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The Community of Inquiry framework, originally developed to describe learning activity in threaded online discussion forms, has had a relatively long and illustrious history – particularly as far as timelines for e-learning and digital media are concerned. This framework has its origin in a series of articles authored by Garrison, Anderson, Rourke and others around the turn of the century. These researchers understood ‘educational communit[ies] of inquiry’ as being ‘group[s] of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding’ (Garrison, 2011, p. 15). These same researchers believed that deep and meaningful learning occurs in such a community through the balanced interaction of three communicative elements or forms of ‘presence’: cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence. The model is also based on a cyclical process of experiential inquiry, which begins with a triggering event or question, and proceeds through processes of exploration, integration and resolution. The model that incorporates these processes and ‘presences’ has subsequently been developed in a number of different directions, particularly as evidenced in the design and application of a Community of Inquiry Survey (e.g. Aubaugh et al, 2008), and in the publication of two monographs focusing on e-learning and blended learning: E-Learning in the 21st Century: a framework for research and practice (Garrison, 2011) and Blended Learning in Higher Education: framework, principles, and guidelines (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008).

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This document was originally published by Symposium Journals, Ltd. in E-Learning and Digital Media. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.2304/elea.2014.11.1.1