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    Avatar of Shauna Elliott
    Shauna Elliott

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the “Genius Hour” as I had never heard of it before. I am also glad that you highlighted the difficulties of executing such an initiative with elementary-aged students.

    A few years back, one of the grade three teachers at my school tried a new initiative, somewhat similar to Genius Hour, however students were not required to use technology. Some students took interest in theater, others in music, etc. There was one group who decided to complete a power-point slideshow (on the Montreal Canadians, not that it matters) and I remember when the teacher shared her experiences about the overall project she emphasized that the “tech” group required the most assistance and really was unable to work independently at all. I believe this is part of the reason why primary and elementary teachers are sometimes hesitant to implement technology, particularly individual-based projects, with these young children in their classrooms.

    Interesting discussion!


    Avatar of Shauna Elliott
    Shauna Elliott

    1. Why is the COI an important part of blended learning?

    The COI is designated as an essential component of blended learning because it is directly concerned with the formation of knowledge which is achieved through effective delivery of the three elements included in the framework; social, cognitive and teaching presence. In my opinion, the COI framework should be easier to achieve in a blended learning course as opposed to strictly face-to-face or online because instructors have more opportunities to incorporate the three elements.

    2. The COI framework is made of three elements social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. How would you implement these elements in your practice and design of learning materials?

    Social: Initially when I would hear the term “social presence” I would immediately think of people socializing in a face-to-face setting. However, after completing numerous online courses I view the term differently. Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer (1999) define social presence “as the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into a community of inquiry” (pg. 51). Therefore by actively participating in discussions and Adobe Connect sessions, students are fulfilling the social element of the COI framework in an online course and/or online component of the blended course. When designing learning materials I would be sure to provide endless opportunities for students to voice their knowledge and opinions and in turn, react and respond to their peer’s views as well.

    Cognitive: I believe that an excellent way to construct meaning and internalize knowledge is through reflection. Reflecting on materials, lessons, questions, etc. is important for both educators and students and it would be a practice that I would encourage my students to do as well as myself.

    Teaching: Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer (2001) define “teaching presence as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes” (pg. 5). I believe those three words are key when achieving teaching presence; design, facilitate and direction. As the instructor, I would include materials which promote both social and cognitive processes in my students. Once confident with the chosen materials, I would take on the role of a facilitator for my students and guide their learning with questions to provoke their critical thinking as well as constructive feedback.

    3. Thinking about the last question (#2) can you briefly talk about an online/distance/blended learning course that you have taken that fully incorporates these elements or if yourself have developed and taught courses using a COI framework. What did learn about the experience and what would you do differently?

    Personally I have never developed and taught a course using the COI framework but I have been an online student numerous times. I have completed online courses both in my Undergraduate and Graduate programs. I can certainly say that the majority of Grad courses have incorporated the three elements of the COI framework very well. In my experiences, instructors provided students with pertinent readings and tasks which allowed them opportunities to voice their opinions openly and freely, use critical thinking skills to respond to questions, provide constructive feedback to peers and instructors, and practice reflection.



    Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing environment. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5 (2).

    Garrison, D.R., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Vaughan, N.D., (2013). Community of Inquiry Web Site. Available online from

    Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Archer, W. & Garrison, D. R., (1999). Assessing social presence in
    asynchronous, text-based computer conferences, Journal of Distance Education, 14 (3), 51-70.