The Community of Inquiry makes use of cookies. By continuing, you consent to this use. More information.

The focus of this short post is to highlight the essential role of faculty development and the role of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework in supporting faculty moving to online and blended learning. It has become apparent during the COVID pandemic that the success of online learning is strongly dependent upon approach and preparation. This point was made recently by O’Ceallaigh (2022) when he argued that “designing, navigating and nurturing purposeful and engaging virtual learning spaces for students” (p. 1) positively impacts online learning. Moreover, to achieve positive outcomes moving to online learning there must be clarity to pedagogical approach that provides rationale and commitment. This is where the CoI framework has become the theoretical foundation of choice in conceptualizing and guiding faculty through the intricacies of designing and delivering online and blended learning. The effectiveness of the CoI framework to structure and guide faculty in re-designing their courses was demonstrated early in its development (Vaughan & Garrison, 2006).

The evidence has continued to grow that the CoI framework is a viable conceptual guidance in designing and delivering online and blended learning. This is evident in studies that have recommended the use of the CoI framework as the theoretical foundation for understanding teaching presence and improving the online teaching process (Arsenijevic, Belousova, Tushnova, Grosseck & Živkov, 2020; O’Ceallaigh, 2022; Singh, Evans & Reed, 2021; Singh, Singh & Matthees, 2022). In this regard, it has been stated:

“The Community of Inquiry framework and technology enabled tools can help in creating optimal online learning experiences for students. By building social, cognitive and teaching presence, instructors can facilitate critical thinking, critical inquiry among students and meaningful discourse among students and faculty” (Singh, Singh, & Matthees, 2022, p. 15).

Some research has focused specifically on teaching presence to influence learning performance. In this regard, Yin and Yuan (2022) state that “Teachers should fully consider the characteristics of online and offline learning to conduct teaching organization, design, conversation facilitation and direct teaching guidance, so that students can perceive sufficient teaching presence” (Conclusion). Moreover, Akbulut, et al. (2022) reported that the findings of their study “suggest that course instructors should prioritize planning activities to ensure TP [teaching presence] when designing online courses in times of emergency or under similar conditions” (p. 14). In a study exploring blended learning interactions and experiences as seen through the elements of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, Villanueva (2021) found strong teaching presence. Consistent with the previously noted studies, Villanueva (2021) argued that this justified “the CoI as a practical framework to understand and guide teaching and learning in K-12 blended learning programs” (p. 31).

Finally, from an institutional perspective, it is essential that faculty support be accompanied by incentives to invest enormous amounts of time in redesigning their courses (Garrison, 2017). This required investment reflects the challenge in adopting new approaches and technologies. Faculty support is also needed to understand and cope with complex software and how best to employ it effectively to improve the online learning experience. To manage the challenges of shifting to on online learning environment, I reiterate that faculty support must include a coherent and understandable approach to learning online. Importantly, the evidence is growing that the Community of Inquiry framework is an effective conceptualization and tool to ensure sustained collaborative and transformational approaches to online learning.

The bottom line is that I believe the core challenge of online learning is establishing community (Guo, et al., 2022; Moschovis, et al., 2022; Yoon & Leem, 2021) and providing faculty development to transition to an online learning environment (Archambault et al., 2022). Invariably when online learning does not go well it is a consequence of a lack of community and faculty development (Farahian et al., 2022). On the other hand the evidence suggests that when there is social, teaching and cognitive presence, learners express satisfaction with the educational experience. For this reason the CoI framework is invaluable in preparing faculty and students for online learning and to curate a collaborative learning environment.


Akbulut, M. S., Umutlu, D., Diler, O. N. E. R., & Arikan, S. (2022).Exploring university students’ learning experiences in the COVID-19 semesterthrough the Community of Inquiry framework. Turkish Online Journal ofDistance Education, 23(1), 1-18.

Archambault, L., Leary, H., & Rice, K. (2022). Pillars of onlinepedagogy: A framework for teaching in online learning environments. EducationalPsychologist,

Arsenijevic, J., Belousova, A., Tushnova, Y., Grosseck, G., &Živkov, A. M. (2020). The Quality of Online Higher Education Teaching Duringthe Covid-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Cognitive Research inScience, Engineering & Education (IJCRSEE). 10(1), 47-55. DOI:10.23947/2334-8496-2022-10-1-47-55

Farahian, M., Parhamnia, F. & Maleki, N. (2022). The mediatingeffect of knowledge sharing in the relationship between factors affectingknowledge sharing and reflective thinking: the case of English literaturestudents during the COVID-19 crisis. Research and Practice in TechnologyEnhanced Learning, 17(24).

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: ACommunity of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd edition).London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Guo, Q., Zeng, Q. and Zhang, L. (2022). What social factorsinfluence learners' continuous intention in online learning? A social presenceperspective. Information Technology and People,

Moschovis, P.P., Dinesh, A., Boguraev, A-S., &  Nelson, B. D. (2022). Remote online globalhealth education among U.S. medical students during COVID-19 and beyond. BMCMedical Education, 22, 353.

O’Ceallaigh, T. J. (2022). Designing, navigating and nurturing virtual learning spaces:Teacher educators’ professional development priorities and potential pathways. Teachingand Teacher Education, 115, 1-16.

Singh, J., Evans, E., & Reed, A.(2021). Online, Hybrid, and Face-to-Face LearningThrough the Eyes of Faculty, Students, Administrators, and InstructionalDesigners: Lessons Learned and Directions for the Post-Vaccine and Post-Pandemic/COVID-19World, Journal of Educational Technology Systems,

Singh, J., Singh, L., & Matthees, B. (2022). EstablishingSocial, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence in Online Learning—A Panacea inCOVID-19 Pandemic, Post Vaccine and Post Pandemic Times. Journal ofEducational Technology Systems, 1-18. DOI: 10.1177/00472395221095169.

Vaughan, N., & Garrison, D. R. (2006). How blended learning cansupport a faculty development community of inquiry. Journal of AsynchronousLearning Networks, 10(4), 139-152.

Villanueva, J. A. R. (2021). Teaching Presence in K-12 BlendedLearning Classes under the Alternative Delivery Mode. International Journalon Open and Distance e-Learning, 7(1), 31-52.

Yin, B., & Yuan, C-H. (2022). Blended learning performanceinfluence mechanism based on community of inquiry. Asia Pacific Journal ofEducation, 1-16.

Yoon, P., & Leem, J. (2021). The Influence of Social Presence inOnline Classes Using Virtual Conferencing: Relationships between GroupCohesion, Group Efficacy, and Academic Performance. Sustainability, 13(4),1-19.



D. Randy Garrison
Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary
D. Randy Garrison is professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.Dr. Garrison has published extensively on teaching and learning in adult, higher and distance education contexts. He has authored, co-authored or edited fifteen books; 94 articles; 68 book chapters; 40 conference proceedings; and more than 100 academic presentations. His major books are: Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition); Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry; Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines; Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2000). A transactional perspective on teaching-learning: A framework for adult and higher education. Curriculum vitae



Community of Inquiry Research: Two Decades On
D. Randy Garrison
May 1, 2024
A decade after the publication of the seminal article describing the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000), we provided a personal perspective concerning its development and

New book: The Design of Digital Learning Environments: Online and Blended Applications of the Community of Inquiry
Stefan Stenbom
January 31, 2024

Shared Metacognition and the Emergence of AI
D. Randy Garrison
November 1, 2023
Artificial intelligence brings increasing attention to critical thinking and discourse. From an educational perspective, my rationale is that the community of inquiry framework, whose

Social Presence Reconsidered
D. Randy Garrison
October 3, 2023
My previous editorial addressed the generic nature of the CoI framework. Given the relevance and validity of the CoI framework in face-to-face settings, this editorial considers the

CoI Framework in Face-to-Face Environments
D. Randy Garrison
August 1, 2023
I think it is safe to say that the general perception of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework is that it is specific to an online or at best blended learning environment. The reality
The Community of Inquiry is a project of Athabasca University, Mount Royal University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, as well as researchers and members of the CoI community.