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.

Michellea Millis on The CoI Community
3 days ago
Greetings and Salutations everyone! Excited to be a member of this community!

Steve A. Solano on The CoI Community
1 week ago
Hi! My name is Steve. I'm from the Philippines but currently teaching in Seoul, South Korea. I'm now using the CoI framework for my AR project.

Andrea E. Blair on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hi Elizabeth, I am currently researching a similar focus. I am completing my dissertation with a focus on teacher perception of their online instructional practice during Covid-19. Do you have any suggestions or tips for a qualitative approach and building a qualitative instrument for focus groups? I am really ...

Andrea E. Blair on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hi Everyone! My name is A.E. Blair. I am an educator and doctoral student in the United States. My current research focus is Online Math Instruction in grades 9-12 during Covid and am use COI as my theoretical framework. I am interested in a qualitative approach and qualitative instruments that can be used for ...

Suzanne Szucs on The CoI Community
1 month ago
I am an educator and Faculty Online Training facilitator at Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester MN. With a MFA in studio art (photography), I have taught in the arts since 1995. In 2018 I was awarded an MS in Technology Integration from St. Cloud State University and have been using my training to ...

Carla Samuel on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hello! I am a Master's student interested in investigating the CoI framework using chatbots. I am interested in extending the studies of the CoI in imaginative ways to help student motivation and persistence in distance education and online ...

William Flynn on The CoI Community
2 months ago
Hi, I'm a doctor and anatomy educator from the UK, and recently published an account of how our department applied the CoI framework when moving our teaching online due to the pandemic: https://doi.org/10.1002/ca.23722 ...

Anastasios Katsaris on Teaching Presence Meta-Analysis
3 months ago
Thank you professor.

Ozlem Uzun on The CoI Community
4 months 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
5 months 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 ...
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.