FACULTY DEVELOPMENT AND THE COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY

The focus ofthis short post is to highlight the essential role of faculty development and therole of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework in supporting faculty movingto online and blended learning. It has become apparent during the COVIDpandemic that the success of online learning is strongly dependent uponapproach and preparation. This point was made recently by O’Ceallaigh (2022)when he argued that “designing, navigating and nurturing purposeful andengaging virtual learning spaces for students” (p. 1) positively impacts onlinelearning. Moreover, to achieve positive outcomes moving to online learning theremust be clarity to pedagogical approach that provides rationale and commitment.This is where the CoI framework has become the theoretical foundation of choicein conceptualizing and guiding faculty through the intricacies of designing anddelivering online and blended learning. The effectiveness of the CoI framework tostructure and guide faculty in re-designing their courses was demonstrated earlyin its development (Vaughan & Garrison, 2006).

The evidence hascontinued to grow that the CoI framework is a viable conceptual guidance in designing and delivering online and blended learning. This is evident in studies that haverecommended the use of the CoI framework as the theoretical foundation for understandingteaching presence and improving the online teaching process (Arsenijevic,Belousova, Tushnova, Grosseck & Živkov, 2020; O’Ceallaigh, 2022; Singh,Evans & Reed, 2021; Singh, Singh & Matthees, 2022). In this regard, ithas been stated:

“The Communityof Inquiry framework and technology enabled tools can help in creating optimalonline learning experiences for students. By building social, cognitive andteaching presence, instructors can facilitate critical thinking, criticalinquiry among students and meaningful discourse among students and faculty”(Singh, Singh, & Matthees, 2022, p. 15).

 

Some researchhas focused specifically on teaching presence to influence learning performance.In this regard, Yin and Yuan (2022) state that “Teachers should fully considerthe characteristics of online and offline learning to conduct teachingorganization, design, conversation facilitation and direct teaching guidance,so that students can perceive sufficient teaching presence” (Conclusion). Moreover,Akbulut, et al. (2022) reported that the findings of their study “suggest thatcourse instructors should prioritize planning activities to ensure TP [teachingpresence] when designing online courses in times of emergency or under similarconditions” (p.14). In a study exploring blended learning interactions andexperiences as seen through the elements of the Community of Inquiry (CoI)framework, Villanueva (2021) found strong teaching presence. Consistent withthe previously noted studies, Villanueva (2021) argued that this justified “theCoI as a practical framework to understand and guide teaching and learning inK-12 blended learning programs” (p. 31).

Finally, from aninstitutional perspective, it is essential that faculty support be accompaniedby incentives to invest enormous amounts of time in redesigning their courses(Garrison, 2017). This required investment reflects the challenge in adoptingnew approaches and technologies. Faculty support is also needed to understandand cope with complex software and how best to employ it effectively to improvethe online learning experience. To manage the challenges of shifting to ononline learning environment, I reiterate that faculty support must include acoherent and understandable approach to learning online. Importantly, theevidence is growing that the Community of Inquiry framework is an effectiveconceptualization and tool to ensure sustained collaborative andtransformational approaches to online learning.

The bottom line is that I believe the core challenge of online learning is establishing community (Guo, et al., 2022; Moschovis, et al., 2022; Yoon & Leem, 2021). For this reason the CoI framework is invaluable in preparing faculty and students for online learning and to curate a collaborative learning environment.



REFERENCES

Akbulut, M. S., Umutlu, D., Diler, O. N. E. R., & Arikan, S. (2022).Exploring university students’ learning experiences in the COVID-19 semesterthrough the Community of Inquiry framework. Turkish Online Journal ofDistance Education, 23(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.17718/tojde.1050334

Arsenijevic, J., Belousova, A., Tushnova, Y., Grosseck, G., &Živkov, A. M. (2020). The Quality of Online Higher Education Teaching Duringthe Covid-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Cognitive Research inScience, Engineering & Education (IJCRSEE). 10(1), 47-55. DOI:10.23947/2334-8496-2022-10-1-47-55

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: ACommunity of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd edition).London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Guo, Q., Zeng, Q. and Zhang, L. (2022). What social factorsinfluence learners' continuous intention in online learning? A social presenceperspective. Information Technology and People,https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/10.1108/ITP-02-2021-0151

Moschovis, P.P., Dinesh, A., Boguraev, A-S., &  Nelson, B. D. (2022). Remote online globalhealth education among U.S. medical students during COVID-19 and beyond. BMCMedical Education, 22, 353. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-022-03434-3

O’Ceallaigh, T. J. (2022). Designing, navigating and nurturing virtual learning spaces:Teacher educators’ professional development priorities and potential pathways. Teachingand Teacher Education, 115, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2022.103697

Singh, J., Evans, E., & Reed, A.(2021). Online, Hybrid, and Face-to-Face LearningThrough the Eyes of Faculty, Students, Administrators, and Instructional Designers:Lessons Learned and Directions for the Post-Vaccine and Post-Pandemic/COVID-19World, Journal of Educational Technology Systems, https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/10.1177/00472395211063754

Singh, J., Singh, L., & Matthees, B. (2022). EstablishingSocial, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence in Online Learning—A Panacea inCOVID-19 Pandemic, Post Vaccine and Post Pandemic Times. Journal ofEducational Technology Systems, 1-18. DOI: 10.1177/00472395221095169. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00472395221095169

Vaughan, N., & Garrison, D. R. (2006). How blended learning cansupport a faculty development community of inquiry. Journal of AsynchronousLearning Networks, 10(4), 139-152.

Villanueva, J. A. R. (2021). Teaching Presence in K-12 BlendedLearning Classes under the Alternative Delivery Mode. International Journalon Open and Distance e-Learning, 7(1), 31-52.

Yin, B., & Yuan, C-H. (2022). Blended learning performanceinfluence mechanism based on community of inquiry. Asia Pacific Journal ofEducation, 1-16. https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/10.1080/02188791.2022.2061912

Yoon, P., & Leem, J. (2021). The Influence of Social Presence inOnline Classes Using Virtual Conferencing: Relationships between GroupCohesion, Group Efficacy, and Academic Performance. Sustainability,13(4), 1-19.




CONTRIBUTE A RESPONDING EDITORIAL


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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); for which he won second place for the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Division of Distance Learning Book Award, 2017.


RECENT EDITORIALS

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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.