Constructivism Analyzed using the Community of Inquiry Model
|This paper is being added to my learning log as I prepare for the portfolio. That is why it is out of sequence with the dates.|
Boise State University
The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is a paradigm established in 2000 by D. Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walter Archer that identifies how students learn in online asynchronous discussions. Over the past ten years several other researchers have joined in the scene by taking their own angles on how CoI can be measured, manipulated, applied, or just be useful. The Community of Inquiry is not unlike other learning theories where it has components that are made up of even more specific parts. For CoI, the three main parts are called “presence” and within each presence there are variables that over the last few years have been used to measure the feasibility of the particular learning environment. First an overview of inquiry will be presented, followed by an introduction of the three presences along with some excerpts from literature.
What is Inquiry?
Inquiry is an educational practice that is based on the Constructivist learning theory. Constructivism has students create their own meaning for an assignment by having control of some of the direction or questioning involved with the lessons. Students derive meaning from the lesson instead of being told what to think or by being shown all of the answers. Hands-on learning is a constructivist approach because students manipulate objects to make meaning of the concepts or theories. Inquiry takes the hands-on approach one step further by giving students more control over the lesson, its content, or its direction. (Llewellyn, 2002) The Community of Inquiry is a manifestation of inquiry in an online written environment involving asynchronous discussions. Analysis of discussions using the Community of Inquiry model lets researchers measure the extent of inquiry that happens during said asynchronous discussions. Community of Inquiry is a learning theory because it analyzes learning that happens by means of interactive online discussions where ideas are developed over time via facilitation from each other or an instructor.
What is the Community of Inquiry?
Three presences were established in 2000 when Garrison, Anderson, and Archer published the paper, “Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education.” The paper’s approach was to bring awareness to a new trend in higher education called computer-mediated communication (CMC). They had done extensive research to delineate the components needed for learning to happen and they identified three core elements that needed to interact for a community to form where inquiry could happen. It was in this paper that the social presence, the cognitive presence, and the teaching presence were born. Since year 2000, numerous education researchers have been wrestling with not only how to design asynchronous discussions so that all three presences can appear, but also with learning how to measure the efficacy of a discussion in the context of these three categories.
In a face to face classroom, students are given a question to explore, conduct the experiment with peers, and formulate conclusions. It is not feasible to do the same type of inquiry when students do not meet in person. However, inquiry can be done online using asynchronous discussions. For an online discussion to foster inquiry, it must have certain characteristics. Since students make decisions about what to discuss, they formulate ideas and questions, and take ownership of what they say, inquiry is by definition involved. Students are given control over where discussions lead. If they go off topic, then other students will either point it out and steer them back on topic, or the off topic ideas will be ignored. Naturally, the participants have to be comfortable with the social setting and not be afraid to express their ideas. In addition, it helps if their ideas are received, considered, and processed by participants since having ideas validated carries a lot of weight in the online learning environment. If the social construct for the discussions is healthy, then a community of inquiry forms. Merely having a discussion forum does not guarantee it will evolve into a community where ideas are freely shared, respected, and altered. There are other factors that need to exist. An instructor is still necessary to get the course started and to establish the safe discussion environment; however the students, when adequately engaged will create the community of inquiry because they will ask their peers questions to get others to think beyond their initial responses. Having students initiate questions that foster further discussion is a form of inquiry because the ideas and direction of the discussion are being generated by the students and not by the instructor.
The social presence component goes beyond netiquette to a more involved interaction with the other students in the class. The three areas that comprise social presence are “Emotional Expression, Open Communication, and Group Cohesion” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000, p. 89). The social presence is often the element that constitutes the human side of having a discussion. It comprises the aspects of the conversation where people relate to each other and develop a personal investment in what is transpiring online, which may keep them coming back to the discussion area. Maintaining a risk-free environment where people feel open to sharing ideas is crucial to establishing the social presence. A risk-free environment yields open communication, and the group cohesion develops as participants collaborate to produce a product from the synergy of their ideas.
The cognitive presence is as it sounds; it deals with the thinking that happens as evidenced by the discussion. The four areas that constitute cognitive presence are, “Triggering Event, Exploration, Integration, and Resolution” (Garrison, et al., 2000, p.89). First there is a triggering event which stimulates the participants’ curiosities. Students are engaged by a question or a dilemma they need to solve. They exchange information as they collaboratively explore possible solutions. These interactions lead to integrating ideas into a thesis or possible explanation to the question or dilemma. Finally the group applies their ideas to a new scenario or tries out their proposal to determine its validity. The last part is a resolution of their synthesis- was their collaborative premise valid?
Although at first this may seem like the role of the instructor, the instructor is involved only as a facilitator who encourages students to help lead the discussion. The three areas that comprise the teaching presence are, “Design and Organization, Facilitating Discourse, and Direct Instruction” (Garrison, et al., 2000, p.89). The teaching presence emerges when students explain things to each other (direct instruction), ask clarifying questions or encourage others to be involved with the discussion (facilitating discourse). The design and organization component may be more difficult for students to foster if the professor has already established a routine or expectations for the discussions. However, giving students an opportunity to choose partners for assignments may put some of the control for subsequent discussions in the hands of the students. Since asynchronous discussions lack face-to-face spontaneity, identifying when participants are steering the direction of the discussion may be not obvious until after you see if the discourse has gone in a unique direction.
Some research over the last ten years
There has been a great amount of research done to clarify what social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence mean and to identify ways these ideas can be used to measure interactions or student behaviors in online situations. It is possible that when researchers analyze their asynchronous discussions, a statement may fall into more than one “presence” category so the articles cannot easily be separated by their presence category. Instead they are identified here according to the main idea the paper was trying to establish.
How does the instructor/teacher impact discussions?
Some researchers have aligned their research with Garrison’s theories, whereas a few other people are challenging some of the nuances of the Community of Inquiry. Shea and Bidjerano’s 2009 paper has a lengthy introduction about theories of how online instruction works and they delve into what Garrison and his group have established with the Community of Inquiry. They also recognize other groups who are organizing theories such as Mishra and Koehler, and Larramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt. Larramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt look at the online interactions as presentational and performance-tutoring instead of having three presences like Garrison’s CoI. Mishra and Koehler are the ones who coined the term, technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) model, which integrates Laramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt’s views. “Quoting Schulman (1986), Mishra and Koehler (2006), argue that the bifurcation of disciplinary knowledge and pedagogical knowledge was a major barrier to the improvement of instruction in schools” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 544). This disconnect continues when teachers enter the classroom. They may know how to teach and what to teach, but not how to teach the content they are supposed to teach. An analogy to online asynchronous discussions is drawn. Online instructors may understand the mechanics of a discussion forum and the content that needs to be taught during that class, but do they understand how the instructor is supposed to behave so that student learning can be maximized?
Shea and Bidjerano propose that the instructor plays a significant role in the success of an online course. They administered a survey that included gathering demographic data in addition to the directed questions about student reactions to their coursework. They did not create the survey tool in isolation, but rather it was a collaborative process among several researchers, including Garrison’s group. Their findings conclude that there is a relationship between social presence and the ability of learners to extend their understanding of the content presented in the class. They assert that “teaching and social presence represent the processes needed to create paths to epistemic engagement and cognitive presence for online learners” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 551). What I am still not clear on, however, is if they view a teaching presence as one that is outside of the learner or if they recognize the teaching presence comes from within the learner. Some statements suggest that the instructor merely facilitates a teaching presence within the students; however, they imply instructor presence plays a role in increasing cognitive presence through the course instructor being engaged with the discussions as they happen. Students responded better when the “instructors’ judicious participation in online discussion” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 551) focused the learners to pay attention to the relevant topics. They continue their discussion to suggest instructional designers must incorporate the role of the instructor into their courses. Although this paper did not choose to address direct instruction compared to “facilitation,” they suggest that direct instruction still has its place in the online course environment. They see this direct instruction being integrated in the ways the instructor participates in the asynchronous discussions. It looks like the creation of information still remains planted in the hands of the instructors. There continues to be a search for a way the instructors can use their content knowledge to facilitate inquiry in the students.
Does the length of the course affect how students learn?
In 2009 Akyol, Vaughan, and Garrison published their findings on how the social, teaching, and cognitive presences are affected by the length of the course. Their research was actually quite limited which should open them up to further publications as they refine their impressions on whether a four week class compared to an eight week course has an effect on what and how students learn in online classes. With the data they collected, they determined that integration, a component of the cognitive presence, is stronger for students who are in the longer course. In addition, emotional expression, a component of the social presence, is also stronger for the longer courses. In contrast, students in the shorter course excelled more with group cohesion, a component of the social presence, and with exploration, a component of the cognitive presence. As for the teaching presence, there was no statistical difference between the two groups. This paper had so much of the research design and analysis done so poorly that I hope they redo their “experiment” with a much larger sample size and an analysis that does not make identifying student contributions for one category of a specific presence exclude other categories. For example, they decided to measure each category of the social presence based on what was said in the asynchronous discussions. This is fine, but then they added up all of the comments and decided to figure out what percentage each category made up the total number of comments. There is a bit of logic missing here because a comment that reflects on “group cohesion” should not mean that a comment was not made about “affective or emotional expression.” They are not comparable in the sense that saying something that falls in one category is a deliberate lack of saying something in another category. In addition, who is to say that there should be a specific distribution of the comments? They grouped the data this way to give an overall impression of what students say in their discussions; however, the variables that influence what students choose to say were not exactly controlled. Regardless, more research needs to be done on the influence of course duration on how and what students learn in online classes. If nothing else, they need more data if they continue to feel compelled to use a line instead of a vertical bar graph to illustrate two data points. With at least three points they can start to establish a trend and therefore there may be some logic to doing line graphs.
Research design learning resource
Douglas Archibald is another professor who publishes papers focused on the Community of Inquiry. Although his 2010 article was very short, it set him up for future publications that look at how his Research Design Learning Resource (RDLR) is effective with preparing students for doing research in the social sciences, mainly in education. He is using the Community of Inquiry Instrument, a survey that lets researchers analyze the components of asynchronous discussions with respect to the three presences, to evaluate the discussions students have while doing the RDLR program. The CoI instrument was developed by several other researchers, including Garrison, in 2008. With Archibald’s paper we see how the CoI framework is being extended to support specialized research that other professors are doing. People other than those who work directly with Garrison can choose to incorporate CoI into the paradigm they are trying to promote. Like Shea & Bidjerano, Archibald seems to want to stretch the understanding of CoI into pragmatic analysis of online learning in ways Garrison’s group has not yet examined.
Collaborative virtual environments
Hamza-Lup and Stanescu work with haptic feedback devices, which are mechanical objects connected to the computer so that a person interacting with the virtual environment can have kinesthetic feedback. They have created physics interactive lessons where students do not just play with the equations for force equals mass times acceleration. The students feel how their force affects the acceleration. The kinesthetic parameter lets a third sense join the two that are most commonly used with online discussions: vision and hearing. Now people can feel what they see or hear going on in their virtual world. Students can do an action and not only see its effect, but they can see the equations change as they alter what they are doing. It is an immediate feedback mechanism. What does this have to do with CoI? It may not be obvious, but the CoI measures what happens when the visual and audio learning styles are used for asynchronous discussions. Hamza-Lup and Stanescu want to see how the CoI framework can measure the ways haptic feedback can “enhance the ways in which students can explore content at a distance” (2010, p. 81). They don’t intend to change how CoI is interpreted or used; instead they prefer to add another dimension that can provide context for measuring the social, cognitive, or teaching presences.
Measuring metacognitive gains using CoI
The cognitive presence may be analyzed by evaluating the variances of metacognition. Akyol and Garrison (2011) recognize the cognitive presence component of CoI and therefore have their paper align with the CoI construct. Their paper focuses on the metacognitive part of the cognitive presence whereas other publications (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Garrison & Vaughan, 2008) elaborate on how the cognitive part of the inquiry deals with the factual or content part of the learning. Whereas the social presence would address issues that may be somewhat akin to netiquette, the cognitive part deals with how well concepts are explained or debated in the discussions. They found that quantity does not equal quality because clear writing can express ideas more powerfully than fluffy, unfocused statements. On the other hand, too much brevity allows for misunderstandings, which may inconsequentially lead to a more in depth discussion as more critical thinking is used to analyze what is being said, as well as for identifying what needs to be mentioned. They determine there to be three stages of metacognition: Knowledge of Cognition (KC), Monitoring of Cognition (MC), and Regulation of Cognition (RC). They monitored and evaluated transcripts of online student discussions to evaluate where students expressed knowledge of their learning or their relationship to the information being discussed (KC), when students made evaluator comments about what other people said (MC), or made comments that affected the direction of the conversation (RC).
The metacognitive partition, Knowledge of Cognition (KC), plays a role when the students state their understanding of the topic being discussed and the process by which they are discussing it. If they recognize limitations in an online discussion then that is part of the knowledge of cognition because they are aware of how an online discussion can limit spontaneous responses that might otherwise cascade in a face to face discussion. The debate over ideas and concepts falls in the category of Monitoring of Cognition (MC) because students are determining where their ideas align with their peers and where they may contradict each other. Naturally netiquette needs to be followed when debating interpretations of content so during the debate, the social presence may be involved. When certain students dominate the conversation or tend to steer its direction, then the Regulation of Cognition (RC) is happening. Not every student will regulate the flow of the content matter and ideas it generates in every discussion. There may be times when students are elected to be the facilitators of the discussion. When students behave as strong regulators of cognition, their teaching presence is being expressed. By exerting control over the discussion and guiding its outcome, students are following a constructivist approach to learning. They are not being passive participants. Instead they are influencing the direction of the discussion, thereby demonstrating behaviors desired when students do inquiry based learning.
Akyol, Z., Garrison, D.R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry. Internet and Higher Education (14), 183-190. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.01.005
Akyol, Z., Vaughan, N., & Garrison, D.R. (2011). The impact of course duration on the development of a community of inquiry. Interactive Learning Environments, 19(3), 231-246. doi: 10.1080.10494820902809147
Arbaugh, J. B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Diaz, S.R., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, J.C., & Swan, K.P. (2008). Developing a community of inquiry instrument: Testing a measure of the Community of Inquiry framework using a multi-institutional sample. Internet and Higher Education, 11, 133-136. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2008.06.003
Archibald, D. (2010). Fostering the development of cognitive presence: Initial findings using the community of inquiry survey instrument. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 73-74. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.001
Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century : a framework for research and practice. London, New York: Routledge Falmer.
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, 87-105.
Garrison, R.D., & Vaughan, N.D. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles and Guidelines (1st Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Hamza-Lup, F. G., & Stanescu, I.A. (2010). The haptic paradigm in education: Challenges and case studies. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 78-81. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.12.004
Larreamendy-Joerns, J., & Leinhardt, G. (2006). Going the distance with online education. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 567-605.
Llewellyn, D. (2002). Inquire within: Implementing inquiry-based science standards. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.
Mistra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teacher’s College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.
Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2009). Community of inquiry as a theoretical framework to foster “epistemic engagement” and “cognitive presence” in online education. Computers & Education, 52, 543-553. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.10.007
This Communication Plan is supposed to cover:
- Routine Tasks
- Critical Thinking Prompts
- Management Issues and Strategies
- Online Discussion Forum Checklist/Rubric
- One original idea, category or thought
- Check discussion forums daily to see if there are new posts.
- Check email to see if students tried to contact me.
- See who has turned in assignments. If students who did not turn in assignments are on an IEP that requests they get additional nagging, nag them.
- Check to see what is coming up for due dates and post a reminder in the news forum or similar place.
- If there is a synchronous session about to happen, check my audio and video equipment to make sure they are working properly.
- Find a parent to call with good news.
- See if there are parents to call with less than happy news.
- Grade anything that needs to be graded.
- Write feedback to myself about how well things are working so I can note what needs to be changed the next time I teach this topic.
Critical Thinking Prompts:
Starting discussions with leads like:
- What do you think about…
- How would you determine…
- Why do you agree or disagree with…
- Evaluate famous person’s quote.
- Give feedback on the paper,- post a journal article or link to website for students to read
- Why is person’s ideas realistic, successful, or other adjective?
Discussion Board Strategies
- Have students start threads so that they can have a variety of places to share their “reply” type of responses
- I liked Adam’s suggestion of using a discussion forum as a way to do a jigsaw. Have questions already posted, students pick one question to answer, then they respond to something someone else said.
- Send students on a mission to find something online. It could be a picture, an explanation, or a specific website that gives specific information about a topic. They need to come back and share what they found to the rest of the group.
- Like we do here in the EDTECH program, students can post their unique projects to a forum for others to evaluate and to give feedback or suggestions for improvement.
- If there is a challenge question, you can have the forum set up so that you can’t read anybody else’s posts until you make one yourself. So let’s say there is a dilemma and you ask students to problem solve it. Each person needs to put up their own solution before they can read everybody else’s.
- I liked Glori’s idea of doing case studies. People would propose their recommendations for their case study. Then they would examine what everybody else put up to formulate a better idea or guide their peers toward more in depth thought.
- Ethical dilemma- students brainstorm how to solve an ethical dilemma. This is similar to a case study, but far less involved.
Management Issues and Strategies:
I am not excited about managing anything- my classroom management is pure dumb luck. I would kill my kids with kindness and make them feel too guilty to cause trouble for us. Discussion boards are not something I am looking forward to managing because I expect students to avoid them. So, to motivate students to post to boards or to continue posting, I can try:
- Positive feedback with words in the forum or through a personal email.
- Bribery with extra points as an incentive to just get students to be on the board.
- Ask students to talk about themselves. Let the discussion area be student-centric at least at first. Let students take ownership of the space before you squish their brains by having them expand their content knowledge in a forum.
- Use icebreakers. Our class came up with some amazing icebreakers to get students to share something about themselves. My peers did a wonderful job of organizing work we have done in the class and collected our icebreakers here.
- Do landscape style summary posts to recognize at least one contribution from each student up to that point.
- Although I will have a list of netiquette suggestions available in our first section, I want to invite students near the beginning of the class to share reasons why netiquette is important. I would also like to discuss what bullying looks like and why it is inappropriate. Some students may not realize that what they say is interpreted as bullying so I want to make sure students are aware of how to make our space safe. In this discussion I also want to include a review of what type of information is OK to put online, what information should not be shared, and the differences between where our class discussion happens and social media in general. Within this discussion I also want to point out why “I agree” or “Hello” posts are ineffective.
- In fact, we will have to have a forum where we set some ground rules, if I have not mandated them already. If this is my students’ first time in a discussion setting, we need to condition each other on to how to come to terms with too many posts to read. Part of the learning curve with online learning is to forgive yourself for not being able to read everybody’s posts. I want to discuss strategies with students about how to choose threads to open. I want to caution them about types of posts to make or not make if you want people to open your thread. I am an expert at turning people off in discussion forums so I know very clearly what to post to stop a discussion or truncate it before its time is exhausted. I can advise my students accordingly. We will have to have an introductory forum where we play with what to do and what not to do. I also want students to collaborate on strategies of what to pay attention to in our class’s LMS setting, what can be pushed aside until you have more time to spend reading, and what could possibly be ignored for a while without it causing too much trouble. (Number 7 is somewhat of a twist on what Palloff and Pratt say in chapter 4 of Building Online Learning Communities.)
- I want to have a survey always available for students to give anonymous feedback. I will address their feedback somewhere in the course so they can see that I am taking their suggestions seriously. If they know I care about their ideas and find them to be valid, maybe they will share more of them within the real forums?
- What is in chapter 7 will be very valuable. At the moment it is very difficult for me to hypothesize what my online classroom will be like because I have yet to experience an online classroom where I have freedom to make decisions like the ones that are described in many of the samples in chapter 7. I can make a list of what students can expect from me, though.
What students can expect from me, their instructor:
- Feedback from emails or phone calls within 24 hours.
- Someone who cares about students’ academic lives.
- Someone who expects students to make mistakes and to use those mistakes as learning opportunities.
- Someone who has high expectations and therefore will push every student to succeed. I will happily listen to challenges students face and will brainstorm with you ways to conquer currently perceived obstacles.
Online Discussion Forum Checklist/ Rubric:
Discussion Board Rubric
My discussion board rubric tool:
I am using the PBS rubric and Alexis Alexander’s rubrics to guide my discussion board rubrics. These rubrics rely on students being able to physically start a new thread when they reply to a general question. There is a diagram at the end that shows a graphic for how this type of forum can work.
What is expected in a post:
- Minimum of 50 words; no maximum
- Relates to the question posed or directly reflects what someone else said in response to the question
- Unique ideas or properly cited if not unique
- Proper grammar and usage of the English language
What could make up a post:
- Additional questions that expand the breadth of what has been said
- Personal anecdotes that relate to the question posed
- Quoted responses from the readings with your interpretation of what it means
- A respectful dissension of what someone else has said
- Discuss a related issue about which you would like feedback
- Provide an additional source that contributes to this topic that was not already provided in the course material. Tell us why you think this is appropriate.
|When did you post?||Your first response starts a thread within 4 days of the forum opening. Your follow up two posts are within two weeks of the forum opening. You are not limited to only doing two follow-up posts; this is the minimum required.||Your first response does not start a thread, but your posts stimulate discussion in the forum.
Your first response happens later than 4 days after the thread starts, but it still stimulates discussion.
|Your first response does not start a thread, nor do any of your responses stimulate discussion.
Your first response happens after 4 days after the thread starts and it does not stimulate discussion.
|What did you post?||Initial post and responses are on topic, demonstrate thorough understanding of it, and stimulate other people to think.||Initial post and/or responses are somewhat on topic, demonstrate some understanding of it, and/or stimulate some productive discussion.||Initial post and/or response are off topic, demonstrate faulty understanding, and/or do not stimulate any additional productive comments because of the quality of what you posted.|
|Usefulness of posts?||What you say contributes to other people’s schema. Others can use your ideas to generate their own, or to expand their thinking. You are able to get other people to consider a perspective that they may not have already thought about.||What you say does not stop discussion, although there may only be a few people who can relate to your suggestions.||Your posts are difficult to understand, do not provide concrete ideas others could use, or are very limited with their application.|
Diagram of how forum responses can be structured:
DiscussionParticipation is a pdf copy of the diagram.
Naturally there are more than three students in the course. The idea is that each person does an initial post before writing a response post. You continue to write response posts until you run out of ideas.
One original idea, category, or thought:
Teaching presence- is it possible?
Several education scientists have published their views on how discussion forums work. They analyze what students say, when they say it, how things are said, and anticipate the learning outcomes based on this information. There are three main presences that have been described: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. Much of our discussion in this class has focused on the social presence because that is the perspective our book, Paloff and Pratt (2007), uses when they explain how they see online teaching and learning will happen. To be thorough, they mention other presences even though they do not go as in depth with them. In 523 we had the opportunity to try out the teaching presence. Although I am usually an advocate of putting as much as possible into the hands of the students, I do not advocate having students lead discussions. I know that it is essential for those who want to be discussion leaders to be trained in how to facilitate a discussion and for some people in our class, this was their first opportunity. I bet it was amazing for them and they will have learned skills they did not realize could exist. At what expense is this done to the other students?
For this class, participating in the discussions was not a priority for me because I kept doing it wrong and therefore did not get the validation I am used to having in online classes that have active discussions. I think this is my twentieth online class so I arrogantly consider myself to be very experienced with how to maneuver in discussion forums. As you can see above, I am very much in favor of giving students the responsibility of starting threads. Within their thread, they own the pathway if they choose to respond to people who reply within that thread. I see it happen often in the 506 posts- we put up our image and people offer suggestions or ask questions. A dialogue forms between the one who started the thread and those who choose to volunteer their insights on the image that was posted. In a way the original poster can assume a teaching presence, although many of the replies to the original post are actually suggestions on what to improve and how to do it. In that way, a teaching presence can be seen in many of the posts.
In courses where the instructor oversees the path of the discussion, I rarely see a teaching presence allowed to happen by anybody except for the instructor. Even in some classes where students form their own threads, when the instructor posts in the threads, sometimes the discussion becomes one on one between the instructor and the person who started the thread. For me, I do not see that as being a productive use of time and space. Instead I think instructors should use email to directly address some of their questions designed to move a discussion forward that really only push one person to volunteer ideas. I see the instructor’s responsibility to help unify the group and interpret what others have said so that the ideas can get broader and more diverse. I am not convinced that students who have not had training in techniques that can be used to broaden discussions should be made the discussion leaders. Instead, I think students should be responsible for starting threads so they can have a microcosm of the discussion under their guidance. The instructor can still step in and offer engaging questions, but they do not have to be the only ones demonstrating a teaching presence.
Teaching presence actually has two “definitions”. Both have to deal with who is guiding a discussion, but one focuses on the teacher and the other focuses on the students. For the community of inquiry, the focus is on how well the students are able to guide the discussions. The research does not measure what a good job the instructor does of being the guide on the side. It measures how often or how well students step forward to cause inquiry to happen. In other words, are students posing the questions that guide future discussion or is the only one posting questions the instructor? Be careful if you decide to research the teaching presence because some people elaborate on how an instructor can manifest their presence in the discussions rather than how to get students to take leadership roles in the discussions. When students take on the leadership roles, then they are exhibiting a teaching presence. Chapter 8 in Palloff and Pratt elaborate on how to get students involved in the class. They have sections called, “Dialogue as Inquiry” (p. 170), “Encouraging Expansive Questioning” (p. 171), and “Sharing Responsibility for Facilitation” (p. 173). Although they don’t publicize that they are giving strategies for creating a Community of Inquiry or for getting students to develop a teaching presence, their ideas in chapter 8 align with those theories.
Articles or publications that elaborate on developing a teaching presence in students:
Garrison, Randy D. and Vaughan, Norman D. (2008) Blended Learning in Higher Education.
Community of Inquiry- a website including explanations and papers
Video that addresses how to establish the course such that students are aware of the instructor- I did NOT create this video; it is just here as a resource for anybody who may be using this edublog for ideas
Teach Me High School Technology Evaluation Summary
Teach Me High School is located in an urban environment. The population is roughly 25% African American, 25% Caucasian, 25% Asian, and 25% Latino. The predominant language spoken on campus is English, however more Hispanic families are immigrating into the school. Teach Me is a charter school and by district policy, its demographic statistics mirror that of the city. By state or charter school policies, students are chosen randomly through a lottery, however to be in the lottery parents need to know the school exists and they need to formally apply. The school has roughly 425 students, about 100 students per class. About 98% of graduating seniors indicate they are going to continue at a community or four year college after graduation.
Administratively the school falls in the integrated realm because each department gets to have a say in the technology available to that department. Ultimately, though, all decisions are approved by the principal. Even though there is an Instructional Technologist on staff full time, he still has his purchases approved by the principal before they can be executed. The school moved to the Google platform, much like what Boise State does. They use Google docs to collaborate and communicate, however what happens at in-person meetings is not documented well for those who are unable to attend. The online access to all information is also somewhat convoluted and it can be difficult to find all of the documents or to remember all of the documents and databases that need to be monitored.
Attendance is taken online every block. Grades are managed by PowerSchool so students and parents have access to student grades 24/7. Teachers are given deadlines by which they need to update grades so parents and students have a somewhat continuous idea of how well the students are progressing. The school has chosen to not use a Scantron type of system which also means they have chosen to not use a computer database to automatically track multiple choice assessments. Grading is still done by hand and some teachers utilize students to grade multiple choice tests. Since grades are managed by PowerSchool, teachers are forced to adapt to a percentage-based grading system.
When teachers have long-term assignments, they will take students to the computer lab daily so students can do research. Seniors have to do a project that requires online research and also requires they make a website, however I am not aware of any formal training the teachers or the students go through to learn how to make the websites. Many teachers incorporate having students figure out things for themselves as a deliberate way of having the students be engaged with the technology. Not all teachers choose to use the computer lab. Many teachers will show PowerPoint presentations via a LCD projector. In 2010, the last year I worked at the school, no classroom had an interactive whiteboard or a clicker system to do any formative assessments.
More teachers are having students make websites, however their construction still follows a predominantly linear organization. The dynamic properties of the web do not seem to be integrated into these electronic assignments yet. Given that much of what is done for classroom use or assignments is determined by more than one person, the school is beyond the emergent stage. Since the cycle of feedback is usually limited to a few adults, the school still behaves as islands of expertise.
For support the school falls mainly in the integrated stage, however some features fall in the intelligent zone whereas others fall in the emergent phase. Since the school has one designated full time adult who knows technology on staff, much of the support the school needs is there. There are times when he is budgeted a support person who will assist with machine and software needs. Whenever something changes globally with the school’s systems, the staff goes through training during a professional development time. It is normal to have updates at every faculty meeting to help new teachers understand the policies or to let the entire staff know when changes are being done and the consequences of those changes. Some teachers are able to get training because they become affiliated with a grant that is based on using technology. Other teachers pursue learning about technology on “their own time.”
The school falls between integrated and intelligent for the connectivity. The entire school has wireless access to the Internet and email. Staff that need to bypass the filter are given a password so if they want to use a YouTube video in class they can. Specific sites are restricted due to state law or school policies. Being a charter school, there is very little communication with the district. The school has zero dependence on the district for its technology hardware or software so there is very little need to be actively involved with a district WAN.
Innovation happens between islands that are somewhat integrated. No staff member deliberately shuns technology, however not everybody chooses to embrace new technology. For example, I wanted to do asynchronous discussions with my students so our IT person made our Moodle shell accessible to my class. He had not been trained on how to use Moodle yet but he did not let that stop him from letting staff members who wanted to figure it out to try it. Sure the Moodle set-up was messy, but we were able to do an asynchronous discussion. If a teacher wants to use technology that is available, they are more than welcome to use it. The bulk of the staff, however, is still in the frame of mind where using the overhead projector counts as technology and using the LCD projector makes it easier to show PowerPoint presentations.
The school falls mainly in the integrated realm with a few spikes into intelligent. Compared to other schools I have either worked at or been involved with, they are much further along with embracing technology.
I am not so confident about this lesson as I have been with others because I look at other people’s posts in the discussion area and I’m thinking that I missed something in the directions. My listings in my reader are really short. I will have to investigate if that is a consequence of the sites I’ve chosen to subscribe to and forward to my shared reader page or if I am not sharing to my shared page in Google reader correctly.
This is the link to my Google reader shared page:
A couple things- I need to know if you can not access the shared page. If you are using your broncomail email address, you should be able to access the page.
I created an EDTECH 501 contacts group and put the entire class in it. I am only sharing my shared page with the EDTECH 501 group. I tried to start a reader in my boisestate gmail account but I could not find a link to reader, even under the More tab in the top navigation bar. Even searching the Google apps for Reader was unsuccessful so I’m using Google reader at my normal gmail account. If you see Ntropi, that is because I am ntropi (aka entropy). My husband has made me way too paranoid to make everything I do open to everybody. Until I get a better feel for how reader works, my shared page is going to be private. I wish I could create a share page for each group. If that can be done, please share with me how to do it.
I would like to be able to create a share page for each group because it would let me easily create a share page for each class / section I teach. Most 6-12 grade teachers have more than one section of students per day. You may want to do a project with one section, but not another. I would use the RSS links to help guide students toward useful information for the projects. It would let me provide structure as well as help show students which resources can be trusted online. Ideally I could set up a RSS page for each class or project- then again there are so many RSS applets that I bet there is one that will do it and I’m just too ignorant at the moment.
I can see myself use RSS like I’ve started using Twitter. I’ll read my Twitter feed to get an idea of what the most talked about topics are- cute little snippets that I can usually click on to get to the article if I want to read it. The RSS feeds are similar in that they are usually a 2 sentence summary (more or less) about the article they are linked to. I would just need to get myself in the habit of checking my RSS feed. I did add the RSS gadget to my iGoogle page so maybe I will check the links more often. I am sure there is an RSS feed app I can put on my iPad. Yep, if I did that, then I’d be sure to become addicted. In the past few weeks I’ve become very fond of getting information quickly to keep up to date without getting stuck in opinion wars or a bunch of “facts” that really don’t have much use to me at the moment.
Again, please let me know ASAP if the link does not work. Thank you!
I added a reply to my discussion post in the EdTech 501 RSS feed discussion. This is what I said:
I was answering the questions based on what was on the discussion page where we enter our responses. After looking at other people’s entries, I see that either I misunderstood something or I was not paying attention to details or something….
I now have a post at my Learning Log.
Thinking about it, I am even more confused because you can’t specify a Google reader shared page to be about a specific topic- what I mean is that I can’t have an educational resources page, a political page, a science page, etc. I have to put all of my shared links on one page.
Am I supposed to have multiple Google reader accounts? I am not sure I can even do that because I can’t even figure out how to use Google reader through my Boise State gmail account. I started a Google reader page in my personal Google account a year ago and since it is already in place, I don’t know how to change it to make it specifically about Education or how to make pages directed to specific audiences.
If you have a clue- please advise me what to do. I’m not trying to be a slacker. If anything, I’m overwhelmed this week with all that is happening (outside of this class) and I tried to post this early to be ahead of the craziness this week. Do I chalk this up as a “FAIL”?
P.S. I’ve started investigating the iPad apps and so far most of them just seem like a way to tap into Google reader. In fact, it seems to be the only reader they want to connect with. I was thinking I could get a reader account at Google and someplace else that organizes RSS feeds (which I have not found yet), but nope, it looks like all of it goes into Google’s reader. If I find differently, I’ll post a reply to this post and let you know what I found.
Update July 15:
I don’t know how it happened, but I can now use Google reader with my Boise State gmail account. This is supposedly the link for the shared page with the Boise State gmail Google Reader: https://www.google.com/reader/shared/02036754982538207421
I still can not be logged in to my firstname.lastname@example.org and my email@example.com email accounts at the same time, but I think if I open them up in different browsers, I can access both email accounts relatively simultaneously.
I plan to use this Google reader account for topics relating to Educational Technology, teaching, or online learning. I’ll keep my other Google reader account for non-career or silly things. Plus I don’t feel like I need to make groups for the Boise account because someone would probably have to know me or have the link to access this reader account. I am hoping that I don’t lose my Boise acct if I graduate. I thought the days of revoking email accounts from students as they graduated were over. (My UCDavis email account was taken from me when I graduated in 1994.)
I am still looking into how to make more than one Google Reader shared list and it appears that if I have more than one gmail account, I can do it. It would be one Google Reader shared sheet per gmail account. How many teachers want multiple gmail accounts for every class or subject they teach? I will keep trying out iPad and iPod apps to see if any of them let me classify feeds into particular shared pages. So far all I’ve found are apps that let me import my feeds that are already registered with a Google Reader account.
If I find out more, I will come back and post yet another reply to myself to let you know what I’ve found.
This is an assignment for EdTech 501. We were given 7 recommendations and were asked to evaluate them, followed by our suggestions on how to spend the money. I made a PowerPoint presentation that can be accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/ntropi/suggestions-for-state-allocations-of-technology-funds There is no audio at the SlideShare link.
In addition, I made a video in Camtasia, but it turned out to be huge. I don’t know if you’ll be able to open the video. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/MGetz501mod3
Instructions: You will explore and provide your perspective/reflection on one of the following elements, specifically how the word relates to or enables a better understanding of the definition of educational technology: (1) Study (2) Ethical practice (3) Facilitating (4) Learning (5) Improving (6) Performance (7) Creating (8) Using (9) Managing (10) Appropriate (11) Technological (12) Processes (13) Resources.
Definition of Educational Technology (2004):
According to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.
The one I pick is number 3, facilitating. Even though it may seem like I picked facilitating because it was near the beginning of the chapter, that is merely a coincidence. When I read the description that goes with facilitating, it proved to be different than what I expected. I expected to read about how as education has become influenced more by the invasiveness of technology, the teacher’s role has been replaced by that of a passive facilitator who merely monitors the students. I thought that in this facilitator scenario, teachers do not have the responsibility of determining what gets taught or how to teach it because when the technology comes in to play, the teaching is exuded through whatever media the students are using. Turns out I was wrong! It has been known to happen.
As I read the passage about facilitating, I felt like I was reading my ideal job description. The way the authors described the teachers’ actions is more like the teacher being a coach who has made it possible for students to have open ended opportunities to interact with content such that they gathered the important parts and built them into their psyche. The teacher still scaffolds the lesson, but it is done in such a way that the students take ownership of the direction of the learning and therefore they have mastery of the subject and not just a spectator’s point of view. The concept of constructivism comes into play because the students are constructing meaning. Fortunately when I was taught how to be a teacher, I was taught methods that follow the constructivist approach. It is something that I’ve tried to embody in all of the classes I’ve taught, however the factoid based tests tended to interfere with the slower methods used in constructivism. That soapbox is one I shall stand upon at a later time.
Another aspect of the facilitating philosophy is that the teachers are not seen as the oracle of knowledge. Being in a classroom is not for students to sit and listen to a teacher talk at them. Even if the teacher is using “technology” via PowerPoint slides, the point of the technology is not to make lecturing easier on the teacher. The point of the technology may be to use the PowerPoint slides to engage the students by having them take roles in explaining concepts shown on slides. Technology is used to facilitate getting the information in the students’ hands so they can determine how to use it and to make sense of it. Page 4 has a statement that sums this up perfectly, “the key role of technology is not so much to present information and provide drill and practice (to control learning) but to provide the problem space and the tools to explore it (to support learning).” There are so many teachers I’ve taught with who really need to think about that statement. Too many times they act like they are doing the right thing because they are using the technology, but in reality they are merely fooling themselves because they’ve transformed the technology to be yet another way for them to control student behavior.
I hope that I will be able to become a facilitator of student learning by using technology to help students acquire and utilize information. I still want them to guide the direction and flow, but I hope to have the opportunity to build their scaffolding. The TECH museum in San Jose, CA has done just that by creating curriculum that empowers students to find solutions to what may seem like common everyday problems. With these projects, students construct solutions to the design challenges. Most of the challenges are low-tech, meaning the students don’t have to use anything that involves electricity to do their project, however if they found a technology that helps them build their solution, it certainly would not be discouraged. The point of many of the design challenges is for students to collaborate and come up with something that exists in three dimensions. They often create a prototype, test it, and then make changes as they see the flaws that remain. This is not dissimilar to what happens in educational technology where instructional designers use technology in a ethical manner as a way to foster student projects that reflect what they learned and the means by which they learned it.
Video of someone at the TECH museum in San Jose explaining how their Design Challenge activities work. This is one way constructivist ideas can be brought into the classroom:
Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1977). The definition of educational technology. Washington, DC: AECT.
Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Definition. In Educational technology: A definition with commentary (pp. 1 – 14). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.
Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). (2004)The Definition of Educational Technology.
Washington DC: AECT, Definition and Terminology Committee