Professional and continuing education (PaCE) programs offered through public higher-education institutions address current workforce needs through a variety of educational offerings and delivery modalities (The California State University, n.d.). Program developers, instructional designers and instructors strive to create programs for PaCE contexts targeted toward the educational needs of professionals looking to skill-up or advance their career. However, a demand for online learning in the PaCE setting still needs to consider how a community of learning can best be designed and facilitated to promote collaborative and social learning. Dissatisfaction with learning can result when learners feel disconnected from one another in an online learning environment given a lack of social presence (van Tryon & Bishop, 2009), and this dissatisfaction can result in increased course attrition. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) could lend itself well to re-imagining PaCE online courses by cultivating meaningful learning experiences through the facilitation of its three interrelated elements.
Social, cognitive and teaching presence are the three interdependent elements that make up the CoI (Garrison et al., 2000) with facilitation of the three presences critical to its effectiveness (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013). Social presence consists of the social and emotional interactions necessary to support cognitive presence which enables learners to form meaning through reflection and discourse (deNoyelles et al., 2014). As a PaCE instructor for online or blended learning environments, strategies to strengthen not only the social presence for the facilitator, but also the learners require cultivating an open and personable environment in which interactions can occur. As learners within the online community begin to develop trust, feel safe and engage with one another, facilitating academic interactions through critical discourse and reflection so learners construct meaning shift “the community from social presence to cognitive presence” (Vaughan et al., 2013, p. 54). Teaching presence, not to be confused with a teacher presence, is the design and facilitation of the environment (Vaughan et al., 2013), can be a shared responsibility within the community (deNoyelles et al., 2014), and serves as the thread through which all three presences connect (Anderson, 2017; deNoyelles, Zydney, & Chen, 2014).
The CoI offers a viable pathway to guide PaCE educators in developing collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities particularly suited to an online or blended learning environment. Strategies such as those outlined in this infographic could prove useful for instructional designers and experienced instructors to facilitate the CoI presences.
To view a larger version of this infographic (in which the fonts appear correctly), please click on this link
Anderson, T. (2017). How Communities of Inquiry Drive Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Contact North.
deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., & Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 153-165.
Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in action. Open Praxis, 10(1), 79–89.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
Khoo, E. G., & Bonk, C. J. (2014). Chapter 1: Introducing TEK-VARIETY (PDF) (pg 7-12). Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online (PDF). Open World Books.
The California State University (n.d.). Professional and continuing education (PaCE). Retrieved from https://www2.calstate.edu/attend/professional-and-continuing-education
van Tryon, P. J. S., & Bishop, M. J. (2009). Theoretical foundations for enhancing social connectedness in online learning environments. Distance Education, 30(3), 291-315.
Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press. Chapter 3: Facilitation (pp. 45-61).