Online education research has long employed the concept of social presence to study interactions in technologically mediated spaces. Yet, a precise definition of social presence does not exist.
Murat Oztok has recently published an article in the journal Distance Education that traces how the concept of social presence has been developed and appropriated in the online and distance education literature. The manuscript does not simply focus on the historical trajectory of the concept but discusses how social presence is utilized to address the growing complexities of social interactions in parallel to the increasing affordances of new technologies. The aim was to illustrate that social presence is over extended and widely stretched to correspond with the possibilities of socialization and that it has long lost its depth and breadth, and thus, its analytical strength.
The article argues that we should focus more on the relative salience of interpersonal relationships if we are to understand the relational aspects of being online.