Community of Inquiry Framework (COI)

What is COI?

The Community of Inquiry is a collaborative-constructivist process designed for the online or blended teaching, during which the learners create a deep and meaningful learning experience through the development of three dimensions or presences: Teaching presence, often referred to as the binding element in creating the COI, is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes to realize meaningful learning. The course instructor becomes a facilitator who guides their learners toward mastery while utilizing Social and Cognitive presences. It consists of course design and organization, discourse facilitation, and direct instruction.  Social presence is the ability of the learner to identify with the learning community and to perceive their members as “real.” Social presence was difficult to achieve in distance education environments until recently, with the advent of various communication technologies.  Cognitive presence, is the extent to which learners can construct meaning through sustained reflection and discussion with their peers and the course instructor. 

How do I Implement COI in My Online Class?

Creating the three presences in your online course can be done in many ways. Teaching presence

  • Ensure that the course design facilitates ease of use. 
  • Ensure that the course content including assignments, readings, and lectures are easy to understand 
  • Communicate expectations for teacher participation (e.g., extent of teacher engagement in class discussions and email response times). 
  • Introduce yourself to your students and ask them to do the same
  • Hold an optional introductory meeting via Collaborate or Zoom
  • Provide clear discussion requirements (length, content expectations, netiquette, timeliness)
  • Foster meaningful discussion through open-ended questions
  • Offer expert ideas/share expert knowledge / help correct misconceptions
  • Provide frequent timely and meaningful feedback

Social Presence

  • Be present in your online class by posting frequent announcements, emailing students, and videos. 
  • Use asynchronous and synchronous tools to create spaces where you can meet with your students and discuss ideas.
  • Take advantage of the discussion board. Discussion boards remain as one of the best vehicles for creating meaningful discourse in online classrooms. 
  • Offer collaborative project-based assessments. Group projects utilizing Google docs, wikis, and similar tools help build social presence and promote meaning-making. 

Cognitive Presence

  • Identify the big ideas in your course and build your course around them, including the course activities and assessments. 
  • Provide frequent opportunities for formative testing and feedback. 
  • Offer self-testing, practice assignments, and learning activities that provide immediate feedback (quizzes, interactives). 
  • When creating your course content, consider the multiple ways you can represent your content, and try to offer your content in multiple modalities.