Community of Inquiry Research Today: An Overview

Community of Inquiry Research Today: An Overview

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5161-4.ch001


The Community of Inquiry framework provides a three-fold and multi-faceted way to consider effectiveness within an online, digital, and/or blended course setting. A broader understanding of online learning as social and interactive (e.g., Anderson & Elloumi, 2004) provides a theoretical grounding to understand the CoI framework for both course design as well as research. This chapter also describes key ideas that will be discussed in later chapters, including an overview of the Community of Inquiry framework, an overview of big data, learning analytics, predictive analytics, computational linguistics, social network analysis, and other conceptual ideas that foster analysis of online learners in large course settings or across programs. The authors offer a current understanding of the overall extant literature on the CoI framework as it relates to the key ideas since its conception around the year 2000. Additional readings are provided.
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Defining The Community Of Inquiry Framework: A Historical Lens

In this section we briefly describe further the nature of the Community of Inquiry from work as well as some of the seminal studies that to find it. The website The Community of Inquiry: is a crucial “go to” online resource that provides an overview of the entire model. It includes a multi-authored blog, publications, books, a link to social media such as a Twitter feed, and discussion forums. It is well worth exploring.

Online Learning as Social and Collaborative

We identify a key concept about the collaborative nature of online learning. Although online learners can seek out information on their own, Anderson and colleagues point out the social and collaborative nature of online learning and the crucial aspects of social interaction within these online learning communities. They suggest:

Learners can of course interact directly with content that they find in multiple formats, and especially on the Web; however, many choose to have their learning sequenced, directed, and evaluated with the assistance of a teacher. This interaction can take place within a community of inquiry, using a variety of Net-based synchronous and asynchronous activities (video, audio, computer conferencing, chats, or virtual world interaction). These environments are particularly rich, and allow for the learning of social skills, the collaborative learning of content, and the development of personal relationships among participants. However, the community binds learners in time, forcing regular sessions or at least group-paced learning. Community models are also, generally, more expensive, as they suffer from an inability to scale to large numbers of learners. (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000, p. 40-41)

As noted in the excerpt above, scaling up a community-based model can be tricky and costly. We would add that it also take times and expertise to be able to gauge to what degree the community of learners is functioning, as course sizes scale up. Future chapters in this text suggest ways that aspects of the CoI framework such as social presence and cognitive presence in larger courses can be planned and evaluated using big data tools and techniques.

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