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Researchers have been investigating social presence in online learning for decades. However, despite this continued research, questions remain about the nature and development of social presence. The purpose of this mixed method exploratory case study was to investigate how social presence is established in online discussion forums in an asynchronous online course. The results suggest that social presence is more complicated than previously thought. In particular, situational variable such as group size, instructional task, and previous relationships influence how social presence is established and maintained in online courses. In the following paper, we report the results of our inquiry and the implications for further research and practice.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, in Distance Education on Nov 2020, available online at doi: