The objective of the community of inquiry framework is to create collaborative learning communities. Originally the framework was designed for online learning environments, but it can also be applied to blended and in-person courses.
The educational experience in a community of inquiry has learners constructing knowledge through discourse and shared understanding. Educators work with their students to actively and collaboratively explore, create meaning and verify their understanding of knowledge. Meaningful collaboration occurs through the interaction of three equally important elements: the social, cognitive and teaching presences. The founders of the model, Garrison, Anderson & Archer (2000, 2001), offer the follow definitions of the three presences:
It’s easy to see the importance of these presences and how they interact when one is missing. In a course without cognitive presence there may be friendly discussion but minimal learning. Without social presence students may interact with content and the instructor, but they will not have the emotional, cognitive or motivational support that comes from working with others. Finally, without a teaching presence, students may learn and support each other but inefficiently without the guidance or direction of an expert. All of these parts must be present for a community to support learning.
Each presence can be promoted in tandem with the following strategies.
The design of the Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR) Rubric was informed by the community of inquiry framework. Visit OSCQR.org for more suggestions on how to cultivate the social, teaching and cognitive presences in your course.