E-Learning and Digital Media
ISSN 2042-7530

Other issues available | Journal home page | Publisher home page

Volume 11 Number 1 2014


CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]


Inquiry into ‘Communities of Inquiry’:
knowledge, communication, presence, community

Ana Remesal & Norm Friesen. Introduction. Inquiry into ‘communities of inquiry’: knowledge, communication, presence, community, pages 1‑4 OPEN ACCESS http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/elea.2014.11.1.1 VIEW FULL TEXT

Karel Kreijns, Frederik Van Acker, Marjan Vermeulen & Hans van Buuren. Community of Inquiry: social presence revisited, pages 5‑18

Patrick R. Lowenthal & Joanna C. Dunlap. Problems Measuring Social Presence in a Community of Inquiry, pages 19‑30

Bas Giesbers, Bart Rienties, Dirk T. Tempelaar & Wim Gijselaers. Why Increased Social Presence through Web Videoconferencing Does Not Automatically Lead to Improved Learning, pages 31‑45

Petrea Redmond. Reflection as an Indicator of Cognitive Presence, pages 46‑58

Swapna Kumar & Albert D. Ritzhaupt. Adapting the Community of Inquiry survey for an Online Graduate Program: implications for online programs, pages 59‑71

Manoli Pifarré, Alex Guijosa & Esther Argelagós. Using a Blog to Create and Support a Community of Inquiry in Secondary Education, pages 72‑87

Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Elaine Khoo & Bronwen Cowie. Networked Environments that Create Hybrid Spaces for Learning Science, pages 88‑104

Community of Inquiry: social presence revisited



Social presence is a construct that has attracted the attention of many educational scholars involved in online collaborative learning settings wherein all the dialogue is happening through text-based asynchronous and synchronous communication channels. The social presence of the learning group members is associated with the degree of participation and social interaction amongst them and, as such, is therefore considered a critical variable for learning. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework defines social presence as the ability to project one’s personal identity in the online community so that she or he is perceived as a ‘real’ person and/or as progressing through the phases (1) acquiring a social identity, (2) having purposeful communication, and (3) building relationships. However, the CoI social presence construct and its operationalization still leave many issues open. In this article, the original social presence construct is disentangled, concluding that it actually represents two constructs, namely (1) ‘social presence’ (degree of ‘realness’ of the other in the communication), and (2) ‘social space’ (degree to which social interpersonal relationships are salient). It is identified that social presence in the CoI model is actually integrating both constructs but with an emphasis on social space. Extending the CoI framework by making a distinction between social presence and social space is beneficial to the CoI model, because attention to its design and implementation can now be more precise. In addition, as social presence and social space are both progressive and developmental in nature, it fits the underlying philosophy of the CoI framework that embraces this dynamic characteristic.


Problems Measuring Social Presence in a Community of Inquiry



To improve Community of Inquiry research, a group of researchers created the Community of Inquiry Questionnaire (CoIQ). While the development of the CoIQ is a step in the right direction, this instrument does not align as well as it could with previous research on each of the individual ‘presences’ (i.e., cognitive presence, teaching presence, social presence) that make up the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. For instance, the questions in the CoIQ focused on measuring social presence do not align as well as they could with the previous indicators of social presence. This article outlines the misalignment encountered when using the CoIQ and highlights ways in which future research on communities of inquiry could be improved.


Why Increased Social Presence through Web Videoconferencing Does Not Automatically Lead to Improved Learning



The Community of Inquiry (CoI) model provides a well-researched theoretical framework to understand how learners and teachers interact and learn together in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Most CoI research focuses on asynchronous learning. However, with the arrival of easy-to-use synchronous communication tools the relevance of the CoI model needs verification for these new environments. Synchronous communication is (assumed to be) superior in establishing discourse due to the ability to express immediate feedback, intonation, body language, and thus the affordance to increase social presence. In a quasi-experimental design, this research analysed whether increased social presence led to (perceived) improved learning satisfaction and an increased pass rate. That is, the learning experiences of 147 students using discussion forums (2005‑2007) and 256 students using both discussion forums and web-videoconferencing (2008‑2011) over seven consecutive summers were compared using the self-developed Students Evaluation of Online Remedial Education Experience questionnaire. Results indicate that students in the web-videoconference design were not more satisfied about their learning experiences, except for the clarity of goals and tasks. Furthermore, in the four years of using the web-videoconference design, a lower pass rate was found compared to the discussion forum-only designs in the years before. Although web-videoconferencing provides an experience that seems more conducive to social presence, more research is needed into how to effectively use synchronous communication in e-learning.


Reflection as an Indicator of Cognitive Presence



In the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, cognitive presence indicators can be used to evaluate the quality of inquiry in a discussion forum. Engagement in critical thinking and deep knowledge can occur through reflective processes. When learners move through the four phases of cognitive presence (triggering, exploration, integration, resolution), the processes of discussion and reflection are important in developing deep understanding. In this article, data from the online discussion archives within a blended teacher-education course are analysed using the cognitive presence indicators from the CoI with the additional indicator of reflection. This study indicates that when instructors structure online discussions appropriately, learners are able to share and document their thinking and reflect on their contributions and the perspectives of others while developing new or deeper knowledge. To facilitate the coding of reflective activities and online posts the researcher proposes modifying the resolution phase of the original cognitive presence coding protocol to include an additional reflection indicator.


Adapting the Community of Inquiry Survey for an Online Graduate Program: implications for online programs



A cohort-based online professional doctorate program that consisted of both online coursework and research activities was designed using Garrison et al’s community of inquiry (CoI) framework. The evaluation of the program proved a challenge because all existing CoI assessment methods in the past have dealt with online courses, not with online programs. In the absence of a validated instrument for measuring the success of the community of inquiry design at a program level, the CoI survey for online courses was adapted and used with the second cohort of online students (n = 18). This article presents (a) an extension of the construct’s cognitive, teaching, and social presence for online programs, and (b) an instrument to measure student perceptions of a CoI that encompasses asynchronous and synchronous interactions, as well as course-specific and non-course-specific interactions in different learning spaces.


Using a Blog to Create and Support a Community of Inquiry in Secondary Education



Understanding how blogs can support collaborative learning is a vital concern for researchers and teachers. This article explores how blogs may be used to support secondary education students’ collaborative interaction and how such an interaction process can promote the creation of a Community of Inquiry to enhance critical thinking and meaningful learning. A science case-based project in which 15 secondary students participated was designed, implemented and evaluated. Students worked on the science blogging project for four months. Students were asked to be collaboratively engaged in purposeful critical discourse and reflection in their blogs in order to collectively solve science challenges and construct meaning about topics related to astronomy and space sciences. Through student comments posted in the blog, the findings showed that the blog environment afforded the construction of a Community of Inquiry and therefore the creation of an effective online collaborative learning community. In student blog comments, the three presences for collaborative learning took place: cognitive, social, and teaching presence. Moreover, this research found a positive correlation among the three presences – cognitive, social and teaching – of the Community of Inquiry model with the level of learning obtained by the students. This article discusses a series of issues that instructors should consider when blogs are incorporated into teaching and learning. It is claimed that embedded scaffolds to help students to argue and reason their comments in the blog are required to foster blog-supported collaborative learning.


Networked Environments that Create Hybrid Spaces for Learning Science



Networked learning environments that embed the essence of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework utilise pedagogies that encourage dialogic practices. This can be of significance for classroom teaching across all curriculum areas. In science education, networked environments are thought to support student investigations of scientific problems, including the collection and processing of data, and construction of explanations and conclusions. Student engagement that involves thinking about and questioning key scientific processes and ideas is argued to address the challenges of making school science more relevant. In this article, examples from two studies are presented where New Zealand teachers employed networked technologies, including Moodle (a learning management system) and Wallwisher (an online notice board). These examples illustrate how face-to-face classroom teaching practices can be complemented with online learning practices. The CoI framework was used to examine how the social, cognitive and teaching dimensions of online student communities were similar and yet distinct to the face-to-face communities they belonged to. Findings showed that the CoI framework helped to unpack how networked environments created hybrid spaces where classroom interaction possibilities were extended, and new layers of knowledge construction added in support of students’ growing authority and accountability for their learning.


PO Box 204, Didcot, Oxford OX11 9ZQ, United Kingdom