So, it makes sense that an educational experience online is just as much about ‘presence’ as an educational experience “on-campus”. In fact, for educators, the online or digital component of a subject is also part of the campus.
When thinking about what we need to do online to create conditions for meaningful learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework can be a useful place to start. It’s not perfect, nor is it the only way to approach teaching online, but in a pinch, it will work.
These three presences form a nice Venn diagram to converge around online educational experience:
- Setting Curriculum
- Sharing personal meaning
- Focussing discussion
- Engagement with participants
- Risk-free expression
- Encouraging collaboration
- Exchanging information
- Applying new ideas
- Connecting ideas
- Teaching Presence crosses over with Social Presence in setting the climate of the educational space.
- Teaching also converges with Cognitive Presence by a teacher selecting content to go online.
- Thirdly, Social Presence crosses over with Cognitive Presence in supporting discourse online.
The framework involves collaborating to form understanding, reflection upon learning, and allowing for meaningful critical dialogue; this constitutes the educational experience.
Running a subject online for the first time is exciting and daunting, but also an extremely rewarding experience. Students often report higher satisfaction from fully online subjects when a meaningful community is created.
If you’re implementing CoI this session, consider using the following survey to gauge your students’ experience:
Finally, here’s a comprehensive list of teaching activities that support the CoI framework in Holly Fiock’s literature review:
Fiock, H. (2020). Designing a Community of Inquiry in online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 134-152.