In this topic we have been observing community of inquiry as the baseline principle towards design for online and blended learning. At the basis of the community of inquiry is the Venn diagram of Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence intersecting together in Educational Experience.

Like many other models, in my opinion community of inquiry needs to be extended with the negative aspects of the Educational Experience. Since forming the above mentioned presences is straightforward in the ideal setting but it is not accomplishable in settings where opposing factors are present in the teaching process.

As factors that can oppose creation of online learning communities we can enumerate a number of events and causes, but they can be in general divided into the following categories based on how they influence students’ learning experience:

  • Time reducing factors: a number of events can happen that can reduce the amount of time student can dedicate per week to participation in the course. This ranges from not being able to keep up with the offline parts of the course to missing out on the online events.
  • Disagreement: as groups of students are commonly formed in online learning environments, disagreement within the group can cause emotional distancing of students from the participation in online events and a general loss of interest in the course.
  • Knowledge gap: in in-person settings it is significantly easier to call for help from a colleague to bridge some specific knowledge gap. In online learning environments, bridging such a knowledge could require asking a colleague for an extra online meeting which could be significantly more difficult to arrange.

In general, specially in online learning experiences, it is important for students to correctly estimate and allocate their time to participate the course. Students often underestimate the amount of time an online course would require or when it would require that time. This is an issue that the course design can help with by constructing larger portions of the course as group-work instead of relying on offline work to keep up with the course.

Alternatively, a more advanced booking system could be also utilized where students would be able to book their own, individual, working time in the online environment in which they will study. By allocating specific study and work times to students one could make sure that they stay on track and monitor their progress more realistically. Such booking system could be also utilized to resolve the knowledge gap.

Blended Learning