Role Adjustment for Learners in an Online Community of Inquiry: Identifying the Challenges of Incoming Online Learners

Role Adjustment for Learners in an Online Community of Inquiry: Identifying the Challenges of Incoming Online Learners

Martha Cleveland-Innes (Athabasca University, Canada), Randy Garrison (University of Calgary, Canada) and Ellen Kinsel (Odyssey Learning Systems, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/jwltt.2007010101
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Abstract

This study outlines the process of adjustment learners experience when first participating in an online environment. Findings from a pilot study of adjustment to online learning environments validate differences found in three presences in an online community of inquiry. Using pre- and post-questionnaires, students enrolled in entry-level courses in two graduate degree programs at Athabasca University, Canada, describe their adjustment to online learning. Responses were analyzed in relation to the elements of cognitive, social, and teaching presence, defined by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) as core dimensions of student role requirements in an online community of inquiry. In each of these presences, five areas of adjustment characterize the move toward competence in online learning: interaction, self-identity, instructor role, course design, and technology. Student comments provide understanding of the experience of first time online learners, including the challenges, interventions, and resolutions that present themselves as unique incidents. Recommendations for the support and facilitation of adjustment are made.

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