An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements: social, cognitive and teaching presence.


The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework theory, methodology and instruments were developed during a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities research funded project entitled "A Study of the Characteristics and Qualities of Text-Based Computer Conferencing for Educational Purposes" project which ran from 1997 to 2001. Central to the original study was the creation of a framework of a community of inquiry comprised of three essential elements of an educational experience: cognitive, social and teaching presence

Outcomes of the original project were published in peer reviewed journals which, in turn, have resulted in hundreds of research studies applying and extending the original CoI theory, method, and instruments. The seminal paper "Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education" (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000) has been cited more than 2,800 times (as reported by Google Scholar August 2015) and provided the foundation for valuable empirical research in learning theory across multiple disciplines and in varied educational settings.

In the following interview for the Reflective Teaching in a Digital Age podcast, Dr. Randy Garrison describes the history of the CoI framework, including its role in the thoughtful design of online education, and practical ways of helping students learn through active participation and shared meaning making.

Reflective Teaching in a Digital Age: Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework and Online Teaching


The Community of Inquiry questionnaire is developed and validated by a collaborative research team. The members of the team, in alphabetical order, are Ben Arbaugh, Marti Cleveland-Innes, Sebastian Diaz, D. Randy Garrison, Phil Ice, Jennifer Richardson, Peter Shea and Karen Swan.

The results were presented at the Sloan-C Conference in Orlando in November 2008. A three factor solution with oblique rotation was presented. All variables loaded cleanly on the expected factor/presence. This suggests a stable instrument that could be used in a variety of studies, including large scale inter-institutional or cross-disciplinary studies.

The survey in English: PDF | Word
La encuesta en español está disponible aquí.

The CoI Survey is an open resource under Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the CoI survey to use, share, copy, adapt, merge, publish or distribute the document in any medium or format for any purpose, provided that appropriate credit is given, and any modified material is distributed under the same Creative Commons license.


Our sister site at Athabasca University features an extensive set of publication references, including papers, dissertations, and books about the Community of Inquiry, as well as further and more detailed information on the CoI framework, its presences, and the CoI survey. Visit the CoI Research Site.

Student populations today are more diverse than ever before. Differences in ability levels, ethnicity, cultural background, and gender identity, among other factors, can provide learning environments with a rich kaleidoscope of features. With inclusive leadership and practice, student diversity can add value to the learning environment, providing opportunities for meaningful learning, personal growth, and community building. Join the Inclusive Educators' Toolbox community and contribute your own tools and ideas for inclusive education.

Technology-enabled learning (TEL) has the power to transform both teaching and learning in classroom-based, online, and blended education by introducing the digital tools and resources 21st-century learners will need in order to explore, understand, and express themselves. These technologies can transform teaching by creating new, connected relationships between teachers, students, and content to improve instruction and create a more personalized form of learning. Join the TEL Resources Repository community and contribute your own resources and ideas for technology-enabled education.

Ozlem Uzun on The CoI Community
1 month ago
My name is Ozlem from Turkey. I am an English teacher and have been doing my job for 19 years. I finished my MA in July, 2019 and doing my PhD in distance education and love doing research and learning. My research interests are material and course design, learning communities, language teaching and educational ...

Lorelei Hanson on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hello everyone. I found this network site through taking a MOOC in Quality Graduate Supervision. I am an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Human Geography at Athabasca University, where well before COVID I was teaching entirely on-line. Some of my interest in this community arises out of my on-going ...

Anastasios Katsaris on CoI Emergence and Influence
2 months ago
Thank you professor.

Elizabeth A. Ebersole on The CoI Community
4 months ago
Hello! I am a doctoral candidate in Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership EdD program. My research interests include technology infusion at all levels of education and especially how teacher education programs are preparing preservice teachers to successfully evaluate and use technology in their ...

Niki Raga Tantri on The CoI Community
6 months ago
Hello everyone! I am Niki Raga Tantri. I am an online tutor at English Literature Department, Indonesia Open University, namely Universitas Terbuka. I was introduced to CoI Framework when I learned it in a workshop for a MOOC online facilitator in my country in 2017. It was fascinating since the framework is suitable ...

Obasesam Okoi on The CoI Community
6 months ago
My name is Dr. Obasesam Okoi, an Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies. I specialize in post-conflict peacebuilding policies and practices, and the connection between technology, social justice and peace. I would be teaching Intro to Justice and Peace Studies in Fall 2020 using a CoFlex synchronous model. I ...

Dr. Travis Taylor on The CoI Community
6 months ago
My name is Dr. Travis Taylor. I am an instructional technology specialist in Little Rock, Ar. I provide professional development and technology integration support to teachers and administrators. I was introduced to the Community of Inquiry Framework during my doctoral studies. I am interested in developing ...

Jacquelyn Christy on The CoI Community
6 months ago
Hi. My name is Jackie Christy and I am from Southern California. I am currently in Educational Doctoral program at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. I am employed as an elementary school principal at a small Title 1 school here in Orange County. My dissertation interest is on the ...

Eva Kaczko on The CoI Community
10 months ago
Hello, My name is Eva Kaczko, I am a university assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. I have a Master of Science degree in Business Education (a specific profession in German speaking countries). My dissertation is guided by the overarching question of how Learning Analytics can be ...

Adam Neufield EdD on The CoI Community
11 months ago
Hi folks. My name is Adam Neufield and I've just this year transitioned into a researcher/consultant role with an education group in China (Xiehe Education Group). I had previously held a leadership role (principal) at one of our international school campuses in Shanghai, and prior to that, have held a variety of ...
The Community of Inquiry is a project of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, researchers of the Community of Inquiry framework, and members of the CoI community.