Six Blind Men and an Elephant: Why we need learning communities

blind_menIn a parable, six blind men were challenged to accurately describe an elephant.  To add to the challenge, each man was taken to the elephant alone and allowed to touch only one area of the animal.  When they were asked to describe the elephant they each have a completely different perspective:

  • One blind man grabs the tusk and says, “An elephant is like a spear!”
  • Another feels the trunk and concludes, “An elephant is like a snake!”
  • The third blind man hugging the leg thinks, “An elephant is like a tree!”
  • The one holding the tail claims, “An elephant is like a rope!”
  • Another feeling the ear believes, “An elephant is like a fan!”
  • The last blind man leaning on the elephant’s side exclaims, “An elephant is like a wall!”

Because each man was trapped in his own limited perception, none of the six were able to form a clear mental picture of the elephant.  If instead they combined their individual knowledge and openly shared their understanding, the blind men would arrive at a more accurate conclusion.  What the six blind men need is a learning community—a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

Community of Inquiry Model

COIWithout quality instruction and interaction, online learners are like the blind men—struggling in isolation to make sense of a new learning environment. Garrison’s Community of Inquiry Model (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007 ) provides a systematic framework to enhance online learning.  The COI Model identifies three components of online learning:  Social, Cognitive, and Teaching presence.  When all three are evident, online learning will be effective.  Social presence is when online learners feel a social and emotional connection to each other; cognitive presence is evident when learners are able to construct meaning through sustained reflection and discourse; and teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation and direction of cognitive and social processes to support learning (Swan, Garrison, & Richardson, 2009).

So how do we create communities of inquiry?

Let’s start with some operation definitions of the three components of the CoI model.


  • Online instructors can create social presence by establishing open communication, developing cohesive teams, and allowing students to express their personal beliefs.
  • Cognitive presence is the result of creating interest and excitement about new ideas and helping learners identify ways to apply the new ideas to their personal lives.
  • Finally teaching presence consists of two components–solid course design and facilitation.

Let’s expand this list together by identifying ways that online instructors can apply the three components of the COI model.  Let’s create a community of inquiry for online teaching.

Add a comment to this post and identify at least one method you might use as an online instructor to address each component of the model.  Your comment should include:  The idea or method, why you chose it, a description of how it might be used in an online course, and a link to a website or article that provides additional detail. You’ll want to include three different methods—one for social, one for cognitive, and one for teaching presence.  

About Kathleen Iverson

Chair Graduate Program in Training & Development Roosevelt University
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125 Responses to Six Blind Men and an Elephant: Why we need learning communities

  1. flipper04 says:

    This is a great blog that clearly describes what it takes to create effective online learning communities. Each of these parts is necessary to provide an ultimate environment for online learners. Courses have to be created in a way that learners know what is expected of them and why. Each online course/activity should start with an icebreaking activity that will help the participants to get more comfortable with each other. Knowing each other will help create an environment in which learners can feel safe to express their opinions and expect them to be valued and taken seriously.

  2. tcromwell02 says:

    This was a great blog. I cannot think of a clearer description of the importance of teamwork and the reason to build a cohesive team. With limited sight or scope of what is before us we offer our best, but I can see how it falls short. I can only speak on what I know or what I think that I know. This is a reminder that everyone who is part of a team adds value!
    I see the importance of the consistent interaction within online courses. We trust that we will be able to offer our opinions, share discussions in an open format, and be respected. This can be difficult since we do not physically meet. While I am thinking about it, I would like to say that posting photos of ourselves makes online team interactions great. At least we can put a face with a name.

  3. daisydianne3 says:

    Garrison’s Community of Inquiry Model definitely applies to our online TRDV class today. I feel within our class discussions and groups that there is open dialogue, information exchange and a great teaching presence. The open communication that we have allows us to better shape our ideas together and learn from one another. Throughout our dialogue we are able to understand each other’s views. Thank you Professor Iverson for teaching us how to be collaborative and showing us the benefits that we can achieve by working together.


  4. Joi Tucker says:

    Hi All!

    As for having a Social Presence within an online course I like the idea of having students choose at least 4 others to connect with via LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a rapidly growing business networking site that yields a professional insight into one’s life as well as the ability to bond over common past endeavors. It can be harder to expand a network with people you have never seen face to face so this is a universal tool to help. A pro is that this page is to present your professional history and therefore probably wouldn’t have any info you may not want to share. Another pro is that there is a place to list other websites or blogs for others to be able to browse. The only con I could think of was if the student was not familiar with the LInkedIn interface prior to the class. Fortunately, LinkedIn offers numerous training resources for a successful page and connections. Check out for help

    To begin a Cognitive Presence I would do a lot of theoretical inquiry. Primarily I would introduce scenarios that allow the class to discover both their espoused theory and their theory in use. The espoused theory is what you say you do and why you do it. ( Schwartz, 2005) The theory in use is what you actually do. Ive learned the two usually end up being very different; this is something I think would be useful to address within an online class because we cannot actually observe each others behaviors. We solely rely on what is said in discussions. A little self examination and honest posting would be a great way to start the class in my opinion. Check out this video on the two theories for help,

    Finally, to establish Teaching Presence and maintain it the duration of the class would involve the instructor also adhering to the class objectives. Truly believing that “Students should be able to…at the conclusion of this course” should help in having a successful teaching presence. Understanding the growth without feedback is basically impossible and that the text is not the teacher but just a mere instrument is key. Check out why teachers with a purpose are more successful here:



  5. Camille Banks says:

    Dr. I, I love the TED website. Thanks for reminding me that it’s there.I learned about this last summer in another TRDV course. I think this site is really thought provoking. I must say, it’s a departure from much of what I see on the WEB. I had not known of it before this past summer because I don’t explore the web all that much. What I’m learning little by little in each class is that I must ignore the fact that much of what is on the internet is not good, but there is still a lot of good information and many quality resources there as well. My students also put me onto to good sites on the Web. To be honest, it was students who told me a few years ago about, a good place to buy used books. I’d been paying top dollar for everything before that.

  6. Jo Burnside says:

    Jennifer, Thank you so much for these resources. I finally had a chance to look at them. I particularly like the Faculty Focus site. It talks about the fact that we need to have a substantial amount of online information available to develop online courses. I bookmarked these and all the other resources I get from this class with the hope that I can use them when I develop my blended course. Thanks again!

  7. shelly waltman says:

    I am clicking through the links all of you have shared and I am learning so much and I am getting sooo many ideas! I love it! Thank you all so much for sharing! As a group we are AMAZING! I think I am enjoying these ideas so much because I know that if we incorporate new types of activities to our classes, people will have an even better learning experience. I always love hearing how people enjoy these new elements!


  8. Jennifer Searle says:

    Social Presence- I like the idea of having a Facebook page for the course. Most students already have a presence on Facebook so it would prevent students from having to upload additional pictures and a social presence is already established using Facebook. There are some additional problems with using Facebook as some students may not want to share all of their information with their classmates and not know how to selectively share information. I do think the ease of not having to re-establish an online presence for each class would outweigh the cons of using Facebook. Link

    Cognitive Presence- I would assign my students to read and discuss a current article (or video report) from a news website, or newspaper. The article would expand upon the basic material we are covering in class, but require students to see how the basic material affects them on a personal level. One site I found to provide the articles was

    Teaching Presence relies on solid course design and guiding students. I think evaluations at the end of each module would help with improving course design and be more immediate feedback for the instructor where the students are confused or where parts of the course are not designed well. A few short questions at the end of each module could be a very good guide for the instructor as to what should be fixed or clarified for the next module or the next class. In another online class I took we discussed using the ADDIE model for course design and there was emphasis on the evaluation as being a great tool for fixing problems in course design.

    • I agree Jennifer–Facebook, particularly with undergrads makes so much sense. Google plus can also be an alternative. Thanks for your thoughtful response!

    • Jo Burnside says:

      Jennifer, Thank you so much for these resources. I finally had a chance to look at them. I particularly like the Faculty Focus site. It talks about the fact that we need to have a substantial amount of online information available to develop online courses. I bookmarked these and all the other resources I get from this class with the hope that I can use them when I develop my blended course. Thanks again!

  9. Chris Thomas says:

    I wonder if others see a slight (and maybe happy) conflation of the role of the instructor and student in the online format (moreso than in a traditional classroom setting). When looking at the three-circle diagram above, it seems to me that the three areas are often not quite equal in online courses. The content is usually a large presence, and the social interaction is huge, but I feel like the “Instructor” circle could/would be a bit smaller than the others because of the focus on forum participation in online courses.
    Maybe this is already quite obvious and has been said a million times, but it’s something that keeps popping into my head when I read about trends toward online courses. The hype around MOOCs is often that they are “democratizing,” and maybe the leveling of the instructor/student discourse field is part of that. I don’t know. Is this something others have written about? Is this why some online courses refer to their instructors as “facilitators”?

    • Camille Wilburn says:

      I have to say that you share some really good thoughts that makes me wonder as well. One point I would like to make ,about the forums and online courses, is that this online course is the first time I had to participate in forums. I have mostly had online classes where you post to the subject matter for each week in blackboard and maybe respond to a couple of class mates. While the two sound very similar, and they may be, this course is just a little different thatn what Im use to

    • Fascinating observation Chris! I think the emphasis on facilitation comes from the notion that learning is constructivist in nature and that teachers are guides not presenters. I think that instructor presence permeates much of a course either directly or indirectly.

  10. Jennifer says:

    It is interesting that the six blind men and the elephant are used in such a context. I have used this same example when introducing different perspectives of psychology in the General Psychology class. Here the metaphorical story speaks to a need for learning communities so that multiple perspectives are shared with each other, therefore deepening each participating member’s understanding. The Community of Inquiry model highlights a need for three types of expertise when it comes to online instruction: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.

    Cognitive Presence: A lecture presentation from‎ highlighted best practices in online instruction across all three aspects of CoI. One suggestion that resonated with me, being a kinesthetic learner, was that online class assignments should be collaborative in nature and should focus on a real-life problem that a student may face or will face within their career or personal life. Specifically, “design and utilize collaborative projects that are applicable to the real working life of the respective group members”. Therefore, it would be a good idea for the instructor to first get a strong sense of each student’s specific reason for taking an online course and learning their professional or academic background so that assignments can be tailored to situations students may face after the class is done. I think this will create an online class that is more memorable and valued by the student. Using a collaborative approach keeps the student accountable for their work.

    Teaching Presence: When teaching an online class, the instructor must have a very clear vision and grasp of the direction of her/his course. The University of Central Florida (UCF) (( lists best practices in online instruction pedagogy that heavily emphasizes strong organization and course maps for students. So to enhance teaching presence, UCF suggests that online instructors provide a course map that offers a visual layout of the course and identifies where on the map students should go to find specific assignments or course resources. I think this idea is helpful because it provides the student with an organization layout of the course and relates it to the actual online platform with which students must regularly interact. This makes the course more accessible to students, and for me, it would allow me to better grasp how the online course is set up as well as provide me with a quick overview of what to expect over the length of the course.

    Social presence: When it comes to social presence, an article by J.V. Boettcher ( highlights the need for three types of interaction – teacher to student; student to student; and student to resource. The article suggests that emphasis on each type of interaction should be equal. When I researched other sites that listed best practices in online teaching, all of them noted the importance of frequent instructor presence in the online classroom. Therefore, I suggest that instructors make a strong classroom presence, especially in discussion rooms, chat rooms, etc. This sends the message to students that what they are posting is important, valuable, and very relevant to the class. It also provides students with some sense of structure and security because if the teacher is monitoring the discussion board, students are more strongly accountable for their work and more likely to remain engaged in the class. I chose this example because online classes are somewhat intimidating. Since no one in an online class is directly accessible, an engaged instructor is reassuring because they can provide more immediate feedback and answer questions that occur.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with your suggestion about a strong instructor presence–the most successful courses (which I define as being engaged and excited about the content) have had instructors who have a much bigger stake than simply posting discussion questions and moderating discussions. I think if students see regular and consistent feedback and participation in the discussions, it will motivate them to be engaged.

    • Wonderful post Jennifer! I agree a course map sounds like a great idea and I will add it to my future classes. One of the problems we all face in teaching online is the need to track updates–this doesn’t happen automatically in BB so if you change a date in one place, you must change it everywhere or confusion will result. I could see the map also being used as a tool for the instructor to track revisions.

    • Jennifer Searle says:

      I also think a course map sounds like a great idea. Is there an easy way to do this in blackboard? I have found that Blackboard can be a little more cumbersome than some of the other course management systems when it comes to course design.

  11. Sue Spear says:

    My experience with RU is my first with online instruction, and I am finding that what I get out of a course, as well as my enthusiasm for it, are very closely tied to the three components of the COI model. As a result, it’s made me think more closely about some of the specifics that make for an effective online course, as well as beginning to apply these concepts to the design of learning environments that will facilitate active learning.

    Social connection sets the tone for the group from the outset, and while icebreaker and introductory activities meet this need, many of the details of individual personalities tend to get lost as time goes on. As an instructor, I would explore utilizing a technology that would allow students to create an online social network that would include a “mini profile” that could be retained within the platform and accessible to all in the group. There could be certain elements that would be required, while others would be optional. There is discussion of this concept in the following article: While the experience of this particular technology had some drawbacks, it seemed in this study to create an overwhelmingly positive experience with the test subjects.

    Cognitive presence, according to research, often stops at the exploration or integration stage, and requires specific activities to move to the resolution or problem-solving stage. In my experience, the most valuable activities for creating cognitive presence in an online environment are to structure group activities that require the creation of a particular solution or position together. The following blog post (
    offers some very specific strategies for creating meaningful activities that result in real critical thinking by students.

    To expand teaching presence as an online instructor, there are many tools that overlap with the social connection aspects of online learning. In my mind, the two are inseparable—in order to engage students and form meaningful ongoing relationships that lead to creative problem solving and real solutions. In order to establish an immediate presence, as an online instructor I would provide information to students prior to the release of the course, and offer a YouTube type introduction in order to create an immediate connection and outline expectations. The discussion in The Learning Curve publication at
    provides some real-world scenarios of how instructors make their presence known. I tend to agree with the text that facilitating an online course, if done effectively, will take more time than facilitating a face-to-face classroom, primarily in terms of the ongoing time and engagement that is required to facilitate the social connections and assure that learning is taking place.

    • I like that you describe the “tone” of the class to be part of social presence. I think that’s a good way to describe it. I think you are right in thinking of ways that students can create more of a personality that can shine through digitally. I think the more we can feel like a person instead of an avatar, the better.

    • Great ideas and a wonderful reflective piece! Yes, teaching online takes perhaps as much as 3X the time to teach FTF so instructor engagement is a huge issue too! One area that I struggle with is the fact that every point of engagement that students experience requires additional work and assignments for them too! I try to balance the need for engagement with a realistic workload. Do you find online learning more time consuming that FTF and does the convenience of attending anytime/anywhere more than make up for the time commitment?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, and yes! I think online learning is more time consuming–if you want to really get something out of it. Here is an observation–face-to-face training or courses can be done more or less autonomously, other than group projects. There doesn’t seem to be as much investment by instructors in engaging students in peer-to-peer learning, whereas there appears to be a bigger commitment on the part of most (but certainly not ALL) instructors to engage people in the online learning environment. My recollections of f2f are that it’s do your reading and assignments, and come to class prepared to discuss, and then back to solo efforts. And yes, I think the additional investment in time is worth the convenience.

    • Jennifer Searle says:

      I agree that it is easy to loose touch with who each person is throughout the course. I like the idea of a mini-profile but do you think this might be too much additional work for the student?

  12. shelly waltman says:

    This is a really great article and visual!

    Social Presence – I love engaging people and having them jump right in. One website I love is I get lots of game ideas there and it gets me thinking about creative things to do in class. They have Jolt ideas, which I love. Jolts are things that grab learners and get them engaged.Sometimes, they accomplish the cognitive presence as well. I really enjoy having people share a story about their name. There are often funny stories told surrounding names. I also enjoy having people interview one another and then they introduce each other to the class.

    Cognitive Presence – to increase the cognitive presence, I love giving assignments to help people to dig deeper. So, if they just learned about a new product, I would ask them to create a case study to demonstrate they understand the functionality of the product and who to sell it to and to ensure they understand what problems it solves. Sometimes, I enjoy asking them to read chapters and then share with the group their thoughts related to the chapters they read. This allows me to iterate key points again.

    Teaching Presence – I think the presence of the instructor is critical and I would say that clear directions and supporting materials is key. I think that creating things like Screenrs help with this and I have put that to use to provide quick guidance to learners. Availability on email or in chat is important as well as the ability to communicate and control the learning process while allowing autonomy. My favorite approach is to provide self guided learning. This seems to work so well in my classes. I guide learners to the materials or types of material that I want them to use in their learning process and then I help them to process it with knowledge checks or by having them complete written exercises with me or others involved in their learning process.

    • Sue Spear says:

      Shelly: I’m not familiar with Screenrs–can you elaborate? One thing I’m wondering is how, as an instructor, do you manage your time when teaching an online class? It seems to me that this could become unmanageable if students expect instant access–which many do, given experiences with social media. The idea of interviewing students is a good one–it would seem to make things stick a bit better.

    • Andrea Bundt says:

      Hi! I’ve seen Kathy use the Screenrs and that is the first I’ve heard of it. I would really like to use them more often as well. I think they are a great way to interact with the students. It really looks like you have a great understanding of online training. Thank you for your post!

      • Paulina Merino says:

        I’m also fun of ScreenR. It keeps you well structured since it’s limited to 5 min of recording only. It kind of forces you to create short, focused modules, which learners enjoy. In my company we actually are building Video Academy (kind of like Khan Academy) with the ScreenR products. The great thing about it is that you can download the mp4 files and not keep them on the cloud, if security is an issue.

    • Hi Shelly:

      Thanks for your post! I agree, Screenrs are so useful and can make a confusing text-based course user friendly. Great suggestions too about Thiagi and engaging learners.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My first thought about this article is that if anyone had any confusions or unclarity about online learning,\, this article clearly gave a full understanding of the goals. the story, I believe, was a cognitive method that clearly provided constructive meaning to online learning.

    If I was an online instuctor, my method of teaching would be very similar to this article. My method would be to share a relaistic scenario to create dialogue, as a way of making learniner think about how that scenario relates or can relate to the material (cognitive). Giving something that learners can relate to, will almost guarantee them to think about it because they can relate or have some interest.

    As an example, if im teaching the basics of online learning, I may share a story of rprevious learners who had never used blackboard. Never had to follow a syllabus from point A to Z. My point would be to show how importanat it is to learn the basics if you want to succedd.

    My second idea/methos would be to ask all students, in my course, to share their frequency of online courses. i would also ask them to share their thoughts as to how confident they are at the succedding.
    I chose this idea becuase obviously from the title of the ocurse, 98% of the class have never taken an online course so they will be able to relate to each other and connect (Social).

    My third idea/method would be to design my course in a way that simplifies the content in an effort to compare the simplicity of online learning. My design and facilitation would focus on open communication, sharing related events and organization. The learners oppourtunity to success will increase (teaching presence).

    Camille W.

  14. Social Presence – I would include in the orientation activities a visit to a discussion forum titled “Water Cooler”. This would be an opportunity for students to exchange thoughts and feelings about things that are not exactly course material but still are relevant to them. This discussion board would stay available for the duration of the entire course. I would also include group projects in the course activities early and often.

    Cognitive Presence – I would always encourage questions from students, whether to me or to each other. For students who are ahead of the curve, I would offer a supply of brain teasers and puzzles to keep their interest. I also noticed that students respond well to the inclusion of stories and anecdotes from the history of Mathematics. Some of those stories are truly amazing.

    Teaching Presence – I think this should be omnipresent via the instructional design. In my experience, nothing triggers interest and excitement better than the experience of mastery. So the instructor (or rather the designer) has to walk the fine line of creating activities that aren’t too difficult or too easy. Course material needs to be presented as a series of questions/problems that lead students through a path of discovery. To me it is like carving stairs into a mountain. Each step is a skill or concept, that needs to be mastered before the next topic. For that, the internet offers interactivity, an opportunity for creating an individualized, assessment-based study plan. I also think it might help a lot if students felt that the instructor is constantly looking out for students. In the first few weeks, I would send an e-mail to students who are behind with the assignments, a few days before there are consequences. I would immediately respond to e-mails and otherwise monitor their progress.

    The COI model reminds me if IBL (inquiry-based learning) which is a fairly new approach that focuses on inquiry and collaboration. University of Chicago has been experimenting with inquiry-based learning (IBL) for years. This web site is a good resource for those interested in IBL.

    • Phillip Vargas says:

      Hi Marta,
      I’m not sure what you teach, but there has been a lot material developed IBL in the sciences. Chemistry is probably leading the way right now with POGIL.

      • I teach Mathematics at Truman College. A colleague of mine who teaches Chemistry told met that the national Chemistry curriculum is organized and realistic, and so everyone follows it, and so Chemistry education is doing pretty well. I am not surprised that Chemistry is ahead in IBL as well.

    • I like the “water cooler” metaphor–I suppose in classes, it’s the moments that students are allowed to socialize before and after class–the hallway moment I think. Would you require students to discuss in this environment or would you just create the space an see what happens?

      • I think I would first just create it and see what happens. If nobody uses it, then next time around I would make it a part of the orientation activities.

        • I’ve used this in many courses and find that if you don’t require it, only a few students will post. I love the if you build it they will come mentality, but the reality that I’ve found is that students are so busy and many times so overwhelmed by the forum assignments that they do not take time for extra forums.

          • Paulina Merino says:

            I had the same observation. There is so much to do that water cooler just seems like one more activity to complete. I think the FAQ forum serves the purpose of the water cooler very well.

            • It would be beneficial though to find a way to enhance the social presence early in a course. But when courses are accelerated, like this one, I feel that we have so little time and so much to accomplish that it’s difficult to add socializing to the mix–any ideas on how we might establish stronger social presence in accelerated classes?

              • Elizabeth Ball says:

                At work we have been using Twitter as an easy way for people to follow what is going on in educational events and it can add a social aspect as well. Why not set a hash tag for the class and then people can tweet and get alerts on their smart phones. Hoot suite is also an option if you are familiar with that.

    • Azmia Javed says:

      Hi Martha,
      Wow this almost becomes a detailed plan for a course. I specifically appreciate this insertion that course material be presented in the form of question and problems form and liked the detailed explanation of this point. It leaves the role of an instructor as a brain teaser and to look out for the students.I could not fully comprehend the fact that how could an instructor constantly monitor students during an online learning session. Can you give an example?

      • For example, giving online homework and quizzes. I log in and look at the grade book often and see who needs a nudge to get started on the work. I also look at the work (it shows their answer and the correct answer) and see if someone needs help in a specific area, or if everyone is making a same type of a mistake. That would be a sign that I need to adjust instruction.

    • Sue Spear says:

      Marta: You are describing a great deal of involvement on the part of the instructor, which I think is true with online learning. Where a f2f instructor may be able to directly inquire of someone falling behind, online learning may necessitate more probing and attention to participation, since it’s such a key element of the format. The IBL concept seems to be very similar to COI.

  15. Sandra K. Taylor says:

    There are several methods available to help create a social presence in online learning. First, the instructor need to have a solid understanding of how people think and behave as they do. The instructor must create an environment where learning is meaningful. In addition, the instructor must determine the appropriate applications of text based chat, voice based chat and multi-modal synchronous delivery systems in their courses. The focus here is to make the learners comfortable in the learning community. In many ways, online learning is the same as classroom-based learning. Good instructional design is the key. A common drawback of online learning is the emphasis on the medium as opposed to the instructional design. However, it is Important to understand that e-learning, particularly web-based learning, is heavily weighted in visuals. In addition to text and graphics, there are links to websites. In fact, well-designed learning websites take advantage of the visual nature of this type of learning.
    Cognitive presence in online learning is the juice for a successful online course. Forms are the heart of any online course. Forms are where learners are stimulated through reflections, and group discussion of theory etc…
    Teaching presence include design and development skills:
    The teacher’s responsibility is deciding what combination of instructional methods, presentation methods, and distribution methods will best deliver the final program to the learner. Outlining and creating instructional materials that are suitable for electronic dissemination.

    • Azmia Javed says:

      Hi Sandra,
      I believe that this stimulating blog by Kathleen Iverson gets a further light thrown on it through your comment. I must agree to the elaboration that the instructor ought to have grip on various modalities to transform any f2f course to an online one. Discussions and forums are good cognitive tools. I use these in my classes a lot.

      • Sandra K. Taylor says:

        Professor Iverson’s pod-cast is another way of bringing life into the course and it also demonstrate her skills of using different technologies to keep the learners engaged.

    • Sue Spear says:

      Sandra: How do you handle the differing computer capabilities of learners? I know sometimes that the computer I am using dictates what media I am able to access. And, I agree, forums are really the key to stimulating group discussion and application of theories.

      • Sandra K. Taylor says:

        We must remember that each online course require that all learners have computer access and certain computer skills to even participate in the course. If the course is an introduction course to computer technology then the instructor must use a system such as MOODLE—-and lots of written directions.

  16. Phillip Vargas says:

    Incorporating Social Pressure:
    I plan on teaching an astronomy class online. Now instead of a some of the classic icebreakers: “Two truths and a lie”, “If I had a million dollars”, etc, I would like to incorporate a sense of community, but also keep it content related. So, 32 astronomy images (equal to the number of students in my class) would be available on blackboard. Each student would choose an image and answer the following questions:
    1) What do they think image is about
    2) What part of the image reflects their personality.
    This activity will break the ice, introduce students in a unique way to each other and the material, and hopefully spark their interest.
    Making Curriculum Pop

    Incorporating Cognitive Presence:
    One of the main complaints about astronomy courses is that students expected to look at stars and learn stories of constellations, when they are actually required to learn more about physics and chemistry on the cosmological scale. To help bridge this gap expectation gap between faculty and students I have creating more assignments with software package Stellurium. This open-source/cross platform planetarium software allows students to examine the night sky from any location on Earth and at any time. This allows ample opportunities for creative assignments that incorporate scientific rigor with astronomical wonder. (Bonus: it’s available for the iPad and iPhone)

    Incorporating Teaching Presence:
    To make sure there is an easy transition to the tools and content I will make available I would create screencasts giving step-by-step instructions. Screenr is heavily utilized in RU and I have witnessed its benefits. Incorporating this level of instruction pushes the effort required in the class toward the content and overcoming technology.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent idea to create social presence! Students will get to know each other and themselves a bit better while still being engaged about the class!

      • Phillip Vargas says:

        Thanks. I learned about that technique in an professional development course. I am anxious to try it out next semester.

    • shelly waltman says:

      I love two truths and a lie. This always has everyone in stitches and often we hear some really cool stories!! I also wrote about Screenr, because I love that tool! :)

      • Andrea Bundt says:

        Yes, I have used two truths and one lie quite a bit. I like to use this activity throughout our four week training program to help build relationships and take mini-brain breaks throughout the day.

    • Anonymous says:

      I like your idea in incorporating a social method. Your idea would be an excellent way to peak your students interest, learn about each other and actually learn the material you are teaching.

    • Azmia Javed says:

      Hi Philip,
      The sense of community is definitely the key feature to any social presence or effective online learning. I must say that you incorporated it very effectively and stimulatingly. Here I would like to insert a personal observation: while visiting a planetarium it was observed and experienced that only the kids of younger ages enjoyed mostly the stories, the adults or comparatively older youth were interested in facts, figures and truth and most of all the outcomes or results of any application or theory of any contemporary event or research. So I believe story could be interesting but it may not cater to all. The instructor or course designer ought to have a more eclectic approach while designing such stimulating materials…

    • It looks like your students will have a great experience. I also really appreciate the fact that you are using open source supplements. I spent a few minutes on stellarium and it looks great. I think I will be able to use Sceenr in my own teaching, so thank you for the great links!

    • Great opener Phillip! I think that openers that also address content and even prior knowledge can be so beneficial and can address many goals simultaneously.

    • Paulina Merino says:

      Phil, this is an excellent icebreaker. Not only people have to get somewhat personal, but you are also keeping them in the spirit and the theme of the course, to increase their curiosity. If you choose the images so that they relate with the content you will be teaching, you can even have a “lesson plan” created of it and associated with people names :)

  17. Paulina Merino says:

    When reading this post I was looking for ways to apply it to the training program I will soon conduct. It will be a course delivered over a period of two weeks in a corporate environment. The tool for delivery I have available to me in my work is virtual meeting tool – WebEx. My comments below are made with the assumption that this is the environment in which I would deliver the online training.

    Social Presence – At the beginning of the class I would ask the participants to choose one icon (a tool available in Webex, similar to emoticons in instant messenger) that is reflective of their level of preparation, or attitude to learning this morning (I would come up with different questions each time we meet). Then I would initiate a conversation/quick exchange during which people would share why they feel this way, comment on each other’s emoticons etc.

    Cognitive Presence – to increase the cognitive presence I would give the learners the assignments in between classes and then during the class, ask them to demonstrate to others how they completed it.

    Teaching Presence – To facilitate open communication and interactivity I would divide the course participants into groups of 12 and schedule their classes so that each group would attend all components of the training with the same colleagues. In addition, I would make sure to send the instructions to the participants on how to complete each assignment, to make sure I streamline the process of learning and make it efficient. I would do it via email, sending it directly to course participants with specific instructions.

    • Great ideas Paula and I like how you applied the COI Model to your work–this creates deeper knowledge and transfer. Synchronous learning is much different than asynchronous and requires different strategies to meet the model components. I like how you are thinking of active components to bring to engage your learners.

      • I also listened to a recent webinar through ASTD on critical design activities for e-learning. One of the items they stressed in developing e-learning was to pretend your learners can’t read. Now your readers actually can read—but many choose not to read, especially in e-learning. So if many learners are not reading much of what you are carefully crafting for them, your writing won’t make any difference. Instead, think about how you could show this content in a way that would draw the learner’s attention voluntarily. It is unlikely to be another paragraph of text. It is much more likely to be a visual simulated environment (either real or artificial) that draws the learner in through interest, emotion, or immediate relevance that can be used to improve the learner’s ability to read for meaning.

    • Jo Burnside says:

      Hi Paulina,
      I really like the way you integrated COI in your training. I particularly like the reflective piece you will use for your cognitive presence. Demonstrating how they completed their assignment gives them the opportunity to think more deeply about their work.

    • Sandra K. Taylor says:

      Paula, you are on point and your thoughts suggest that there is very little difference in online learning and face-to-face. The teachers’ purpose and goal does not change, just the medium changes.

    • Azmia Javed says:

      Hi Paula,
      I must say it is a very interesting idea and I look forward to incorporating it during my next teaching session.

    • Sue Spear says:

      I have worked in both WebEx and Adobe Connect, and they have some very useful tools for meeting the COI goals–if the instructor/course developer utilizes them. In particular, there are some rich collaborative tools for students to use–but in my experience, larger courses may become unmanageable in terms of monitoring the discussion groups and chats. What are the sizes that work best for this medium?

  18. Beverly Bellamy says:

    To increase social presence: I would have the class create smaller break out groups. This allows my students to get to know each other and collaborate on assignments or complete a small project. Learners get to know one another throughout the semester without the pressure of navigating a larger group.

    Increasing cognitive presence: I would give learners an event to consider or a problem to solve. They would then be engaged to think critically about what precipitated the event, what could have been done to avoid it. Answer why it should or should not have happened and the event’s effect on people, things or places. Brainstorming is the driving force encouraging cognitive presence here. This gets ideas flowing and also gives students a chance participate in a meaningful way. Instead of information being given to them, there is an exchange of information and dialogue.

    Increasing teacher presence: This will happen prior to class in the design phase. As an instructor I need to design my course so that I am interacting with my students. I will also make sure they know I am available live and in person if needed. I have had course where instructors state they prefer to communicate via email. Although they are willing to meet face to face, I think that statement alone tells the student this is an online class and so is the instructor. I will stay involved in the dialogue created with each module and respond to students in a meaningful way. I would also provide constructive feedback promptly. Students should know how they are doing in the class throughout the semester.

    • Excellent points Beverly. I like how you address teacher presence in the design phase to build it into your course. This is often something we consider while the course is being delivered, but I agree, it must be addressed in development.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Beverly,
      You have incorporated all three elements of COI model in very effective and interactive way. I agree with the importance of teacher’s presence in online teaching and it is very impotant that student must feel this link and not abandoned. I am taking online classes fo the fist time, my experrience as online student is helping me in shaping some onlline activities in my f2f classes. while designing online activities, I make sure that my students have access to reach me anytime and get prompt feedback.

    • Jo Burnside says:

      Thank you for these great resources. I really like your plan for increasing teacher presence. Communication and constructive feedback are key.

    • Phillip Vargas says:

      Hi Bev,
      If you wanted to expand your brainstorming activities you could think about the (Think, pair, share) model where students would need to collaborate in their brainstorming. It’s fairly easy to implement in F2F classes, online courses may require using groups or discussion boards.

    • Anonymous says:

      I really like your idea about the smaller break outs. I think that would be beneficial to those that are not not rea;ly a people person. having to mingle with 2-3 is a lot easier than 8-10.

      Camille W.

  19. Camille Banks says:

    Hi! Many of the comments posted show an agreement with my philosophy of creating a Community of Inquiry.
    First, to help foster a social presence, the facilitator/instructor must devise a way for learners to get to ‘know’ each other. A big part of this ‘knowing’ is to know their writing styles as well as their respective disciplines, in addition to knowing a little personal information. Their name is important but also is their interest/expertise. So, facilitators should, as others have said, devise an icebreaker so that participants can introduce themselves and get a taste of each other’s interests and goals, as well as purposes for taking the course. It should be something that will get them writing a bit, as a lot of the assessment of assignments will rely on students. This will allow fellow learners to start getting familiar with writing styles in the group.
    Second, Cognitive Presence is important, other wise the participants may not be as interested in the course as they should or could be. Therefore, I think facilitators must show how the subject matter of the course relates to the learners’ own areas of interest/study and even their community and the world. This can provide learners with a vested interest in getting whatever the course has to offer. To help this along, facilitators should allow learners to tailor the assignments to their own areas of study. The constant should be the basic objective of the course, but learners can apply this to a question or problem they can solve in their discipline. This will also help them to resolve the learning experience and more readily apply conclusions to their own discipline. Retention of material from course could be greater and longer this way.
    Last but equally important is Teaching Presence. In a community of inquiry, the instructor takes a quasi-leader role. What I mean is that the instructor can present material for learners to consider, but a full-on ‘talking head’ role might not be the most productive. That instructor should guide, that is provide information or access to information needed to complete assignments, assist when their is confusion regarding material or an assignment, be there to answer questions that may be topical or logistical (such as website blackouts!), but ultimately, that instructor allows the Community participants to arrive at needed conclusions/outcomes.

    • Good points Camille! Early in online learning, teacher presence meant providing information and content, but now we realize that it means so much more. How involved do you think online teachers should be in the forums? We find that online teachers are either on one side of the fence or the other–they believe that active participation in forums with students is necessary while others treat forums as they would in the classroom and may observe but don’t interject.

      • Camille Banks says:

        I think on-line instructors should be moderately involved in forums. Perhaps to provide correction when someone needs clarity regarding a particular concept. The instructor should read everything that the students post to ensure ‘netiquette’ and all those things. In case someone posts something that is inappropriate or incorrect, the instructor may need to do some editing. Nevertheless, the instructor shouldn’t overshadow the participation of students. I’m still learning this balance in my regular courses! :)

    • Sandra K. Taylor says:

      What if the instructor asked the learners to develop a icebreaker for the first assignment. Do you think this would help create social presence/

      • Camille Banks says:

        Hi, there. Definitely, an icebreaker can create social presence, like the one we did for 501 and other in which I have participated in the past. But it depends upon the icebreaker. Some are more effective than others, as we all know:).

  20. Jo Burnside says:

    The COI Model gives us an excellent framework to meet all the learners needs. It is important to integrate Social and Teaching presence with the Cognitive. Students are more prepared to learn when their basic needs are met. There are many techniques to facilitate their learning. I like the idea of establishing guidelines such as Netiquette from the beginning to provide a safe environment for communication. As we plan for cognitive growth, it is imperative that we keep in mind different learning styles. Using a variety of learning activities will help us with this. Some of these activities can be Icebreakers, Case Studies, Games, Small Group Activities, and Brainstorming.

    • Paulina Merino says:

      Jo, I’m so glad you mentioned it! I remember my first Roosevelt course, when reading the qualifications of a good post and the entire online etiquette – I thought it was too detailed, almost patronizing, and totally unnecessary. I quickly learned that it was one of the most important baseline agreements in online learning. Just like you said – establishing the guidelines. Without that you could go way far into the course only to see that the entire thing is blowing up in your hands…

      It’s so easy to forget the basics…

      • Jo and Paula–thanks for discussing this topic! I agree with you both–communication guidelines can seem unnecessary and perhaps a bit overstated, but are important! When students don’t follow basic guidelines, conflict and misunderstanding can result and it’s difficult to resolve virtually.

    • Azmia Javed says:

      Hi Jo,
      You have mentioned some of my favorite activities like Ice-breakers, small group activities, games and case studies. Now-a-days I am working to design online version of these activities for my courses. I must say I am learning a lot from TRDV courses.

    • Nena B says:

      HI Jo

      Agreed! Netiquette is so very important. So many students are unaware of how to effectively and respectfully communicate with peers/ instructors in online learning environments. Also addressing various learning styles into activities/ (virtual) course lectures is indeed beneficial to students to advance their understanding of course content.


  21. It’s relieving to read a bit of a theoretical framework for online teaching–I think I’ve been looking for this when I think about what makes a good online class.

    I think creating an authentic social presence is a daunting tasks. It takes weeks, if not months, to create a classroom environment in my f2f classes through small groups, partner work, group projects, etc. Although these types of assignments can still transfer, I think being able to “see” participants, especially the professor is an important part of creating community. Given the multitude of technological tools that allow us to communicate through video (Face time, Skype, Google Hangout), classes should offer a way for students to do this. I can imagine it being at least an offer, if not a requirement one or two times a semester. Here is an article on creating virtual office hours through Google Hangout:

    Cognitive presence helps to bolster a constructivist classroom, but, of course, creating excitement on a subject can be a daunting task depending on the subject and students. Professors need to make space for authentic learning and the chance for student to use their prior knowledge and apply it to a new task. For instance, the assignment we have due in Week 3, the syllabus, is indeed an authentic task. I could see the assignment offered a different way as well. Perhaps the assignment could ask students to create an online class for a subject in which they believe they are an expert. How would one teach an urban gardening class online, for instance? An activity such as this would ask students to use what they know, apply it to a new skill, and create an authentic assignment. Here is a quick literature review on how to create authentic assignments for online learning that offers a few other ideas:

    I think teaching presence is often the most underserved component. So many times I’ve heard students complain about not knowing about something, and an instructor will just say, “It’s on Blackboard.” No matter what platform is being used (mylabs, Moodle, etc.), I think it’s important for professors to create simplicity and consistency in their course design. Rubrics, for instance should be easy to find, consistent, and obvious. Perhaps they should even been repeated in different parts of the course, so that students can’t miss exactly what is expected of them for each assignment. The instructor can also keep rubrics consistent so that once students are actively engaged with one, they can easily understand another. Here is a nice list of ideas to keep in mind to create a simple, streamlined design:

    • Wonderful resources Morgan–thank you for locating them and sharing them in our blog. If you’d like to experiment with Google Hangout in our class, please let me know–I tried this when it was first available and there were some tech difficulties but I think it would be interesting to try it again. Also, I appreciate the feedback about the syllabus assignment. The reason we have it address online teaching is twofold–first students have the opportunity to take a deeper look at an aspect of online teaching that interests them and when we do the delivery component at the end of the semester, fellow students find the topic relevant.

    • Paulina Merino says:

      Morgan, thank you for your post. It is very insightful. I must admit I haven’t heard about the authentic assignments before. I like the example you provided – teaching about gardening (something you know very well) and in the process, apply online teaching principles. I cannot however think of an example for how to use the authentic assignments in the courses that are very specifically restricted with their topics (e.g. math class, software course etc). Do you have some examples for those? I read the research paper you linked us to but could not find an answer. I would appreciate your thoughts on that.
      Thank you

      • Paulina Merino says:

        Are authentic activities just activities?… the more I read the more confused I’m getting :(

        • Jo Burnside says:

          I have always been told that Authentic Assignments are those that can can be applied to “real world” experiences. I can’t think of anything I teach that would not be authentic.

        • Jo is correct. It is related to assignments that represent the “real world.” So, in a writing class, perhaps cover letters are assigned or in a math class, geometry is taught through construction/architecture. Grant Wiggins is considered the authentic assessment “guru.” He writes, “…Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field.”

          Here is a decent webpage about it:

    • Phillip Vargas says:

      I have to confess that I use to be an “It’s on Blackboard” instructor for awhile before I learned that students couldn’t effectively navigate blackboard well. Since then I have taken a lot of time to improve my sites links and have provided some hands-on activities in class. This has really helped my students locate and utilize content that I post.

      • The first time I used Blackboard it drove me insane that with each announcement, only one document could be attached. Is this still the case? My other issue is that I believe once I upload something to Blackboard, I lost all copyrights to it. In case of certain documents I write, that is a deterrent. But I came to appreciate Blackboard a great deal because it is free for students and protects their privacy.

        • Well, it’s not exactly free for students. It does cost a BUNCH to institutions, and students end up paying for it through raised tuition.

        • Nena B says:

          HI Marta,
          I was just in a union meeting and they mentioned the lost of rights once publishing anything in Blackboard. For a second, I found that as a deterrent, but as you mentioned, Bb is so useful for students, and I find using the platform much easier for myself as an instructor for organizing documents/grades/assignments etc.


      • Nena B says:

        HI Phillip,

        I too find students have a hard time navigating Bb, especially if they have not had much experience with it in other courses. I always take time in the beginning of the semester, on the first class meeting to show student the syllabus and other links/ tools within the platform. They tend to appreciate the time I take, to do this.


  22. Andrea Bundt says:

    Hi! I’ve been having problems posting I’ll try it again. An idea that uses the COI model would be small group discussions that use rotating roles as the group leader. A group discussion allows the each team member to practice leading the group discussion. This can increase the accountability of the team and encourage equal participation. At the end of the course the group memebers will complete a peer evaulation on the effectiveness of the group leader upon a rubric. This allows for the social, cognitive and teaching presence of the COI model. Here is a helpful article on working in small groups:

    • Andrea thanks for your persistence! I’m not sure why you had problems, but am glad you were able to join the discussion. I think this is a great idea and similar to the learning circles I have used online. I wonder how students would respond to peer evaluation–do you think most would be open to peer assessment?

      • I had issues too…tried twice. Let’s hope third time is a charm. Dr. Iverson–do you have a spam folder for the blog? That is usually this issue for me when I have trouble with students posting in my blog–but that is using blogspot.

      • Okay…I see mine now, but it is “awaiting moderation.”

      • Andrea Bundt says:

        Hi Kathy-
        I think that most would be open if it would be kept anonymous and was also tied ot to the Insturctor’s assessment. I think peer evaluation is great and most people want to do well, therefore if they knew their peers were also evaulating it might increase performance? I’m not sure but we did it in one of my classes at the end of rather large group project and I really liked it.
        Thank you!

        • Interesting point about keeping it anonymous–I have done this often in FTF classes. I ask students to complete feedback forms after a presentation, collect them, review them, and include them with my feedback. Maybe there’s a way to do this online–food for thought!

        • Nena B says:

          Hi Andrea,

          I agree about the anonymity of peer evaluations. I only think students will feel uncomfortable evaluating someone’s work, if it were below standard and the evaluation wouldn’t be a positive one. And I also agree that students knowing they are being evaluated by their peers does (to a certain extent) increase their performance for the better– meaning students may put more effort into their work, as people do not want to appear in a negative light in the eyes of their peers.


    • Hi Andrea and Morgan–I think I’ve solved the problem. The settings only allowed two links in posts–I’ve increased it to four, so hopefully that will allow posts to appear.

    • Hi Andrea-
      Useful article!

      In a recent class I attended, the read about the work of Karen Swan of Kent State University. She presented there are three components of effective learning: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.

      First, the live virtual classroom enables the required social presence where learners can interact with each other and the subject matter experts and facilitators. They can share their observations and learning experiences. They can challenge, debate, and explore concepts in real time. If training requires this level of social interaction, then live virtual is likely the optimal approach.

      Second, live virtual is the optimal approach when the learners lack the time, focus, or motivation to learn the specific topic. The live virtual classroom provides a critical interface that enables us to motivate and inspire these learners to embrace new or different ideas, information, or approaches by providing context for why learning something is important or by making them aware of the tools available to them.

      Finally, the live virtual classroom frees us from having to gather our learners in a physical classroom and hold them captive for the duration of the program.

      • Andrea Bundt says:

        Hi! Thank you for the comments. Have you ever attended a virtual classroom? I wonder if learners are able to keep their attention span during the classroom? I ask because I have seen challenges with guest presenters using webinars and viewers multi-tasking through the webinars.
        Thank you,

        • Bev Bellamy says:

          I know you were asking Elizabeth this question, but I have attended a virtual classroom. One thing is for certain: the content and the instructor should be engaging and able to keep the subject and class activities interesting. I found my attention being split because the class slowed downed at times and allowed me to start thinking about other things I needed to get done.

    • Great idea, Andrea. In case of online groupwork, are you thinking about synchronous or asynchronous collaboration?

  23. Beverly Bellamy says:

    One thing that stands out for me is that one person may not always have a clear picture, but put everyone’s thoughts and ideas together and you begin to see a complete picture. none of the blind men were wrong about the elephant but each had a limited perception.

    • Phillip Vargas says:

      Exactly. I was think this is really analogous to our students coming into a class with their experiences and opinions of a subject beforehand. It is not until they listen to other interpretations of the subject that the whole picture becomes apparent.

  24. Andrea Bundt says:

    Social presence-
    • Icebreakers PowerPoint introductions. Icebreakers are a great way to introduce the course and allow the participants to get to know each other prior to working together in groups. The concept behind this icebreaker is to create an “all about you” PowerPoint to introduce yourself to the group. The great thing about using a PowerPoint is the participants can add photos. Kinks and videos. This way other classmates can put a face with a name. I searched the internet and there are thousands of icebreaker questions participants can answer in the PowerPoint presentations. Here is a blog that I liked:
    Cognitive presence-
    • Small group discussion with rotating roles as group leader. Forums are an excellent way for the participants to communicate with each other during online courses to review course work and readings. A group discussion with rotating roles is a way for each team member to become the leader and practice leading the group discussion. This will increase accountability and allow each team member to act as the leader. This will also help eliminate dominance by a few members of a group and encourage equal participation. The leader will act as the facilitator and ask questions to engage other team members. The other participants will act as contributing authors to the leader’s posts. Group members will reply with additional insight and contributions based upon the leaders questions. At the end of course, group members will complete a peer evaluation on the effectiveness of each group leader based upon a group rubric. Here is helpful article on working in small groups:
    Teaching presence-
    • Master Checklist with action items to be delivered each week with links to information. The Instructor will create a master checklist that is available for participants to notate online or print. The master checklist will have clear descriptions of deliverables for each week and associated links and timelines. The master checklist is designed to help participants manage the amount of deliverables during an online course. The goal of the master checklist is for participants to stay organized and meet deadlines without falling behind. This will be helpful in an online class because it is easy to fall behind and that can make it challenging for the participant and other team members during group projects. Here is a useful article that includes best practices to help participants stay organized:

    Thank you!

    • Paulina Merino says:

      Andrea, thank you for posting the link to the blog about the icebreakers. I’m totally stealing the ideas from it for my new hire training. Six degree of separation – EXCELLENT!!! Also ‘same and different’ – wow. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!

      • Andrea Bundt says:

        Yes, I found some good ones in the article as well! I hope to use some of them in an upcoming trainings. I’m glad you liked it!

    • These are great ideas. Also, thank you for the wonderful links. Would you post the last one as a resource for students? I looked at the web page and I found it very useful as a student in an online class.

    • Anonymous says:

      Andrea: I’ve been part of courses where the leaders are rotated (or where roles and responsibilities are rotated), and it’s very effective. This also enables the group to negotiate if someone needs to switch roles for a particular assignment. Thanks also for the link about staying organized. I initially found Blackboard and the organization of courses to be somewhat confusing, but have learned to work with it. It is, though, often a function of the instructor’s organizational abilities and understanding of the needs of online learners. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Azmia! Very nice post. I think that small groups in online learning can be very effective and agree, they address both social and cognitive presence when focused on course content. Thank you also for the link.

  26. Azmia Javed says:

    A very effective and precise description of COI model.
    I think this the beauty of online teaching that it provides learners ability to have control over their learning process. One method which almost fullfils all the elements of COI model is use of small group learning or SGL. Small groups provide active,relative learning experience. The learners can access shared experience, knowledge and help construct this knowledge in meaningful ways.
    If used carefully small groups can cover social presence and cognitive presence. SGL can be adapted in so many different ways for both synchronous and asynchronous classrooms. It can be combined with other teaching methods like Peer Tutoring, Concept map etc.
    Following link provides all the details about SGL.

    • Social presence is the extent to which learners perceive a personal connection with the instructor and also with fellow learners. Social presence is independent of delivery media, but for online learning, there are some innovative ways that have come along to further social presence.

      I really like the way our organization is starting to use social media in learning events. We recently hosted a webinar of lung cancer with about 300 learners globally. Our social media strategist was tweeting during the entire event to help drive the conversation and the submission of questions that could be received via the chat function in the online interface.

      • Andrea Bundt says:

        Hi Elizabeth- Were you able to drive interaction with the learners with the tweeting? Some of my team members tweeted during a conference to keep us that weren’t attending the conference in the loop.

        • Elizabeth Ball says:

          Yes. It takes a tad bit of planning on advance such of looking at the agenda and looking ahead at what is important, staging questions for others to respond to, promoting hash tags for everyone to use, etc. It has been rather effective though in getting participants to interact and use Twitter as a tool in social learning.

      • Nena B says:

        That is interesting! What a clever way to use Twitter. A few years ago, I wasn’t really involved in Twitter, as I saw it as an extension of FB– people just ranting and about their lives, gossiping, and responding to nonsense. However, so many organizations, networks and professionals use Twitter. I would have never thought (well I am not a frequent twitter user, as I am inching my way in) of using twitter during a conference/ webinar to engage participants… However the more I think about it… it is no different than TV shows/New networks using twitter in the same manner.

        Thanks for sharing


    • Azmia Javed says:

      Teaching Presence: Instructional Design ensures the teaching presence. Teacher is responsible for providing guideline to help students walk through the course. I think success of online course resides in instructor’s ability to link course contents and activities to accomplish learning objectives.
      Teachers availability and prompt response to the students’ inquiries as well as performance is an other key to success of the online teaching. Here is an article about teaching presence which I found helpful.

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