I like to use the introductions as a way to contribute to learning. One way I could do this while also enhancing social presence in Crim 4121 (Crime & Media) would be to have students add 3 “Truth Statements” to their personal introduction that is already built into the course, i.e. three things they know or believe to be true about crime- and justice-related topics.
See section on Truth Statements in this paper (p. 8-9):
This would promote social presence by offering a starting point from which all learners come into the course with some baggage about crime and justice topics, whether they have ever taken a criminology course or not. It would also serve as fuel for student-self interactions as seen in lesson 1 of this course (the student interacts with their own ideas). Obviously, a big piece in Crime and Media is to pick apart the ideas that come from media and how media constructs a particular perspective about crime and justice that may or may not be closely tied to the “realities” of crime and justice.
It would also promote social presence by giving students something to react to in the introductory posts. “Truth statements” about crime and justice offer more potential for response and interaction than “My name is ___, I live in ___, my hobbies are ___”.