In exploring the effectiveness of using Discord as an educational teaching tool, our team also investigated on how to create a deep and meaningful learning environment using Community of Inquiry (CoI). A framework that includes Teaching, Social, and Cognitive presence, developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (1999).
Learning Experience and Approach to Critical Inquiry
Our approach to our critical inquiry began with each team member selecting an element of CoI to specialize in and examine in detail. We found a significant body of research articles supporting CoI and a few with dissenting arguments. Having said that, there were fewer blog posts and articles about using Discord for educational purposes. However, we found several new YouTube videos of educators using Discord as a teaching tool as well as facilitating an online class in 2020 and 2021. Despite some success finding examples of Discord’s use for education, we were unable to find an active learning event in which our team could participate. Instead, we have settled on a conference paper by Konstantinou and Epps (2017) describing their use of Discord in a first-year electrical engineering course. Used in conjunction with a video on using Discord for distance learning/group work (Geoinformatics, 2020), we are able to review not only Discord’s use, but also data regarding outcomes and student experiences. We are currently researching arguments for and against using social media for education to present a more critical review.
Background Reading and Lessons Learned
For our background reading, we began by exploring CoI in great detail. The foundational structure of CoI includes cognitive, teaching, and social presence. According to Anderson et al. (1999), cognitive presence is a vital element of critical thinking and deep, meaningful learning. It is a process to create a sense of puzzlement for the learners, exchange information, allowing them to connect with the ideas, and then apply the new ideas. Additionally, when the objective is higher-order cognitive learning, text-based communication is preferred. Next, as described by Garrison et al. (2000), teaching presence consists of two main functions: educational design and the facilitation of discourse. It is the role of the educator in a COI to design and build the environment in which discourse can take place, and then also moderate and encourage positive and effective communications leading to practical inquiry. Finally, Garrison (2009) described social presence within a CoI as being required to identify with, develop relationships within, and purposefully communicate with a particular community. Interestingly, group identification within the community, rather than strong personal bonds between individuals, appears to be of more importance in ensuring a cohesive and collaborative group. With that in mind, instructors should purposefully create productive, efficient, and meaningful discussions with students. Interaction should go beyond the traditional question-and-answer structure, but use strategies of problem-based, project-based, and debate prompts to help increase the interaction to higher levels pertaining to the three presences (deNoyelles et al., 2014).
Questions to Pursue
Overall, as we investigate and examine each element of CoI in detail and gaining greater knowledge of how Discord can be utilized as a digital teaching tool to facilitate casual interactions and create a deep and meaningful learning community. Our team is now ready to outline our approach to conducting a critical inquiry into CoI and Discord. We invite you to comment and let us know which of the five challenges for Discord you resonate with.
Anderson, T., Archer, W., & Garrison, D. R. (1999). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2), 87–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6
deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., & Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1). https://cursa.ihmc.us/rid=1NZWZ5NTY-LVP3GY-27B1/deNoyelles et al_2014_Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous.pdf
Konstantinou, G., & Epps, J. (2017). Facilitating online casual interactions and creating a community of learning in a first-year electrical engineering course. 2017 IEEE 6th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 128–133. https://doi.org/10.1109/TALE.2017.8252317
Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of Inquiry in Online Learning. In Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition (pp. 352–355). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch052
Garrison, 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), 87–105. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6
Geoinformatics. (2020, March 25). Using Discord for distance learning/group work. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwCZuqY4IDo