Multiple studies have already concluded “no significant difference” between online and traditional (classroom) approaches to learning (Hiltz, Zhang, & Turoff, 2002; Johnson, Aragon, Shaik, & Palma-Rivas, 2000; McLaren, 2004; Vroeginday, 2005). Researchers are “[moving] beyond the question of whether the online approach to education is as effective as traditional learning, and are now delving into the realm of identifying which instructional strategies are most effective for an online learning environment,” (Baker, 2010, p. 2). For many institutions that use a learning management system, particularly in higher ed, that learning is facilitated directly by an instructor. When an instructor is involved directly in the learning process, that instructor is often critical to the learning “success,” and researchers have correlated instructor engagement and immediacy to increased student “success” (defined by either student satisfaction, higher average grade in the course, or both) in the course.

Much work has been done on perceived teacher immediacy as it relates to student performance. Communication immediacy was a concept proposed by Mehrabian (1971) referring to physical and verbal and non-verbal behaviors that reduce the (perceived) psychological and physical distance between individuals. Jensen (1999) noted that verbal immediacy is relevant for online instruction because the behaviors can be controlled. Established verbally immediate behaviors within online instruction include asking questions, initiating discussions, using inclusive personal pronouns, using self-disclosure, responding frequently to students, addressing students by name, repeating contact with students over time, offering praise, and communicating attentiveness (O’Sullivan, Hunt & Lippert, 2004). Visual cues in the online environment such as color, graphics, the instructor’s picture, enhance the perceived immediacy and signal expressiveness, accessibility, engagement, and politeness.

It is widely accepted that instructors teaching online must be seen for students to perceive them as present in the learning environment (Picciano, 2002). In order to establish online presence, instructors can “develop consistent patterns of interaction….provide feedback, [and] moderate discussions” (Baker, 2010, p. 6). The activities that instructors engage with in the learning management system are data points within the data tables. Determining where, when, what, and how long an instructor has spent in the LMS, the course, or the activity can be detailed with numerous reports and analytics that allow for identification of an overall picture of “instructor engagement.” Once this picture has been identified, multiple strategies can be implemented to either mirror (appreciative inquiry), or improve (creating instructor and/or courseroom interventions). These interventions improve the learning experience for the student, and ultimately correlate to improved student performance.

IntelliBoard provides the reporting and analytics to track the verbal immediacy behaviors associated to teacher and learner engagement. IntelliBoard’s suite of tools provide insights that promote teaching and learning success.


Visit Intelliboard at their stand at MoodleMoot US 2019 and find out how they can help your organisation made informed educational and business decisions using data visualisation, reporting and analytics.