Sunday, April 17, 2011

31. Communities of Inquiry

Development of a Community of Inquiry in Online and Blended Learning Contexts
Zehra Akyol, D. Randy Garrison, M. Yasar Ozden
January 2009
Science Direct
World Conference on Educational Sciences 2009
Available online at

A paper about a small study conducted on two courses offered online and as a blended delivery, gives us a few insights on the idea of creating communities of inquiry.

  • We learn about the key research and model on communities of inquiry (CoI) developed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer.
  • CoIs are comprised of both learners and instructors. In the framework we find these agents work around three overlapping elements: social, cognitive and teaching presence.
  • Social presence deals wit the ability of the community members to identify with that community, interact and communicate effectively. (three elements of social presence are affective expression, open communication and group cohesion).
  • Cognitive presence is the ability of the community members to manipulate and work with information in the collaboration tasks within the community. This is not just understanding of knowledge and content, but the ability to use that knowledge and build new knowledge in the social environments of the CoI.
  • Teaching presence is the ability through design to facilitate interactions of social and cognitive presence. Teaching and not teacher - because this role can be applied to a variety of individuals participating in the experience.
  • When put in comparison the two courses showed a few differences.
    • social presence showed higher levels of affective expression in the online course and higher levels of group cohesion in the blended course. This speaks to the ideas already encountered in our article reviews that learners may find it easier to express themselves in online environments but group formation and group identity may be more difficult in online spaces.
    • cognitive presence seemed to be overall higher in online environments. This speaks mainly to the reflective opportunities in online environments.
    • teaching presence seemed to show in similar ways in both environments.
The study was relatively small to allow us for any greater generalizations. However findings lead us to support patterns and ideas already emerging in similar studies.

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