Examining Learners’ Interaction in an Open Online Course through the Community of Inquiry Framework

Mohsen Saadatmand [mohsen.saadatmand@helsinki.fi], Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Siltavuorenpenger 5, P.O. Box 9, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, Lars Uhlin [lars.uhlin@ki.se], Unit for Medical Education, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institute, Berzelius väg 3, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Maria Hedberg [maria.hedberg@ahu.lu.se], Lotta Åbjörnsson [lotta.abjornsson@ahu.lu.se], Division for Higher Education Development, Lund University, P.O. Box 117, SE221 00 LUND, Sweden, Maria Kvarnström [maria.kvarnstrom@ki.se], Unit for Medical Education, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institute, Berzelius väg 3, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract

Open online courses are becoming more prevalent at local level and for and professional development objectives. Proper instructional design combined with use of online tools can promote learner interaction in online environments. Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, this study aimed at examining learners’ interaction and their perceptions of teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence in an open online course offered for professional development in three Swedish universities. The course was free and open to all, attracting participants from all over the world. In order to understand the online interactions of the course, three presences of CoI were matched to three types of interaction (Moore, 1989). Data were collected through a slightly revised version of the CoI instrument and open-ended questions were added. Survey results showed that participants had high perceptions of the three presences in the course. Results also yielded significant relationships between teaching presence and cognitive presence, as well as social presence and cognitive presence. The findings suggest that deploying a set of online tools combined with appropriate pedagogical approaches in designing open online courses could foster learner interaction especially learner-content interaction and cognitive presence.

Abstract in Swedish

Öppna nätkurser kan anpassas till ett mindre format för ändamålet kompetensutveckling. En genomtänkt kursdesign i kombination med digitala verktyg stödjer  samspelet mellan kursdeltagare i en digital lärandemiljö. I denna studie användes Community of Inquiry (CoI) som utgångspunkt för att studera interaktionen mellan kursdeltagare och lärmiljön och dess innehåll i en öppen nätkurs som erbjuds för kompetensutveckling till lärare på tre svenska universitet. Kursen var gratis och öppen för alla och samlade deltagare från hela världen. För att åskådliggöra samspelet i kursen matchades de tre typerna av närvaro i CoI med tre sorters interaktioner mellan kursens aktörer (Moore, 1989). Data samlades in genom en reviderad version av CoI-enkäten med tillägg av öppna frågor. Resultaten visade att deltagarna uppfattade en hög grad av närvaro i alla tre dimensionerna och visade också signifikanta samband mellan pedagogisk och kognitiv närvaro, såväl som mellan social och kognitiv närvaro. Fynden antyder att genomtänkt pedagogisk utformning och användning av digitala verktyg vid design av öppna nätkurser kan främja interaktion, särskilt mellan deltagare och kursinnehåll, och kognitiv närvaro.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, internet, collaborative learning, learning management system, MOOC, interaction, LMS,

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