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Community is not something that forms automatically. It takes effort, planning, and attention. This infographic provides strategies to create community in digital environments. An important part of learning is inquiring. According to Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, and Vaughan (2013), “the premise of the [the Community of Inquiry] (CoI) framework is that higher education is both a collaborative and an individually constructivist learning experience” (p. 10). CoI builds on the presences of social, cognitive, and teaching elements, creating a “collaborative constructivist educational experience” (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 11).
While there is a connection between the presences, it is important to focus on each independently. By combining these elements, the classroom facilitation will work for the instructor and students, creating a strong CoI.
Students need interactions in the classroom to allow for the best possible learning (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 48). By utilizing the strategies in the infographic, a facilitator can create a social environment. As students feel they are contributing members of the classroom, they begin to form a community (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 49). As the facilitator, the students will look to you to see the conduct expected of them to create a social presence.
Each student learns differently. As a result, facilitators need to implement a variety of tools. According to Richardson, Caskurlu, Ashby (2020), “facilitation is helping your students reach their goals by encouraging them to participate, suggesting ideas or strategies for them to consider” (para. 2). The strategies in the above graphic should help engage most learner types. Online facilitation does not lend itself well to sage on the stage content delivery. The cognitive presence in the CoI will be stronger if the students have a role in the delivery of content.
Teaching presence combines social and cognitive presences in the facilitation of the course (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 46). This presence is more about the facilitator than the students, but it affects them and their learning. Delivering the content the same way every year will not create the strong presence for a CoI. The strategies outlined above can help to keep the delivery lively. As the facilitator, it is important to keep the position of the learner in mind while delivering the course; these strategies can help do that.
These strategies are only a few of the many available to guide facilitation in online classrooms. The conversation surrounding approaches is infinite since there are always going to be innovations worth adding to the puzzle. Thoughts and ideas are welcome in the comments area below.
Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus.
Richardson, J., Caskurlu, S., & Ashby, I. (2018). Facilitating your online discussions (PDF), Purdue Repository for Online Teaching and Learning.
Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press.