Establishing a Learning Presence: Cooperative Learning, Blended Learning, and Self-Directed Learning

Establishing a Learning Presence: Cooperative Learning, Blended Learning, and Self-Directed Learning

Chantelle Bosch (North-West University, South Africa) and Jessica Pool (North-West University, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5915-3.ch003

Abstract

Despite the overwhelming interest in the community of inquiry (CoI) framework, there is a lack of research regarding the role of students' self-directed learning (SDL) skills in a blended learning environment. This student self-regulation, therefore, serves as a basis for a new form of presence within the community of inquiry framework, described as “learning presence.” Although reports have been made on guidelines for the establishment of the initial presences in the community of inquiry framework, there is still a gap in the literature regarding the establishment of a learning presence. The purpose of this chapter is to report on what a learning presence is, and the authors propose a model as a guide to establish a learning presence. The findings of this qualitative study confirm that students can work self-directedly, and therefore, the combined blended learning design model can be used as a design tool to establish a learning presence.
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Background

The concept of blended learning (BL) is rooted in the idea that learning is a continuous process and not just a one-time event (Niemi, 2009). While BL is appealing to many because it enables one to take advantage of the “best of both worlds” (Gliner, Morgan, & Harmon, 2002) approach, BL environments could also mix the least effective elements of both face-to-face and technology-mediated worlds, if not designed well (Lindsay, 2004). One cannot simply transfer activities from traditional learning environments into a technology-mediated environment without taking the effect of technology on the course content into consideration (Ross, 2012). The BL model should be designed based on insights regarding the understanding of the character and the nature of the students, and the preparation of content.

The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework is a useful and well-known model for describing, explaining and improving online and blended education (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009). The CoI focuses on three presences – social, teaching and cognitive. Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities” (Garrison, 2009). Teaching presence is the design, facilitation and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realising personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). Cognitive presence, in turn, is the extent to which the learners or students are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Anderson et al., 2001).

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