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A Critique of the Community of Inquiry Framework

JDE Volume 26, Number 1, ISSN 0830-0445 Publisher: Athabasca University Press


This conceptual paper critiques the popular Community of Inquiry framework (CoI) that is widely used for studying text-based asynchronous online discussion (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). It re-examines the three main aspects of CoI (cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence) and their relationship, and further highlights the specificity and complexity of online discussion forums. The paper explains that the multi-functionality of communicative acts which often combine instruction, knowledge construction, and social interaction in a single utterance. It further argues that all online expressions are inherently social. It clarifies the confused relation of cause and effect in CoI and specifies the leadership functions of teaching presence and how they are intertwined with social and cognitive presence. A game metaphor and Gadamer's notion of “play” are employed to explain the dynamics of online discussion forums. The article concludes with a discussion of the practical and methodological implications of its main arguments. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)


Xin, C. (2012). A Critique of the Community of Inquiry Framework. The Journal of Distance Education / Revue de l'ducation Distance, 26(1),. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved March 18, 2019 from .

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Cited By

  1. Tele-proximity: Tele-community of Inquiry Model. Facial Cues for Social, Cognitive, and Teacher Presence in Distance Education

    Chryssa Themeli, Lancaster University; Anna Bougia

    The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning Vol. 17, No. 6 (Dec 06, 2016)

  2. From Presences to Linked Influences Within Communities of Inquiry

    Susi Peacock, Queen Margaret University; John Cowan, Professor emeritus, Herriot Watt University

    The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning Vol. 17, No. 5 (Sep 26, 2016)

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