The Community of Inquiry Framework, Blended Learning, and the i2Flex Classroom Model

The Community of Inquiry Framework, Blended Learning, and the i2Flex Classroom Model

Karen Swan (University of Illinois Springfield, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0267-8.ch002
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The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework was developed by researchers interested in exploring learning in online discussions who grounded their thinking in social constructivist notions of inquiry-based teaching and learning. The i2Flex approach is similarly grounded in social constructivism and inquiry, thus it makes sense to explore the CoI framework with the hope of informing i2Flex models. The purpose of this chapter is to do so. The chapter summarizes the way the CoI framework is conceptualized as developing from the interaction of three presences, and reviews research on the effects of each presence on teaching and learning. The development and validation of a CoI survey and some of the research it has enabled is also discussed. In particular, the chapter examines a course redesign project that significantly improved learning outcomes in four online courses which seems ideally suited the ongoing development of i2Flex classes. The chapter concludes with an examination of two other frameworks for structuring blended learning that might be applicable to i2Flex classes.
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The Community Of Inquiry Framework

The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000; 2001) is a social-constructivist representation of the processes that support the development of a community and learning in online and blended classes and programs. The CoI framework has been widely used to inform research and practice in online learning, and an increasing body of research supports its efficacy for describing and informing online learning (Arbaugh, Cleveland-Innes, Diaz, Garrison, Ice, Richardson, & Swan, 2008; Swan, Garrison, & Richardson, 2009).

Building from the notion of social presence in online discussion (Gunawardena, 1995), the CoI framework represents the online learning experience as a function of the relationship between three presences: social, cognitive, and teaching. The concept of “presence” here is in some sense functional and purposively applied to indicate that the presences are not attached to actors but can be assumed by any of the participants or even the materials in an online or blended course. The CoI framework suggests that online learning is located at the intersection of these three presences; that is, all three presences are necessary for learning in an educational context to take place (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The community of inquiry framework

(Adapted from Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001)

In the three sections which follow, the role of each of the presences in the CoI framework is described, relevant research findings summarized, and the practical implications of the latter explored.

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