Friday, March 23, 2012

Social and emotional intelligence and social media- How important is presence?

Social media has become a fact of life for many. More and more, the business and education sectors are mandating the use of online tools. Email has been a standard mode of communication and new forms of social media are rapidly expanding digital communications. A persistent concern respecting the use of web based applications is the perceived lack of social and emotional cues that are evident in face-to-face communications. Communications using digital media covers a broad spectrum from telephone, email, VOIP, microblogging, weblogs, wikis, webinar applications, and multiuser virtual environments.

What is the connection between emotional intelligence and online communication? Hanson, Grange, and Prosser (2010)studied the emotional intelligence of people in the context of their use of social media.
The results also suggest those individuals who pay attention to their own and others emotional states are less likely to have online messages misinterpreted, are less likely to experience stress in the workplace and are more confident in their ability to communicate effectively. Furthermore the study suggests individuals who believe they have a more balanced approach to problem solving (incorporating some consideration of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others in the decision-making process) and who use emotions for the successful engagement of others, will be more consistent in effectively communicating online than those that are less likely to incorporate emotion in the decision making process.

Dabbagh,(2007) has articulated some of the characteristics of successful online learners.
The emerging online learner can be described as someone who has a strong academic self-concept; is competent in the use of online learning technologies, particularly communication and collaborative technologies;
understands, values, and engages in social interaction and collaborative learning;
possesses strong interpersonal and communication skills; and is self-directed.

Many of the personal characteristics are indicative of persons with high levels of social and emotional intelligence.

In the field of online education the sense of presence has been of interest. Moore (1997) proposed a theory of transactional distance that mapped the various levels of presence available between teachers and students and between students. The theory of transactional distance has been most operationalized in efforts to reduce the distance in online communication for the purpose of teaching and learning. Gatin,(2009) proposed that people are not so much interested in narrowing the distance they feel in online learning as they are interested in controlling their distance from others using online learning as one of a array of strategies.

The effect of the sense of presence in online virtual environments has interested educational theorists (McBrien, Cheng, & Jones 2009; Warburton, 2009; Dreher, Reiners, Dreher & Dreher, 2009). How does the use of an avatar effect the sense of presence?

Real worlds and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly interconnected (Davis, Murphy, Owens, Khazanchi, &Zigurs, 2009). For example, the growth of the virtual economy has accelerated rapidly. More and more goods are being developed produced and purchased without any exchange of a tangible product. People are living more and more in virtual or digitally enhanced environments.

What special forms of social and emotional intelligence are used in virtual environments? How are social skills evolving? Can education prepare people to cope and thrive in an increasingly digital reality, the metaverse?


Dabbagh, N. (2007). The online learner: Characteristics and pedagogical implications. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education, 7(3), 217–226.

Davis, A., Murphy, J., Owens, D., Khazanchi, D., & Zigurs, I. (2009). Avatars, people and virtual worlds: Foundations for research in metaverses. Journal of the Association of Information Systems, 10(2), 90–117. Retrieved from

Dreher, C., Reiners, T., Dreher, N., & Dreher, H. (2009). Virtual worlds as a context suited for information systems education: Discussion of pedagogical experience and curriculum design with reference to Second Life. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 211–224. Retrieved from

Gatin, G. (2009). Keeping your distance: A basic social process (Dissertation). Fielding Graduate University.

Hansen, K., Grange, L., & Prosser, C. (2010). An investigation of emotional intelligence and the use of online social media tools in organizations. Swingurn University of Technology.

Moore, M. (1997). Theory of Transactional Distance. Theoretical Principles of Distance Education (pp. 22–38). Routledge. Retrieved from

Hansen, K., Grange, L., & Prosser, C. (2010). An investigation of emotional intelligence and the use of online social media tools in organizations. Swinburn University of Technology.

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