Transitioning to the Online Environment – Teaching Presence

Teaching presence is the “design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes” (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). Simply explained, teaching presence includes designing and developing the course, and then guiding and supporting the learners during the course delivery.

Tips for developing teaching presence:

  • Set clear expectations for students.
  • Be visibly present in the course every weekday if possible, or be substantively present at least four days a week.
  • Coach learners to keep pace with their learning and think deeply about what they know and why they know it.
  • Answer questions regarding activities and assignments.
  • Encourage and acknowledge student contributions.
  • Use announcements to ensure that students are aware of responsibilities, due dates, and other activities.
  • Communicate via email or phone to privately provide gentle but firm guidance as needed.
  • Inject knowledge from diverse sources.
  • Diagnose misperceptions, confirm understandings, and summarize discussions.

Teaching presence is manifested in everything the instructor does to guide, support, and shape the learners’ experiences.


Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7–23.