Connected, but present? The role of ‘presence’ for building learner communities

Ute Walker

While Web 2.0 technology has afforded new opportunities for language teaching and learning, its adoption during  the current pandemic became a vital emergency measure which has provided a platform for developing good practice via long-term planning and pedagogical design. The ability to build virtual communities of learners who actively engage in virtual space remains one of the key challenges for experienced online teachers or learners and newcomers alike. What constitutes a learner community online? How do teachers know what to look for in order to support its development? This presentation discusses the notion of online presence and the critical role of social presence in particular in the development of a sense of connectedness and belonging in the online language classroom, its potential for supporting collaborative learning and the implications for both teachers and learners. Data from a bilingual German/English telecollaborative exchange will highlight the discursive construction of social presence as precondition for participation and collaboration in an online discourse community.