Doctoral Dissertation — Social Presence in the Asynchronous Online Classroom: The Online Video Conversation.


In May 2012, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation, thus completing all requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree in Technical Communication and Rhetoric from Texas Tech University. In general, my dissertation research deals with the way we can communicate online through the use of asynchronous video. Specifically, I looked at the application of this communication method in the asynchronous online classroom regarding the ways in which students and instructors communicate with and sense each other, how interacting in this manner compares to face-to-face communication (benefits, limitations, etc.), whether it might be more or less useful in certain types of classes, and whether it offers any instructional advantage.


Advances in digital communication technologies greatly affect online education at the college level. One such example is the use of asynchronous video in the online classroom, which when used to create threaded, ongoing conversations between students and instructors, presents a unique communication method and educational tool. Unfortunately, most research on the use of asynchronous video as an educational tool has been on using it to refer students to consume and analyze recorded videos or to create project videos. Little research has been done on the use of asynchronous video as a communication tool, thus creating a lack of research on the use and impact of this communication method.

In this dissertation, I address this research gap by exploring the application of the asynchronous online video conversation (AOVC) in the asynchronous online classroom (AOC) to determine its effect on the participant-perceived social presence level in this setting, since social presence can be seen to provide certain benefits in communication. Specifically, I examine the use of the AOVC over two semesters (Fall 2009 and Spring 2010) of General Principles of Multimedia Writing, a junior-level online writing course offered through Arizona State University’s Multimedia Writing and Technical Communication program.

The result is an analysis of participant perspectives and a video content analysis to determine how participants feel about their use of this method and what sort of communication actually occurs. In the end, I argue that something significant is altered in the transfer from the F2F classroom to the AOC and that the AOVC can simulate some of the  communication exchanges that occur in the F2F classroom, while not providing realtime feedback. Additionally, I  contend that the AOVC provides benefits over F2F communication in its ability to be recorded, archived, and  retrieved, which could be valuable in educational contexts.