Abstract: Online learning has become a reality for many students in higher education. Unfortunately, something that has also become a reality is a sense of isolation in online courses, and Moore (1980) has warned that students' sense of distance can threaten their ability to learn. The community of inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) has provided insight into ways that online interactions can improve students' and instructors' social presence and learning. Emerging video technologies may be able to improve these interactions and thus more easily support the development of communities of inquiry. In this study we interviewed students in three distinct courses using different video-based instructional strategies. A large majority of students indicated feeling that the video-based communication made their instructors seem more real, present, and familiar, and that these relationships were similar to face-to-face instruction. Video communication impacted students' social presence in similar ways, although to a lesser degree than they believed it impacted instructor social presence. We conclude with discussion for future research and practice.
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