in weekly online exchanges in the form of dialogue journals for reflective teaching. In the second study, students were provided with specific topics to address using a discussion board, related both to theoretical language learning issues as well as pedagogical classroom-related concerns. The data analyzed here consist of the contributions and responses submitted by all participants on their respective online forums. We analyze these data qualitatively using Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, and Archer’s (2001) framework in order to gain a better understanding of the element of social presence—specifically affective, interactive, and cohesive indicators as they occur during asynchronous online discussion. This study marks an important contribution to the literature as it examines how virtual discussion takes shape, how the notion of social presence is defined in these foreign language teacher communities, as well as the implications for language teacher education in computer-mediated communication.

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