Community of Inquiry in e-learning

To view my infographic and embedded video, click here: CoI infographic  

In my work as a Learning Designer, I design e-learning curriculum for external clients. The administration and facilitation of the e-learning is actually done by the client’s Learning and Development personnel. As a result, for the purposes of this blog post, I am outlining how I would utilize the community of inquiry (CoI) model if I were the facilitator.

I will begin with a definition of what the CoI is. It is”…a group of people who come together, have a discussion, reflect on those discussions, and then come up with some kind of new understanding, or new meaning, based on the critical discourse and the reflection that happens” (Lalonde, 2020, 1:20). In conjunction with this definition, for reference, the CoI model is comprised of three, distinct categories, which are: social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence. In this post, I will use this definition, along with a brief exploration of facilitation strategies, that I believe will effectively engage learners in online communities in each of the three categories.

“Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people’” (“The community inquiry”, n.d.). To enable learners to do this, I would encourage them to model my behaviour by posting an introductory video and a profile at the onset of the course. Additionally, learners would be prompted to participate in online forum discussions throughout the course (Anderson, 2017).

I would develop cognitive presence by posing questions and inviting discussion/feedback from the learners and encouraging them to resolve and apply what they learn in the context of their roles. In so doing, the dynamic of critical thinking that is a crucial component of cognitive presence is demonstrated by the learner (Anderson, 2017).

The role of facilitator in the category of teaching presence is characterized by “…appropriate amounts of interjections through direct instruction, so as to maximize development of cognitive presence without reducing opportunities for knowledge construction by students” (Anderson, 2017, para. 17). Thereby, empowering an authentic collaboration between learners and the facilitator.

Ultimately, creating a CoI based course involves the integration of all three categories, which allows for an organic exploration of the course materials by inviting the learners to co-create their learning experience.


Anderson, T. (2017). How communities of inquiry drive teaching and learning in the digital age. [Blog post]. Retrieved from link

Lalonde, C. (2020, August 22). Facilitation in a community of inquiry. [Video file]. Retrieved from

The community of inquiry. (n.d). Retrieved from

2 Replies to “Community of Inquiry in e-learning”

  1. Hi Sue,
    I really enjoyed this suggestion: “I would develop cognitive presence by posing questions and inviting discussion/feedback from the learners and encouraging them to resolve and apply what they learn in the context of their roles”; specifically your encouragement to find resolution and then apply their proposal. This leads to deeper levels of discussion, and placing it within the context of the individual students’ environment is very helpful in taking the conversation into a analysis level which might prompt further findings and meanings for the student.

  2. Hi Earl,
    I’m glad you related to my suggestion. I don’t get to facilitate much at the moment, but I always absolutely enjoy the involvement of participants in their learning experience. The more engaged they are, the MORE I learn too!
    Who knew I was developing cognitive presence?!
    Thank you for your thoughts.


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