Creating a Community of Inquiry in Higher Education: A Practical Example and Lessons Learned

By Vanessa Ann Cooper.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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The purpose of this paper is to report reflections on the development of successful “Community of Inquiry” in a post-graduate course in Knowledge Management and to demonstrate how theories and concepts of Knowledge Management can be used to underpin such a community, inform educational practice and facilitate student-learning outcomes.

The paper describes the design of holistic curricular, learning resources and assessment and feedback strategies, guided by Garrison & Vaughn’s (2008) framework for blended learning in Higher Education. Key lessons learned over the past five years (ten semesters) are reported, including the importance of flexible, work-relevant curricular and assessment; feed forward and feedback strategies and student co-contribution to learning. These lessons serve as useful guidance for educators who may consider cultivating a Community of Inquiry in their future teaching practice.

While the study is limited to a case study of one course taught by a single academic, and thus cannot be generalized, the findings offer a useful foundation for future study and practice in wider settings.

Keywords: theme: learning in higher education, Community of Inquiry, Higher Education

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.95-107. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 505.603KB).

Dr. Vanessa Ann Cooper

Senior Lecturer, School of Business Information Technology and Logistics, RMIT University, Melbourne, Vic, Australia

Dr. Vanessa Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in RMIT University’s School of Business Information Technology and Logistics. Her research and teaching practice centers on the need for students undertaking higher education in information technology, to have a command of contemporary business approaches. This stems from her industry experience as a Systems Engineer and recognition of the need for information technology and business professionals to create, store, transfer, apply and manage knowledge to maximize business outcomes. These issues remain central to her research and teaching practice, and support a scholarly approach to learning and teaching. Vanessa has published widely in the field of Information Systems with a particular focus on IT services and knowledge management, and more specifically, knowledge transfer. She has won numerous learning and teaching awards, including the RMIT’s 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.