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Better work on that then…

This module will be about the roles of community in learning. The successful development of learning communities plays a significant role in student engagement and overall success. We need to consider how to develop and foster that sense of community as a key part of the educational design process. Given the distributed nature of online education, we will need to adapt to providing new opportunities for interaction and development of online learning communities.

The Community of Inquiry

The Community of Inquiry framework describes a learning process in which individuals collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding of a subject.

The learning experience is created through the development of three interdependent elements, which are social, cognitive and teaching presence.

Most relevant to the current topic of learning communities is social presence, which is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

The Community of Inquiry. Image Credit: Rawia Inaim. Adapted from:, via KPU: Learning to Learn Online. Licence: CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike)

Here are some of the communities I am part of at the University:

  • School of GeoSciences (especially today as I notice I have just been assigned to a group activity with the Head of School…)
  • Professional Services within GeoSciences (also more aware of that today as we had our Professional Services Away Day yesterday)
  • GeoSciences IT Services (the GITS) – my team, who I share a coffee break with most days, and really enjoy their conversation and general putting of the world to rights
  • Student Services. I have e-Learning meetings with some of this team, and also share an office with some of them
  • Marketing – I’m not in their team but I share an office with some of them too and enjoy their company
  • The people in my office (though I think I’ve mentioned them all already
  • College of Science and Engineering, which includes GeoSciences. I share a building, bathroom and kitchen with the people that work for the College as a whole but I don’t really know them.
  • King’s Buildings campus. I’ve enjoyed going to the occasional event here and try to make the most I can out of my gym membership here, though it’s not usually as often as I should go!
  • The University as a whole – by far the biggest organisation I’ve ever worked for.
  • My Software Carpentry class – a mixed group of staff and students who attend a computer programming course on Tuesday mornings at the moment
  • And as of recently, my online classmates in this course, who I haven’t met at all, apart from the head of GeoSciences, apparently, who occasionally borrows the desk next to me!


(Image: Ken Whytock, via Flickr. License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) )