Community of Inquiry??

After muddling through the article by Garrison, Archer and Anderson, I could not help but feel a bit frustrated by all of the “educationese” that was being thrown at me.  I was really feeling pretty simple minded and I really just wanted to find some nice clear definitions of the terms cognitive, social and teaching presence. There was one clear statement in the article that really stood out for me… “The main finding over the last decade with regard to teaching presence is the growing evidence as to the importance of this element. Teaching presence is seen as a significant determinant of student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community” (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007, p. 163).”  Yes! Finally something I could understand and agree with!

While the article was a challenge to get through, the COI website was a very enjoyable experience.  The website does a very nice job explaining the COI theory.  I especially enjoyed exploring the Interactive Model.  The video presentation by Dr. Mark Kassel on Teaching Presence is excellent.  He clearly describes the methods he employs to establish his presence and spell out his expectations for his online students.   I particularly enjoyed his ideas about posting announcements and emails and even being redundant to get the students attention.  In fact his video inspired me to stop what I was doing and post an announcement to my chemistry students on Schoology!  I liked Dr. Kassel’s down to earth approach about communicating with the students as if you are with them in the classroom.  He also had some great ideas about creativity and creating a balance between autonomy and teacher assistance.  His simple 10 min presentation gave me the feeling that I really could develop a successful teaching presence online and left me excited at the prospect.  I think it will be these simple communications with students that can decrease the transactional distance.

So now this diagram was beginning to make some sense!


I moved onto Cognitive Presence. How can students show their understanding when they are not present in the classroom?   It was clear from watching this video that getting students to show their understanding when they are not present in the classroom is going to be a challenge.   It is challenging enough to get them to do this when we are with them in the classroom.  For me it was nice to see a science teacher trying to deal with this issue. The use of simulations and virtual labs are all exciting ideas that I can relate to and use in developing my own module.  The presenter had some great ideas on how to get students to show higher levels of thinking online.  It was evident that the online assignments will need to be carefully selected and developed for rigor.

I enjoy the process of designing lessons that I present in class and I can see that designing my online lessons will be just as exciting. I know that Schoology can give me a great platform to start building my module, but I am going to need to find other ways to increase the interactions between teacher and student and between students.  I need to delve more into the Social Presence as this is a more difficult concept for me to grasp.

In reading one of the discussion forums on the COI website,  I came across the following statement “Oftentimes, online instructors rush the course creation process by focusing more on the course content than creating a sense of human presence in the virtual online community of learners. Simply placing content on a website and expecting students to learn without guided facilitation of reflective practice activities is not the most effective way to invoke critical thinking skills in students.” I believe this is a very powerful statement and I can see how I could easily get caught up in the excitement of building the content and putting in all of the “bells and whistles” at the expense of the Social Presence.


6 thoughts on “Community of Inquiry??”

  1. I have to agree with you, the article was a little much to handle. I was glad when I finally able to the COI website. I am wondering if I should have started with the COI website and gone from there. I think it will be a big challenge trying to show us how well they understand the material being covered with them when they are not in the classroom. I believe the videos from the website will be a great help to come up with ideas on how we can keep track of them. Schoology is new to me and I am enjoying it greatly. How do you think the lessons will turn out on it? Do you think it will be easy to communicate with student through the system? I think I am as excited as you to get into making the module and seeing how it comes out.

    1. I have used Schoology for the past two year and My Big Campus and Moodle before that. I think Schoology works great for organizing learning material as links and embedded material. I am not sure how well it works for discussions. I use it for online assignments and short answer questions. But it is not as fluid as other formats. Maybe others have used Schoology for discussions and can give me some input.

  2. I had a difficult time with the article as well. I was reading it while sitting at my oldest son’s soccer practice and the other parents were making fun of my “concentration faces” while trying to get through all of the terminology. At one point I even got so off track I couldn’t remember what COI even stood for!
    I got hung up on Cognitive Presence as well and how students would show that in classes like math and science especially. My project will be a little different than that of a classroom teacher in large part b/c there will not be any grades associated with it and my students will be participating on a volunteer basis, which changes the dynamic a bit since it is not a required class. I think I am going to have a hybrid situation where the students meet with me the majority of the time since their online presence will be encouraged, but I can’t require it.

    1. I think I had that same “concentration face” at home… as my husband kept asking what was wrong 🙂 I can see how your lesson would differ from the classroom teacher, but maybe that will allow you more freedom to experiment with different online techniques.

  3. I don’t know if I am just having “a moment”, but I cannot find the video presentation by Dr. Mark Kassel on Teaching Presence that you referred to in your post. Can you share that link with me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.