The aim of this paper was to establish the concept of social presence and to point out its implications for Distance Education. Social presence is a term originated from Psychology, and refers to the individual’s perception about the way he or she feels when interacting with others using computer-mediated technology. We present studies that discuss the challenges of promoting collaborative learning and interaction in virtual environments; moreover, we analyze the role of technology and the learners’ behavior in this process. Our findings indicate that studying the level of social presence in virtual learning environments (VLE) is crucial for understanding the interaction between learners, as well as for promoting collaborative learning in Distance Education.
distance education; virtual learning environment; social presence; interaction; collaborative learning