Building a community of inquiry online

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Building a community of inquiry online: Deepening student experiential learning

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Workshop Leader: Professor Felicity Kelliher is a Professor of Management Practice at the School of Business, Waterford Institute of Technology Ireland. She is a member of the Irish Research Council and past-Chair of the Irish Academy of Management.

Laine Abria and Alex McKibben, fourth year Pharmacy students on 16 week experiential placement in 'role emerging education' aligned with TCD Academic practice (Sept to December 2021) will also share their experience(s) and observations.

Facilitator: Dr Cicely Roche (

This interactive workshop introduces participants to the process of creating meaningful collaborative online student learning experience through targeted teaching presence, underpinned by the educational Community of Inquiry (ECoI) framework (Garrison et al., 2000). ECoI will be used to first address course design and then course implementation (Swan et al., 2014). Tools including guided reflection and questioning instructional methods will be used to consider how a balance of direct instruction and facilitation (Nasir et al., 2018) can help guide learners’ written or audio-recorded reflections based on assigned readings and personal experience. Discipline specific questioning methods will be used to consider how learner reflections can be challenged through the inquiry lens, thereby moving away from superficial discussion responses to more meaningful dialogue and engagement with tutor and peers, ultimately leading to greater learning outcomes (Hambacher et al., 2018). Examples of both individual and group inquiry activities will help participants consider the optimum level of online teacher presence and influence. This approach can help build a community of inquiry, where learners reply to the teacher and/or peer questions through dialogue, modelling and facilitation (Liu, 2018). This thinking-encouraging approach is effective in engaging and challenging online learners, reinforced by an iterative peer feedback loop as a scalable intervention (Fillusa et al., 2018). Considerations include scaffolding, instructional design, and understanding students’ comfort level with collaborative online work (Robinson et al., 2017). Examples of how rubrics can be built to map learner inquiry skill development to programme assignments will form part of the workshop.

Please note that Professor Kelliher's presentations, at the beginning/ end of the workshop will be recorded and the recording will be made available on the National Forum and TCD websites after the event.

Learning outcomes - at the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the principles of the educational community of enquiry (ECoI) framework. 
  2. Describe the benefits and challenges of using ECoI framework in undergraduate education. 
  3. Plan for the introduction of ECoI to curriculum design. 
  4. Explore the potential for alignment of a community of Inquiry approach with experiential learning placements.

This event has been funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

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Organiser Academic Practice, Trinity College Dublin

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