web 2.0 tools

The Community of Inquiry Framework and Online Learning Tools

As I reflect on the past two weeks of learning, I realize that there are so many web 2.0 tools out there that I have never even heard of before!  I consider myself to be pretty savvy technologically speaking, but I was blown away by how many learning tools are out there that I have never had the pleasure of playing around with.  Additionally, I had never heard of the community of inquiry framework, although I am quite familiar with John Dewey and his work.  We live in a very exciting time for education, and I cannot wait to experiment with some of the new learning tools I have discovered thanks to my edtech peers.  Most importantly, however, I now know how to evaluate learning tools in reference to the community of inquiry framework, thus ensuring I choose the correct learning tool for the task.

The community of inquiry framework refers to three presences within a virtual classroom.  The three presences are: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. Social presence references the discussion and communication portion of the course, teaching presence references how the facilitator helps students meet the learning outcomes, and the cognitive presence references how students generate the knowledge throughout the course (Borup, 2014, YouTube community of inquiry).  A blend of the three presences is more effective than a classroom with only one or two presences (Stavredes, 2011).  Additionally, selecting the right online learning tools that can be used to meet the community of inquiry framework is key.  As a future online educator, I do not want to increase my student’s cognitive overload by introducing too many online learning tools.  If the tool is able to meet the needs of all three presences, that is the tool I will most likely choose.

I found myself somewhat overwhelmed with the number of various blogging resources out there, but I do believe blogs are an effective learning log/portfolio, especially at the collegiate level.  I want to remember to allow my students some choice in how they create their blogs.  It seems as if certain blogs are used frequently, but could Twitter even be considered a blog/learning log?  Many social media tools are really blogs with character limits (Hsu & Ching, 2012).

The fact that many of the web 2.0 tools used to meet the needs of the community of inquiry framework are publicly available to anyone searching for it concerns me.  Personally, I am a bit of a private person, and I do not like having to put all of my learning “out there” for the world to see.  Even having a WordPress like this one is out of my comfort zone.  I think anonymity and collegiate blogs are possible, but random people can still find the blog and comment.  I prefer to use something like Google docs to create blog posts as I have the choice regarding access to the blog.  I will allow my students to preserve their online anonymity by providing choices such as Google docs.  And, if I do require social (public) media as a portion of the course, I will allow students to use some kind of “tag” or screen name if they so choose.  Maintaining a social presence in a course should not require students to forfeit their online privacy.

In summary, the community of inquiry framework helps me narrow my choices regarding web 2.0 tools, and I would like to share some of the tools I plan to use in my future classes.  Feel free to check them out yourself, as all of these tools are free.

  1. Kaizena – a Google docs add-on for commenting (text and voice) on documents, record lessons, and monitor skills of students.
  2. VoiceThread – a presentation tool that allows voice, text, and visual aids.  Great alternative to PowerPoint.
  3. bubbl.us – free mind-mapping tool that is simple to use.
  4. Twitter – follow and view comments from a variety of sources, while posting about your education.  Name does not have to be public, and a unique tag can be used.


Borup, J. (2014). Community of inquiry. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=273WuFa6Z04&feature=youtu.be&list=PLyRut5mNtP9mgWrxMyu5uNLe_ScfJTrP9

Hsu, Y. & Ching, Y. (2012). Mobile microblogging: Using Twitter and mobile devices in an online course to promote learning in authentic contexts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(4), 211-227. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1222

Stravredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.