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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.


From Rourke et al., 2001:

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’

Instructional media such as computer conferencing engender high levels of student-student and student-teacher interaction; therefore, they can support models of teaching and learning that are highly interactive and consonant with the communicative ideals of university education. This potential, and the ubiquity of computer conferencing in higher education prompted three of the authors of the present paper to develop a Community of Inquiry model that synthesizes pedagogical principles with the inherent instructional and access benefits of computer conferencing (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). The present article explicates one element of the model, social presence. Social presence is defined as the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into a community of inquiry. A template for assessing social presence in computer conferencing is presented, through content analysis of conferencing transcripts. To facilitate explication of the scheme and subsequent replication of this study, selections of coded transcripts are included, along with inter-rater reliability figures. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications and benefits of assessing social presence for instructors, conference moderators, and researchers.


From Garrison et al., 2001:

Cognitive presence is the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication.

The purpose of this paper is to describe a practical approach to judging the nature and quality of critical discourse in a computer conference. A model of a critical community of inquiry frames the research. A core concept in defining a community of inquiry is cognitive presence. In turn, the practical inquiry model operationalizes cognitive presence for the purpose of developing a tool to assess critical discourse and reflection. Encouraging empirical findings related to an attempt to create an efficient and reliable instrument to assess the nature and quality of critical discourse and thinking in a text-based educational context are presented. Finally, it is suggested that cognitive presence (i.e., critical, practical inquiry) can be created and supported in a computer conference environment with appropriate teaching and social presence.


From Garrison et al., 2001:

Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes.

This paper reviews the tasks of the online teacher, gleaned from the literature and our own experiences as teachers of graduate level, online courses. It next introduces a technique for systematically analyzing the context of the text-based transcripts of those courses. We seek knowledge hidden in the data from the actual interactions between and among students and on-line teachers as they develop, facilitate, guide and evaluate learning activities. Our goal is to develop tools that are efficient, reliable, and practical in the task of helping teachers both understand and improve their on-line teaching. We examine messages for their contribution to three critical functions of the online (and classroom) teacher – designing and administrating learning activities, establishing and and maintaining an active learning community, and providing direct instruction. We hope our tools allow teachers to assess their own postings and serve as valued feedback for reflection and improvement of the teaching function. Secondly, the tools can be used for research to test hypothesis or diagnose problems in on-line teaching. We conclude with the results of our analysis of the transcripts from two graduate level teaching courses.


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Key references available as a downloadable file below have been compiled by Dr. Randy Garrison as an effective reading list for the Community of Inquiry framework. (Updated September 2021)


Stefan Overton on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hi everyone, Great to see this site, I am currently working on my PhD looking at how personalised learning can be carried out using the CoI as a framework within a blended study mode. Hoping that the work may help other educators to understand how to develop a personalised learning strategy. Currently looking at ...

Dan Wilton on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Welcome, James! You're exploring some very interesting territory here. The intersection between the Community of Inquiry and learning analytics is likely to become an important research area over the next few years - as is the area of affective, emotional, or "multimodal" learning analytics itself, as you describe ...

James A. Allen on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Greetings everyone. COL is basically in the learning domain, however, is it possible to assess or measure entry level skills in social presence, particularly affective behaviors to determine how well the student will do initially in a course. I understand that affective behaviors are effective until the COL becomes ...

Faith Mlotsa-Mngomezulu on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Sending my greetings to everyone. I am an education practitioner from Southern Africa Nazarene University who is mainly interested in a socio-constructivist approach to education in Higher Education. With the increase in unemployment I am realizing that creativity and innovation which is an element of construction is ...

D. Randy Garrison on Motivation and the CoI Framework
1 month ago
Minghui, Thanks for your question. While this deserves a more extended response, let be briefly say that both Lipman's work and the CoI framework is grounded generally in Dewey's work, although Dewey did not used this term explicitly. We borrowed the term community of inquiry from Lipman (2003) as this reflected my ...

Minghui Ye on Motivation and the CoI Framework
1 month ago
Dear professor, recently i have read the community of inquiry that created by Lipman decades years ago. So, I am wondering the relationship between your community framework and Lipman's. Are there some relationship between learning community(Dewey) , community of inquiry(Lipman) and community of inquiry (yours)? ...

Rick Holbeck on The CoI Community
2 months ago
Thank you so much!

Dan Wilton on The CoI Community
2 months ago
Welcome to the CoI community, Rick! Yes, shared metacognition (and the closely related [socially] shared regulation of learning, see eg. Sanna Jarvela and colleagues) is a key piece of the CoI picture and I'm sure will be an important research area over the next few years. As it stands, it can be a challenging ...

Rick Holbeck on The CoI Community
2 months ago
Good afternoon from Phoenix, AZ. I am at the beginning stages of a doctoral program and have been interested in the CoI Framework. I have recently read about the construct of shared metacognition and saw that there seems to be a large gap in this area. Can someone tell me how I can view a copy of the Shared ...

Heather Saigo on The CoI Community
4 months ago
Hi Martha! Thank you for those references. I am adding them to my reading list right now. I appreciate your help! Heather
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.