Online Communities of Inquiry in Higher Education

Online Communities of Inquiry in Higher Education

Ann Donohoe (School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems,University College Dublin, Ireland), Tim McMahon (Centre for Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin, Ireland) and Geraldine O’Neill (Centre for Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-814-7.ch013
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The primary purpose of this chapter is to explore how online communities of inquiry can be developed to facilitate students to engage in reflective practice. The discussion begins with a critical review of the literature, examining the role of educational technology within higher education and the need to develop pedagogical frameworks for its use in practice. An overview of an action research study is presented that used communities of inquiry to facilitate registered nurses to critically reflect on clinical practice. The preliminary findings from focus group interviews indicate that learners viewed their participation in online communities of inquiry as a beneficial aid to reflection. The chapter concludes with recommendations for practice and for further research in the area of online communities of inquiry.
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There has been intense interest and speculation in the ways that technology can be used to support student learning in higher education (Issroff & Scanlon, 2002; Rogers, 2000). Universities are seeking to integrate technology into classroom teaching practice due to the widespread integration of the Internet into society (Issroff & Scanlon), the expanding capabilities of educational technology (Surry, Ensminger, & Haab, 2005), and ubiquitous personal computing and communication (McCredie, 2000). Although education has novel technological tools at its disposal, Salmon (2002) cautions that many of these applications are devoid of empirical, instructional, or pedagogical underpinnings to justify their employment. Therefore, it is imperative that educators develop educational theory and practice to guide the utilisation of technology within university teaching practice. In this regard, this chapter examines the role of educational technology within higher education, focusing specifically on how communities of inquiry can be developed within an online environment. The objectives of this chapter are

  • To explore the role of technology within higher education,

  • To examine what is meant by the term community of inquiry,

  • To consider how a community of inquiry can be developed within an e-learning environment,

  • To examine how a community of inquiry can be used to facilitate reflective practice within the context of nurse education.

In addition, this chapter demonstrates how online communities provide a valuable opportunity for educationalists to empirically examine how technology can be utilised in the development of teaching and learning interventions within higher education.


Educational Technology In Higher Education

“Let the main object of this, our didactic, be as follows: to seek and to find a method of instruction, by which teachers may teach less, but learners may learn more” (John Amos Cornelius, a 16th century scholar, as cited inLusty, 1969, p. 53).

Down through the ages, a variety of instructional methods have been proposed by educational luminaries, ranging from Socrates, Abelard, Aquinas, and Bell, to Dewey, Montessori, Lewin, and Skinner; however, the search for the perfect method of instruction remains an illusive quest (Lusty, 1969). This quest continues within contemporary higher education, where there is a growing recognition that traditional university teaching methods have served the interests of lecturers and educational institutions more than those of students (Milliken & Barnes, 2002). This disparity has resulted in ever-increasing calls for greater accountability and quality assurance within the realm of educational delivery (Pennington & O’Neill, 1994; Ruth, 1997). In response, several countries have established agencies to develop the teaching function of universities and to explore various mechanisms aimed at examining the scholarship of teaching in academia (Healey, 2003). Traditionally, efforts designed to improve learning in higher education have focused on teaching and the ways in which learning activities are organised. As the international debate develops, significance is being given to understanding the mechanisms by which students learn (Milliken & Barnes). While the process of facilitating effective student learning is multifaceted, educational technology is increasingly being recognised as an instrument that may enhance the teaching and learning transaction (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Laurillard, 1993; Salmon, 2000). Consequently, stakeholders who are interested in improving the quality of teaching in higher education are beginning to look toward new technology as a mechanism through which improvements can be realised.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Charles Juwah
Roisin Donnelly, Fiona McSweeney
Chapter 1
Sabine Little
This chapter has been composed as a piece of reflective practice, and as such traces and researches the development of a new technology-rich... Sample PDF
"Oily Rag" or "Winged Messenger": The Role of the Developer in Multiprofessional Teams
Chapter 2
Rhona Sharpe, Jillian Pawlyn
This chapter reports on an implementation of blended e-learning within three modules in the School of Health and Social Care at Oxford Brookes... Sample PDF
The Role of the Tutor in Blended E-Learning: Experiences from Interprofessional Education
Chapter 3
Diana Kelly
This chapter makes a case for the importance of preparing e-teachers by requiring them to have an experience as an e-learner. The chapter begins... Sample PDF
Modeling Best Practices in Web-Based Academic Development
Chapter 4
Tony Cunningham, Claire McDonnell, Barry McIntyre, Theresa McKenna
This chapter explores the insights gained by a group of teachers from their lived experience as e-learners participating in a blended module on... Sample PDF
A Reflection on Teachers' Experience as E-Learners
Chapter 5
Catherine Manathunga, Roisin Donnelly
Professional development for academic staff in higher education is receiving increasing attention. The focus has been on providing an opportunity... Sample PDF
Opening Online Academic Development Programmes to International Perspectives and Dialogue
Chapter 6
Louise Adele Jakobsen
This chapter, written from experience in implementing e-learning in further education through various roles, identifies key issues relating to... Sample PDF
Embedding E-Learning in Further Education
Chapter 7
Catherine Matheson, David Matheson
This chapter considers some of the major questions around access and accessibility, beginning with the most basic: just what is meant by access and... Sample PDF
Access and Accessibility in E-Learning
Chapter 8
Morag Munro, Barry McMullin
This chapter examines some of the tensions that may exist between e-learning and accessibility in higher education, and aims to redress the balance... Sample PDF
E-Learning for All? Maximizing the Impact of Multimedia Resources for Learners with Disabilities
Chapter 9
Ursula Wingate
This chapter proposes online preinduction courses as an innovative method for preparing students for learning in higher education. It is argued that... Sample PDF
Enhancing Students' Transition to University through Online Preinduction Courses
Chapter 10
Pankaj Kamthan
The discipline of software engineering has been gaining increasing significance in computer science and engineering education. In this chapter, the... Sample PDF
A Methodology for Integrating Information Technology in Software Engineering Education
Chapter 11
Gordon Joyes, Sheena Banks
The focus of this chapter is on the use of technology in the teaching and learning of research methods in masters’ and doctoral programmes in higher... Sample PDF
Using Technology in Research-Methods Teaching
Chapter 12
Richard Walker, Walter Baets
Blended learning occupies a prominent place within higher education teaching strategies, yet there is no clear definition for what we mean by this... Sample PDF
Instructional Design for Class-Based and Computer-Mediated Learning: Creating the Right Blend for Student-Centred Learning
Chapter 13
Ann Donohoe, Tim McMahon, Geraldine O’Neill
The primary purpose of this chapter is to explore how online communities of inquiry can be developed to facilitate students to engage in reflective... Sample PDF
Online Communities of Inquiry in Higher Education
Chapter 14
Nick Pratt
The aim of this chapter is to explore e-learning and e-teaching from a social perspective in order to show how the use of new technologies, like... Sample PDF
Using Multipoint Audio-Conferencing with Teaching Students: Balancing Technological Potential with Practical Challenges
Chapter 15
Timo Portimojärv, Pirjo Vuoskoski
This chapter will illustrate a combination of problem-based learning (PBL), information and communication technologies (ICT), and leadership in the... Sample PDF
The Alliance of Problem-Based Learning, Technology, and Leadership
Chapter 16
Steve Millard
This chapter sets out a number of ways in which effective use of the online discussion board in a virtual learning environment can contribute to the... Sample PDF
The Use of Online Role Play in Preparing for Assessment
Chapter 17
Simon Wilkinson, Heather Rai
This chapter focuses on the use of computers for online summative assessment, in particular for objectively marked items. The aim of this chapter is... Sample PDF
Mastering the Online Summative-Assessment Life Cycle
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