D. Randy Garrison
June 1, 2018

For those interested in the theoretical aspects of the CoI framework let me draw your attention to an inventory and assessment of proposed CoI revisions provided by Kozan and Caskurlu (2018). They review articles that argue for either including new dimensions of existing presences or adding distinctly new presences. Before examining this article let me say that it moves the discussion forward with regard to a previous editorial that I posted October 20, 2017 titled Other Presences. At that time I argued that when considering refinements and revisions particular attention needs to be given to addressing issues of congruence with assumptions and values of the framework (integrity) and the long standing principle of scientific parsimony (simplicity) of the framework.

Kozan and Caskurlu first identify studies that suggest significant revisions to the CoI framework. Furthermore, they make a clear distinction between two types of suggested CoI revisions - (1) those that essentially argue to refine an existing presence with additional dimensions; and (2) those that argue for new presences in addition to the original three presences. Using this classification the identified studies were coded in terms of their specific contributions and insights. What interested me the most was the discussion after the description of each study's suggested revisions. The authors looked at the “theoretical counter-arguments against the proposed new presence types or dimensions” (p. 113). In this regard they suggested that revisions need to consider the theoretical underpinnings of the CoI framework and need evidence where suggestions are significantly different to the existing framework and thereby constitute “separate and meaningful contributions” (p. 113).

Kozan and Caskurlu provide a broad map and possible directions for future theoretical research with regard to refining and possibly expanding the framework. In this regard, however, I would argue the greater potential is to focus on refining the presences with the possibility of expanding dimensions while preserving the relative simplicity of the existing framework. Expanding the number of presences must be approached with considerable caution as it will inevitably undermine the simplicity of the tripartite framework. I strongly believe that expanding the number of presences will inevitably create unmanageable complexity and confusion. In addition to refining the specific presences, another approach is to explore the intersection of the existing presences. An example of this is the work we have done with the shared metacognition construct that defines the intersection between cognitive and teaching presence (Garrison & Akyol, 2015a, 2015b). This approach refines the framework while maintaining its integrity by building on the premise of the inseparability of personal and shared experiences and explaining the dynamic of thinking and learning collaboratively.

In this regard, I believe that most of the suggested revisions identified by Kozan and Caskurlu do not recognize the core premise embedded in each presence with regard to both the individual and shared experiences of a collaborative learning experience. It is when attempts to separate responsibilities of teacher and learner (participants are both teacher and learner in a truly collaborative learning experience) that the integrity of the framework is violated. This fusion of teaching and learning is not easy to get one's mind around but is central to Dewey's philosophy.


Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2015). Toward the development of a metacognition construct for the community of inquiry framework. (Developing a shared metacognition construct and instrument: Conceptualizing and assessing metacognition in a community of inquiry.) Internet and Higher Education, 24, 66-71.

Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2015). Corrigendum to ‘Toward the development of a metacognition construct for communities of inquiry.’ The Internet and Higher Education, 26, 56.

Kozan, K., & Caskurlu, S. (2018). On the Nth presence for the Community of Inquiry framework. Computers & Education, 122, 104-118.



D. Randy Garrison
Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary
D. Randy Garrison is professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.Dr. Garrison has published extensively on teaching and learning in adult, higher and distance education contexts. He has authored, co-authored or edited twelve books and well over 100 refereed articles/chapters.His recent books are Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry (2016) and E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition) (2017), and he recently won the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Division of Distance Learning Book Award (2nd place), 2017.



Design Principles
D. Randy Garrison
January 4, 2019
At the core of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework is critical discourse in the service of inquiry. The CoI framework identifies three overlapping elements (social, cognitive and teaching presence) that create the conditions for open communication ...

MOOCs and the Community of Inquiry
D. Randy Garrison
December 5, 2018
Structured massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide cost-effective access to high quality course materials. This approach to online learning, however, exhibits an inherent limitation in that they are implicitly large enrollment courses with ...

Shared Metacognition
D. Randy Garrison
October 23, 2018
If I had to pick an area of research with the greatest potential for understanding thinking and learning in a collaborative setting it would have to be shared metacognition . The primary reason for this is that deep and meaningful learning (ie, ...

Validity of CoI
D. Randy Garrison
September 29, 2018
Students have frequently asked me for references that validate the CoI framework and associated survey instrument. My first response was to share the data that I had discussed in the third edition of E-Learning in the 21st Century ; but this ...

Learning Analytics and the CoI framework
D. Randy Garrison
September 3, 2018
Advances in learning analytics focused on understanding and shaping the learning environment would seem to have a natural fit with regard to text based online learning transactions? In this regard, Terry Anderson (2017) has suggested that analytics can ...
The Community of Inquiry is a project of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, researchers of the Community of Inquiry framework, and members of the CoI community.