Online privacy may critically impact social presence in an online learning environment. This study examined how online privacy affects social presence in online learning environments and whether e-mail, bulletin board, and real-time discussion affect online privacy. Mixed methods were used to examine the relationship between social presence and privacy. The participants rated computer-mediated communication (CMC) with a high degree of social presence, but the quantitative correlation between social presence and privacy failed to reach significance. Participants shared personal information on CMC knowing that it was risky because the medium lacked security despite the perceived high levels of social presence. This contradictional phenomenon can be explained as “risk-taking” behavior. Among three CMC systems, e-mail was ranked as the most private and followed by one-to-one real-time discussion, then many-to-many real-time discussion. Bulletin board was considered to afford the least privacy.
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