Online Synchronous Activities to Promote Community of Inquiry in Two Nursing Courses

Online Synchronous Activities to Promote Community of Inquiry in Two Nursing Courses

Jennifer Roye (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA) and Denise M. Cauble (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9161-1.ch007
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This chapter presents specific teaching strategies to enhance the learner experience in two online nursing courses through the use of synchronous learning activities. Online instruction often leaves the learner feeling disconnected and void of a sense of community. The community of inquiry (CoI) theory will be discussed, offering methods to increase the sense of community in the online learner. Specific exemplars will include the use of online synchronous case-based learning using pre-designed case studies and the inclusion of peer learning activities performed within a video conferencing platform.
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A challenge in online courses is the lack of community that may be experienced by the online learner. Online learners miss out on the opportunity to make connections with their fellow learners. Often, these learners feel isolated or disconnected from the institution providing the instruction. Learners receiving a greater amount of social presence and group interactive activities were more likely to report a higher quality of learning and persist in online courses. Additionally, online learners who participated in group activities were more motivated and prepared for assignments (MacNeill, Telner, & Sparaggis-Agaliotis, 2014). Gazza and Hunker (2014) identified several online learning best practices including: 1) relationship building and maintaining a social presence between learner, faculty and staff, 2) designing activities to appeal to a variety of learning styles; and 3) clear and frequent learner feedback. Learners value faculty-peer interaction in the online classroom and identify teacher behaviors and practices necessary to enhance learning: communication, visibility, and delivery of quality course content (Young, 2006). Learner-centered teaching is a way to achieve these behaviors through active learning activities. Active learning encourages interactive, hands-on application of content, important in the development of critical thinking skills and transference of knowledge to real world situations. Teacher responsiveness through prompt feedback as well as exhibiting caring behaviors throughout the online course experience are also essential faculty competencies. Additionally, faculty’s technological competence and use of multimedia technologies associated with best practices must be supported (Bigatel, Ragan, Kennan, May, & Redmond, 2012). However, the proliferation of available digital technologies for online learners may give the false impression that faculty is present at anytime of the day or night (Seckman, 2018). Response times, realistic or not, can lead to frustration for both the learner and faculty.

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