Community of inquiry in the virtual classroom

Community of inquiry is a key pedagogical goal of the course. I do not think that teaching is all about delivering fixed knowledge. Rather, I believe that teaching should be a part of the collective learning process. To achieve this goal, I will deploy three interconnected activities for teaching, cognitive and social presence.

Teaching presence: a short lecture video will be a tool for teaching presence in the virtual classroom. The lecture will be brief (no more than 15 mins) given the challenge to maintain students concentration on a lecture “video.” Students will read the reading materials ahead, and a lecture video will be a chance to expand students’ understanding of the concepts, themes and debates from the readings. For example, in a week that we discuss about pornography and gender, a lecture video will introduce secondary materials including a blog post written by a college female student who works as a porn actor, a website that promote ‘pornography for women’ and an episode from Law and Order that is about a pornography and rape. Such multi-media materials will promote students to develop, extend and contest their own thoughts about the topic discussed. Then, the lecture will end with one question, which would be a take-away “question.”

Cognitive presence: an analytical commentary, which follow a lecture video, will enable students to formulate their thoughts about the topic discussed. To make the assignment as an active learning process, I will ask them, for example, to visit the website for “pornography for women” and analyze the website in relation to political agendas that the website promotes such as women’s sexual desire, ethical porn production, diverse bodies and inclusive sexual acts.

Social presence: I will use an introductory voice thread and peer review responses to enhance social presence in my online teaching. An introductory voice will work to build a sense of community in the beginning of the course. In addition to basic information about themselves such as name, major, experience of previous women’s studies courses, etc., I will ask them some stories about themselves like something weird about themselves. My introductory voice thread will set up for a tone. Such stories will contribute to building a sense of community. More importantly, such stories will be an entry for me to present a direction of the course, which questions normativity and invites different ways of seeing, thinking and practicing. In addition to an introductory voice thread, peer review responses will encourage students to engage with each other throughout the course. I will assign two types of discussion in my online teaching: one type of discussion should include and speak to key concepts, themes, and debates of the weekly lessons, and the other kind would be more spontaneous and volunteer engagements among students without such references. Utilizing these two kinds of discussion, I seek to animate students’ engagements both in social and intellectual conversations.

Given an overwhelming amount of information that is available on the internet, I strongly believe that college leveled online teachings should encourage and work with students to make connections that include intellectual relationships among students, critical linkages between knowledge and their lived experience, and engagements in the world we live in. The principle of and techniques for community of inquiry mentioned above will strengthen students’ ability to think collectively, critically and creatively both in and beyond the classroom.

One Reply to “Community of inquiry in the virtual classroom”

  1. I love how you keep turning us away from the pitfalls of the banking model with your focus on collaborative learning. The integration of mini-lectures with analytical assignments look very promising here. With social presence, I’m curious what foundational work do you need to do to prepare students to work with the content as scholars? Do you find you need to discuss triggering content or design discussion rules in the course? I’m asking because I’m still trying to figure this out for myself when I teach “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” or “Goblin Market.”

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