The online ‘presence’ of academics, with its range of connotations, has been a talking point in our institution, particularly as reliance on remote delivery has increased. Academics are seeking new ways of being ‘present’ and effective facilitators of learning in online spaces. The sudden shift to online teaching has led to a reimagining of both teachers’ and learners’ presence, in order to create sustainable learning environments. Teachers confident in face-to-face delivery need to reframe their professional ‘personae’ when working online. Questions of student ‘presence’ – their visibility, engagement and interaction are similarly under constant review, with some staff equating ‘cameras on’ with engagement.
We are academic developers curious about modes of online presence. We have been considering how ‘presence’ can be developed and used consciously by teachers as they co-construct a community of learning with their students across the ‘void’ in online provision. We explore some of the anxieties and uncertainties, which arise as we try to ‘be ourselves’ online. We aim to share and discuss some of our observations about how to achieve authenticity in the virtual pedagogic world, from both teacher and student perspectives. We would like to share our observations on this process and some of the professional conversations we have had with our colleagues, as we think ahead to our next steps.