Teaching Presence

Topic Progress:

Historical Development

Please read Assessing Teaching Presence in a Computer Conferencing Context1, the original article outlining the characteristics of teaching presence.

Current Thinking on Teaching Presence

Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes.2

Teaching presence includes those activities, which may be completed by learners or by teachers, or even those outside of the community in the case of learning designers or administrators, which integrate the effects of cognitive and social presence to promote learning.

Garrison3 notes that teaching presence is related to the roles or functions of the instructor in directing cognitive and social presence in a CoI. These functions are intended to integrate cognitive and social presence in such a way that the effects of each are multiplied.

Teaching presence is initially expressed in activities related to designing learning activities, then during the course as the instructor facilitates discussion and directs students in their work and interactions.

Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison4(p. 17), identify seven principles to guide the processes of creating and sustaining communities of inquiry.

  1. Plan for the creation of open communication and trust.
  2. Plan for critical reflection.
  3. Establish community and cohesion.
  4. Establish inquiry dynamics (purposeful inquiry).
  5. Sustain respect and responsibility.
  6. Sustain inquiry that moves to resolution.
  7. Ensure assessment is congruent with intended processes and outcomes.

The first two principles are related to the design of the learning environment to encourage social and cognitive processes, the second two are related to the facilitation of the activities and the final three refer to the social, cognitive, and assessment tasks of the instructor in directing students towards attaining the learning outcomes.


  1. Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of the Asynchronous Learning Network 5: 1-17.
  2. https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/description-teaching-presence/
  3. Garrison, D. R. (2011) E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. United Kingdom: Routledge.
  4. Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: AU Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120229