Stephen Downes nicely ties ideas of ownership, control, learner centricity and choice from PLE’s into notions of the mutlimedia and readwrite nature of web 2.0. Great stuff! Wish I had been there!.

I was especially interested in his update of the Community of Inquiry (COI) model that Randy Garrison and I created some years ago. This model was done to help us conceptualize and measure learning communities that we were building using computer conferencing and analyzing the results with transcript analysis. This work has spawned quite a few studies and maybe just a few insights into text based and asynchronous learning (see )

In particular the Venn diagram (below) we created has been used as a conceptual tool in many studies.

COI Model

Community of Inquiry Model

Stephen provides the first major edits to the model in 5 years as follows:

COI Model with Downe's edits

COI Model with Downes Update

The COI exists within the larger context of the educational semantic web. I also envisioned the larger Net with all of its social, teaching and cognitive stimulation and support as being outside – but directly linking in to the “three presences”. Visualized as the whole the model immersed in the flow of the Net. Stepehn’s additions make that more clear and explicitly site the encumbusing effect of the Net on learning and living these days.

The second change substitutes ‘self’ for the ‘educational experience’ in the Centre of the COI. This is similar to the way in which a psychologist traditionally views the world through the lens of the individual psyche, whereas the sociologist tends to look at life through a social lens. We focused the COI model on the social because it was meant to explicate the social and paced environment emerging in CMC based formal education courses. In this context the ‘educational experience” was our focus and we assumed that creating a stimulating, supporting and challenging environment (by noting the three presences) would create an environment for the ‘self’ to grow and learn. I am sympathetic to the need for a great more individual freedom than afforded by most formal education systems. (see Anderson, 2006) But we also need to create and visualize the ways in which communities of inquiry and especially the type that people pay for (formal learning). The freedom of relationship in which learners are empowered to create the type of social relationship they find most beneficial is of critcial importance to many learners and too great an emphasis on the self, CAN diminish the energy needed to sustain powerful learning relationships Untangelling the social from the individual has been a very knotty challenge (see ideas on social cognition and especially Brown and Dugoid’s Social Life of Information.). I don’t have any problems seeing the individual at the centre of the community, but I’m not sure it really helps us to focus on the networked social learning that the model is designed to inspire and measure. Being explicit about the social expereince of a cohort based system and maximizing the input of various members of the community is a very powerful way to learn. The judicious use of social sofwatre will allow these groups to form more spontaneously and be supported over different boundaries of time and space, so there is a sense in which the individual will be able to create the mix of social and self that most meets their needs at any given moment. But many will still want to frame at least their formal learning in a social context

We haven’t been going to pubs and churches for hundreds of years for nothing, when it is cheaper and more convenient to drink (or worship) at home!!

Thanks for the great slides Stephen.