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The Development of an On-line Community of Inquiry

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting,


A number of present-day authors have noted factors that can work against or pose a threat to a sense of community, including the American propensity for individualism, industrialization, and the growth of mass communication and information technology. Some scholars have begun to suggest that schools, in particular, should get beyond mere contractual relations of barter to a relationship characterized by commitment and mutual obligations. This paper describes how a program at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) actually sought to use information technology in the form of computer conferencing to construct a community of teachers. The NCCAT program, called "Connected to the World," featured a 3-day residential seminar with attendees taking part in interactive electronic mail discussions both 2 months before and up to 1 month after. The program exemplified NCCAT's history of aiming to foster collegiality, inquiry, lifelong learning, and critical thinking among K-12 teachers. Only about half of the seminar attendees were able to participate in the online portion, but the other half were mailed printouts of comments from the listserv and had their own comments posted to the list. Three main topics emerged on the list, including how to deal with a student who tampered with a classmate's computer files and plagiarized her work, how the Internet will change how students and teachers work, and who should make decisions about age-appropriateness of information and library materials. The discussions that unfolded revealed that although computer conferencing is not a panacea for teacher development, it can foster awareness of wider issues in information technology, bring to attention multiple avenues for effectiveness in teaching many kinds of students, and aid reasoned, dialogic consideration of issues that are often given superficial treatment in the popular press. (Contains 23 references.) (BEW)


Rud, A.G. (1995). The Development of an On-line Community of Inquiry. Presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 1995. Retrieved October 19, 2019 from .

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