The view from my desk – Jyväskylä, Finland

It is not an easy job to provide a place for learners in online classes. For task 4, we reflected upon Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, a framework that describes three presences, namely Social, Cognitive and Teaching for online learning spaces. CoI aims to promote efficient online learning environments where students and instructors orient to place-making through the three dimensions.  In other words, when the three presences coincide, it becomes a good starting point for engaging and motivating students as well as making learning relevant in the digital world.

One of the best features of this framework is that the responsibility rests on the students and instructors alike. While there are certain expectations from the instructors (i.e. setting clear goals and communicating them to the students), students are to engage in the pedagogical activities through purposeful reflection. In this sense, CoI brings a high level of understanding of course content, thereby giving a space to learners for a meaningful learning experience. One false expectation in online classes is that students will regulate their own learning. Another strength of this framework thus is that by showing intersections between these three presences, it tells us that we can’t expect too much from the students without offering proper guidance. The model demonstrates that online education needs to be fostered through a variety of skills both on the part of the students and instructors. For instance, as an instructor putting a discussion board as a class activity won’t work magically for the students to open up and share their experiences and ideas. That is, engagement and collaboration do not happen easily. As an instructor, one has to be clear and purposeful with learning outcomes and show up and facilitate the class. By relying on a clear course structure along with strategies to build a community, instructors could give specific guidelines to manage difficulties when they arise. And as a student, one needs to be aware of new modes of communication and collaboration and thus take on the responsibility for becoming familiar with members of the learning community. In brief, this framework requires a role adaptation in both instructors and students.

Considering the artifact we worked on as a group (identifying the three presences in a schedule of an online workshop on “hate crime” at the Norwegian Police University College), I aim to take a more intentional role in designing, organizing, facilitating, and directing the inquiry process in my future online classes. As such, I can make better changes related to the degree of collaborative strategies incorporated into my online courses, which can also be achieved by CoI, offering a helpful guide in designing the course and choosing content and teaching strategies.

Place-making in online courses