Exploring perceptions of social presence among researching professionals

Waterhouse, Philippa; Dennis, Carol Azumah and Álvarez, Inma In: Golam, Jamil and Morley, Dawn eds. Agile Learning Environments. London: Palgrave Macmillan, (In press).


The Open University (OU) offers Professional Doctorates (PD) in Education and Health and Social Care. Since our students study remotely, except for annual residential weekends when they meet face-to-face, the programme team expected little disruptions from the implementation of social distancing measures enforced in educational settings due to COVID-19. In this case study of the PD programme at the OU managing the pandemic we focus on the impact of social distancing restrictions preventing PD researchers from meeting face-to-face. We examine the ways the Programme Leaders reconfigured the PD programme to develop opportunities for social presence. We focussed on the cohort who started their doctorate in October 2020, amidst the pandemic. Using an online questionnaire and focus group discussion we explored their perceptions of social presence.

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