Guidelines for Practice 110 111
There is no shortage of craft “know how” books oﬀering guidance on how to conduct online and blended learning experiences. However, eﬀective teaching requires more than a repertoire of techniques or recipes. These compendia of techniques provide little in the way of a coherent perspective or understanding of the interplay between the collaborative (social) and constructivist (cognitive) dimensions of a teaching and learning transaction. Nor do they provide an appreciation of the elements and unique characteristics of the online or blended learning experience. As compelling as the research evidence is in support of a community of
inquiry approach to achieve deep and meaningful learning experiences, the reality is that no two educational environments are the same. There is no exact reproduction of a community of inquiry across contexts. That is, it is not possible to reproduce the same context in which one particular approach proved successful. The goal is integrity of implementation that “allows for programmatic expression in a manner that remains true to essential empiricallywarranted ideas while being responsive to varied conditions and contexts” (LeMahieu, 2011). This requires that we think through and understand the theoretical underpinnings of any new approach. This can be greatly assisted by identifying the principles of the approach and adapting them to the particular needs and demands of the environment. Moreover, this is made considerably more eﬀective through collaborative design, testing and redesign strategies. There is no one-to-one translation with regard to educational innovation. In the ﬁrst part of this book, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) theoretical
framework described the foundational concepts, principles and organization of an e-learning experience. This chapter provides a pragmatic discussion of an online and blended learning experience. The following discussion is embedded in the CoI framework that provides a coherent context to understand the purposes and functions of collaborative constructivist methods and techniques. The framework also reﬂects the dynamics of a community of inquiry. Therefore, ﬂexibility in terms of goals and methods must also be part of the transaction as the educational experience develops. Inherent is
also the recognition of the need for connection between learning activities and learning outcomes. Learning activities must be congruent with intended outcomes but context dependent in terms of the learners, subject matter and technology. This complex and challenging task of designing, facilitating, and directing worthwhile learning activities is the focus here.