Unit 3 Reflection

I found Unit three’s subject material (Reaching the Online Learner ) to be fascinating. I have been involved in and facilitated Communities of Inquiry (CoI) before and not realised I was taking part in one in the past – like my group project for the Student led seminar for Unit 2. It’s very easy to overlook the three presences involved that contribute towards a successful educational experience and CoI.

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Out of the three factors I prioritised Social as the most important as I felt based on the associated reading (Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century) and my own experience this creates a feeling of community and belonging. This is very important when trying to create a vibrant and successful CoI, otherwise and to paraphrase Kear, Karen (2010), if there is a low social presence text based resources and activities like asynchronous discussion forums can suffer and this can lead to feelings of isolation for learners. The other drawback to text based communication is the lack of visual cues to quote Garrison et al. (2010) “Communication theorists have drawn considerable attention to the lack of non – verbal communication cues that are considered to be crucial in forming collaborative relationships”. I think the steps taken so far in the BOE help address the “social presence” issues, for example we have been encouraged to introduce ourselves and upload a picture so people feel as though they are communicating with a ‘real’ person and not just a computer. This good practice has created a vibrant and engaging online community where ideas are discussed and knowledge is exchanged.

I think any lecturer/teacher would struggle without a social presence – there would no entity for them to teach or guide, equally if you have no social or teacher presences then the cognitive presence is redundant as it requires interaction with content. Undoubtedly you require all three or should that be four presences to have a successful CoI, the social presence and engagement of learners, the guidance, support and design that a teacher offers and the cognitive presence to interact with content.

In the above paragraph I mentioned four presences; the other presence which I’ll now discuss is emotional presence. I wonder how much of an impact emotions have on my studies and taking part in an online course? I would certainly like to think that my emotions never get the better of me, I’m not saying we all act like Mr Spock – but I wonder if emotions govern our motivation, self-regulation and academic achievement as the paper produced by (Rienties & Rivers, 2014) suggests? In my opinion this is where the research into this becomes a bit vague, surely we’re all individuals and therefore have different emotions and temperament which can’t be put under one singular banner of emotional presence. For me personally this particular area requires a bit more research for it to be applied to a successful CiO.

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I very much enjoyed this class led unit, and analysing and reflecting on it as well. I’m looking forward to see where the next class led seminar takes us.

References:

Kear, Karen (2010). Social presence in online learning communities. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010, 3-4 May 2010, Aalborg, Denmark.

Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century. Routledge-Falmer.

Rientes, B. R., & Rivers, B. A. (2014). Measuring and understanding learner emotions: Evidence and prospects (Review 1, pp. 1-16, Rep.). Learning Analytics Community Exchange.

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