Last week, I was thrilled by our deep dive discussion on the concept of collaborative learning and having a learning community that would bring more benefits for the learners and leads to a more fruitful outcome in the long run. This week, continuing the same trend, we investigate how to create and maintain the community learning while moving towards a more blended learning fashion.

It was quite a puzzle at the beginning to define blended learning, especially when we wanted to refer to the current situation under Pandemic. In the normal scenario, blended learning is defined as the mixture of two “face-to-face” and “online” learning modes or as described in [1], it is defined as “the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches”. However, considering the current situation, we changed the focus a little bit and considered it as the synchronous and asynchronous online learning modes, where the synchronous part can be seen as a substitute for the face-to-face mode.

Then it will become more challenging to create and maintain a vivid community of learning for the students that have no opportunity to meet in person at all. It has been discussed in the literature that how vital it is to strengthen the integrating of face-to-face synchronous communication and text-based online asynchronous communication for higher education and the concept of community of inquiry (CoI) [2]. The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework is unique in framing the discussion of the practical implications of blended learning in higher education. CoI framework helps with coming up with a strategy to build and develop the concept of blended learning for higher education where students are supposed to share their personal reflections and shared discourses and assist each other in drawing inferences from what has been said. 

To this regard, we came up with a list of questions on how to deal with the difficulties of setting up a community learning by supporting the community feeling as if the students can experience the same way as they are sitting on the campus. We also mentioned that it is critical to building confidence in the students, such that they feel they can successfully achieve the goals without being too overwhelmed. Getting feedback and reflection from the students is also considered to be essential. However, the downside of putting too much effort from educators is another important aspect that should not be left out. What if you do not get the “rewards” you would expect to receive as an educator?  And finally, designing the course content and engaging the students throughout the online sessions must be wisely planned. Together with my amazing groupmates, we created a podcast that covers these questions. 


[1] Garrison, D. Randy, and Norman D. Vaughan. Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

[2] Vaughan, Norman D., Martha Cleveland-Innes, and D. Randy Garrison. Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press, 2013.

Online Blended Learning Community