Teaching presence is immensely important scaffolding a good learning environment and educational experience for the students, following a community of inquiry framework (CoI). According to CoI teachers should facilitate acquisition of knowledge through the design and organization, facilitation of discourses, and through direct instructions (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison, 2013).

community_of_inquiry_model-svgCommunity of Inquiry (CC, Wikimedia Commons)

I am at the moment a course instructor for an online internship course at master’s level. Our students at this master course are from all over the world and their internship placements are throughout Europe and the USA. At this particular course there are only seven students. They all have very different internship placements, are from different countries with varying academic culture, and have different experiences. Their learning environments are individual, and their tasks are individual. Consequently, effort should have been taken in order to secure a well-functioning learning community for the students in order to enhance their educational experience. I have not worked on making a community for these students. After taking the ONL course I realize how much that could have been added to their learning experiences by considering a few steps. Taking an onset in Salmon’s five stage model this could have been achieved through the five steps of  working with 1) Access and motivation; 2) Online socialization; 3) Information exchange; 4) Knowledge construction; 5) Development. The students have started, and been kept, in stage four knowledge construction throughout the whole course. One can maybe say that not paying more attention to the construction of the course and the learning community is an easy way out – less work for the teacher. This is, however, not necessarily the case, as the student will have tons of questions and would need much personal attention throughout the course. This could have been avoided by making clearer criteria and building a course where they could also have drawn on resources from each other, through the first, second and third steps of Salmon’s model.

Teaching presence is immensely important scaffolding a good learning environment and educational experience for the students, following a community of inquiry framework (CoI). According to CoI teachers should facilitate acquisition of knowledge through the design and organization, facilitation of discourses, and through direct instructions (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison, 2013). Particularly the facilitation of discourse has been lacking. Putting more thought into this through the whole construction of the course, by for example using the steps in an Addie model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) could have provided better result, and a more enjoyable learning process for both the learners and the teachers.

We have ended our online master program, and turned it into a campus program instead. Some of the reasons for that was the very poor results and high rate of drop-off among the students. The program costed a lot, took many resources, without satisfactory results. I am glad we turned it into a campus based course, as it is much nicer to have this direct contact with the students. However, I think that we could have saved some of the online parts, integrated it, and with implementing the new knowledge I have gained through this ONL course I think that we could have been capable of achieved better results.

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2 thoughts on “Scaffolding good online learning environments

  1. I’m so glad to read how you really integrate your experiences and readings from the ONL course with your own role as a teacher, learning designer and facilitator. I can understand that you appreciate that the master course now is on campus so you can meet the students IRL but I agrre with you that some kind of blended learning could have been a good solution too. Maybe it’s not to late for this?

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