Date of Award

Fall 10-10-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Instructional Technology


Instructional Technology

Committee Chair

Dr. Julie Moore

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Jenn Wells

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jabari Cain


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand teachers’ rationale and practices as they establish a social presence in a 100% online learning environment in a high school setting, with a specific emphasis on paralinguistic cues and symbols, such as emoji, emoticons, and Bitmoji. This case study focused on the meaning and understanding of teacher social presence in the virtual setting, utilizing a variety of data collection methods. In-depth interviews were conducted, followed by digital document collection and a focus group interview; transcripts of both interviews and the focus group were analyzed in order to establish the specific practices teachers use to establish a social presence as well as their rationales. Specific emphasis was placed on paralinguistic cues and their role in the establishment of social presence. Findings supported previous research on social presence strategies with few exceptions. Online educators rely on strategies that humanize their virtual interactions with special consideration for tone in written communication, particularly considering the age of high school students. Paralinguistic cues were widely used, with Bitmojis used universally by all participants as a visual extension of their physical selves in computer-mediated communication. Suggestions for future research, practice, and teacher education are included.