A key aspect of online learning is the provision of a learning climate conducive to meaningful discussions where learners can negotiate and validate their ideas in a risk-free environment. The Community of Inquiry framework “identifies the elements that are crucial prerequisites for a successful higher educational experience” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000:87).
What is the Community of Inquiry framework?
The Community of Inquiry framework is used for modelling online learning based on a socioconstructivist and collaborative approach where the community of learners promotes meaningful inquiry. There are three components to a community of inquiry: the teaching presence, the cognitive presence and the social presence.
The teaching presence refers to the design, facilitation and direction (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer, 2001) of the cognitive and social processes. The design is based on the teacher’s decisions regarding the curriculum and learning activities. The facilitation is based on the assistance in shaping a constructive discourse. The direction involves guidance towards problem resolution.
The cognitive presence refers to the collective construction of meaning through reflection among learners. Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2001) identify the four phases of cognitive presence: a triggering event (sense of puzzlement), exploration (sharing information and ideas), integration (connecting ideas) and resolution (synthesizing and applying new ideas). They associate participant interaction to the first two phases and identify the need for “enhanced teaching presence to probe and diagnose ideas so that learners will move to higher level thinking in developing their ideas” (Arbaugh, Bangert & Clevelland-Innes, 2010).
The social presence refers to the emotional and social connection among learners. Akyol, Garrison and Ozden (2009) define the three categories of social presence: affective expression, open communication, and group cohesion. Affective expression is based on the expression of emotion and self-projection. “Affective responses are the expression of emotions, humor, and self-disclosure, which support interpersonal relationships” (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer, 2001). Open and purposeful communication is fostered by the learning climate. It is based on recognition, encouragement of reflective participation, and interaction. Finally, cohesion is based on group identity and collaboration among learners.
In an upcoming post, we’ll explore the Community of Inquiry measurement tool.