When dealing with people, remember you are not
dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. -Dale

Online courses and blended learning come with their
own challenges. However, reaching out and connecting with participants seems to
be a major bottle neck.

The community of
inquiry is a promising methodology for the fusion of critical and cognitive
processing essential for higher order learning (Garrison 2013). However, in
essence now it is being recognized that emotion should be an integral part of
the community of inquiry.

As one of our group mates kept saying, “Emotions
act both as a barrier and as a facilitator to learning.”  The concept of emotional presence was
surprising. It was something that has always been there but never really

I correlated with our own group work. Although our
group worked very well and came up with excellent ideas and outputs, would we
have worked better if we had started by establishing an emotional presence?  We spent a lot of time focused on the tasks at
hand…would it have been better to reflect and communicate more on other aspects.
Time it seems can always be blamed.

In my own course, there is very little room for collaborative
learning. In order to move on to online and blended learning, Ineed to provide
support, facilitation and scaffolding. In essence I agree with the five stage
model proposed by Gilly Salmon (Salmon 2013), that for online learning to be
successful participants need to be supported through a structured developmental

The challenge is to cater this to the individual. In
online courses, individual learners may be lost in the vast plethora of
knowledge and may find it difficult to motivate themselves continuously. An
online course that can be universally appealing as well as which focuses on
individual learning needs is required.Online courses can be daunting, and hence
proper structure and scaffolding may make it easier for the learner to
assimilate and participate.

Whatever the course, the learner must feel accepted
and valued and must have avenues to participate and contribute. Ironic as it
seems, collaborative learning may be the key to individual learning and
emotions play a major part in this blending of collective and individual
efforts in an online environment


Vaughan, N.
D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended
learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry.
Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “The Community of Inquiry Conceptual framework”.

Salmon, G
(2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage]

Blended Learning environments and Community of Inquiry