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Community Without Compromise: Cultivating Interactivity in Online and Blended Learning Environments Tracy W. Smith and Emory Maiden Appalachian State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Community Without Compromise: Cultivating Interactivity in Online and Blended Learning Environments Tracy W. Smith and Emory Maiden Appalachian State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Community Without Compromise: Cultivating Interactivity in Online and Blended Learning Environments Tracy W. Smith and Emory Maiden Appalachian State University

2 Survey Activity Cognitive presence - the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained personal reflection and shared discourse. Social presence - the degree to which participants in computer-mediated communication feel affectively connected to each other. Teaching presence is the instructor’s design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.

3 Session Goals Articulate rationale for creating community Describe strategies for cultivating community Identify tools for building community and enabling communication

4 Why Community Matters Research Student Needs Teacher Needs Institutional Needs

5 Research Says… Psychological distance, or rather lack of community, in the online learning environment, can result in student isolation, frustration, boredom, overload, and low course completion rates (Hara & Kling, 2000; Northrup, 2002; Rovai et al., 2005).

6 On the other hand… Ascough (2007), Cho, Gay, Davidson, and Ingraffea (2007), as well as Pate, Smaldino, Mayall, and Luetkehans (2009) found that creating online social communities creates an encouraging environment of shared activities that results in deeper learning, higher final course grades, and successful online courses.

7 Functioning in a community can enhance learning, improve academic success, and contribute to persistence in higher education (Hargis, 2005; Kember, 1987; Powers & Mitchell, 1997; Shea, Sau Li, & Pickett, 2006). Yuen (2003) asserts that a learning community can help individual learners “achieve what they cannot on their own” (p. 155).

8 Transactional Distance A psychological and communication space to be crossed. If learning outcomes in distance education are to be maximized, transactional distance needs to be minimized or shortened.

9 Transactional Distance “I believe that the main objective in either teaching environment is for the subject matter to be so inspirational, exciting, and challenging that students think about it beyond the time in class, whether on campus or online” (Bender, p. 9).

10 Student Needs Clear expectations and procedures Interaction with classmates and instructor Communication

11 “…the professor has done a great job at having a voice in our conversations” “great way to have virtual conversations with my peers” “design of the course makes sure we all interact with each other”

12 “There was NO participation…I could have gotten the same information reading the book on my own.” “No communication, unorganized. Almost as if he forgot he had an online class.”

13 Teacher Needs What is sacred to you about your teaching? What does your best teaching look like? What do you worry that you will have to compromise as more of your classes or class meetings go online?

14 Community of Inquiry CoI, a process model of online learning, represents the online educational experience as arising from the interaction of three presences: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. At the heart of the CoI framework is the idea that community, critical reflection, and knowledge construction are integral to learning, especially online learning. https://coi.athabascau.ca/

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16 Cognitive presence - the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained personal reflection and shared discourse. Social presence - the degree to which participants in computer-mediated communication feel affectively connected to each other. Teaching presence is the instructor’s design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes. Each core element on its own is complex and multidimensional – and then the three together are interdependent. In a single activity, online teachers and students can exploit many aspects of the core elements to cultivate a sense of community.

17 Balance

18 Tools vs. Strategies Discussion Forum/Webinar as a tool (how) Discussion Forum/Webinar as a strategy (why) Screencasting, Skype, Google+, Questionnaire, Quizzes

19 Beginnings: Establishing and Sustaining Community Instructor immediacy initiating discussions asking questions using self-disclosure addressing students by name using inclusive personal pronouns repeating contacts with students over time responding frequently to students offering praise communicating attentiveness

20 Beginnings/Activities Virtual coffee shop – Welcome Message Instructor Introductory Videos (photos, visual cues, “story”) Questionnaires Web Conferencing – Synchronous

21 Virtual Coffee Shop

22 Beginnings/Activities Virtual coffee shop – Welcome Message Instructor Introductory Videos (photos, visual cues, “story”) Questionnaires Web Conferencing – Synchronous

23 Sustaining Virtual Coffee Shop – Referencing participants’ interests, questions Personal s Virtual Office Hours Synchronous Meetings Discussion Forum and Webinars to provide “in- process” feedback on assignments – Screen sharing and student ownership

24 Ending/Transitioning How does the content of this course matter going forward? How does community continue? Harvesting

25 Goal Setting and Discussion Which type of PRESENCE would you like to increase in your online teaching? What might be a first step or strategy you would like to try?

26 References - 1 Ascough, R. (2007). Welcoming design: Hosting a hospitable online course. Teaching Theology and Religion, 10(3), Bender, T. (2012). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning: Theory, practice, and assessment. Sterling, VA: Stylus. Cho, H., Gay, G., Davidson, B., & Ingraffea, A. (2007). Social networks, communication styles, and learning performance in a CSCL community. Computers and Education, 49, Hara, & Kling. (2000). Students’ distress with a web-based distance education course. Information, Communication, and Society, 3, Hargis, J. (2005). Collaboration, community, and project-based learning: Does it still work online? International Journal of Instructional Media, 32(2), Kember, D. (1987). A longitudinal process model of drop out from distance education. The Journal of Higher Education, 60(3),

27 References - 2 Northrup, P.T. (2002). Online learners’ preferences for interaction. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(2), Pate, A., Smaldino, S., Mayall, H.J., & Luetkehans, L. (2009). Questioning the necessity of nonacademic social discussion forums within online courses. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(1), 1-8. Powers, S.M., & Mitchell, J. (1997). Student perceptions and performance in a virtual classroom environment. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Rovai, A., Wighting, M.J., & Liu, J. (2005). School climate. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 6(4), Shea, P., Li, C.S., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. Internet & Higher Education, 9 (3), Yuen, A.H. (2003). Fostering learning communities in classrooms: A survey research of Hong Kong schools. Education Media International, 40,


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