Developing a Sense of Community in Blended Learning EnvironmentsCOHERE Conference Bryan Braul – E-Learning SpecialistOctober 18th – 19th, 2012 Learning Engagement Office, Faculty of ExtensionCalgary Alberta University of Alberta Canada’s Collaboration for Online Higher Education and Research
Presentation Overview1. How education is evolving with technology and why the development of community is becoming more important2. “Community of Inquiry” Model which helps clarify the process of community development3. How to develop a sense of community in our blended learning courses
Evolution of Computer Technology
Keeping Up With the Future Open Courses Massive Open Online Course MOOC3D Virtual World Education
Massive Open Online Courses Massive Open Online Course MOOC
In the Information Age• Universities are more than the knowledge thatresides within its faculties• Places where students congregate for a commonpurpose•We are part of a dynamic, living process oflearning – a process that forms community basedon learning.
Levels of Engagement Unengaged Students Engaged StudentsDevelopment of a “learning community” where students become an integral part of the teaching process
Learning with Others Research tells us that we learn best when we are engaging and interacting with others (Rovai, 2001; Schwier, 2011; Swan, & Ice, 2010; Vygotsky, 1978). Social Constructivism – we construct our knowledge piece by piece, building on things that we have previously learnt – and we do this with others through social interactions (Anderson, 2008)
Definition of Community“…social network marked by participation,trust, shared interests and participation, trust, shared interests and values, shared responsibility, norms and rituals, and by the ability to embrace differences while forming a group identity” (Rovai, 2001).
Community of Inquiry Model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) Construction of meaning; Students Cognitive Presence Social Presence are engaging with the content of the course, exchanging information, connecting ideas and applying conceptsSelection of content andinstructional design; The projection of individualdevelop learning activities characteristics to the community;and assessments; help group cohesion through openstudents build content communication; emotional expression;knowledge and development of trust/respect Teaching Presenceunderstanding; encourageinteraction
The Interaction of the Elements Social Supporting Cognitive Presence Discourse Presence Educational Experience Setting Selecting Climate Content Teaching Presence (Structure and Process)(Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000)
How can we develop a sense of community in blended learning environments?• Focus on the online component of blended learning• Start with “Teaching Presence” and connect it to Cognitiveand Social Presence• Use examples from Extension courses I support• Open the discussion – your ideas, experiences for buildingcommunity in your learning environments
Three Strategies• The details matter - Instructional Design in your onlinecomponent•Establishing Social Presence – starting off on the rightfoot• In-class evolution of online discussions – they don’tgrow without care and nurturing
Establishing Social Presence• Assumption: we learn better together• Important to provide ways to get to know each other.
Growing Online DiscussionsIn-class communication: fastpaced, spontaneous, less structured, influence bynon-verbal cues, good for brainstorming ideasOnline communication: usuallyasynchronous, timefor reflection, critical thinking, introverted learnersmay participate more, encourage rigor anddiscipline
Examples from Extension Class Support and Agreement at the start of the course: “You ask a very interesting question and I agree with what you said…” “The question Kim poses about Facebook is an important one and Mary is right…” “You raise several very good points…”
Developing Trust• Explicitly state rules/guidelines of engagement• Create a safe place to try out ideas• Monitor and participate in the discussions often;interject if needed
Examples from Extension Class At the end of the course: “I agree with some of your points, but I think I would have looked at it a different way…” “I guess I would think about the first article we read that contradicts your last point…” “You raise several very good points in your analysis, but I think when Erika mentioned privacy, she was referring to something else…”
Closing RemarksIt’s more about the people; and less about the technology