23 Annand, “Social presence within the community of inquiry framework”


Annand, D. (2011). Social presence within the community of inquiry framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(5), 40-–56. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v12i5.924


Online learning and educational experience is impacted by variables with in the Community of Inquiry framework. The Community of Inquiry consists of three main areas: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. These areas intersect with each other and create the elements of the educational experience (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). Annand explains that Higher order thinking and learning is better accomplished through a variety of learner interactions. The categories, social presence and teacher presence, with in the framework need to be adjusted to accommodate group based learning vs individualized learning. Social presence and teacher presence need to have more research and findings to support users of the framework for both individual and collaborative work.

Key points

  • Online Learning as defined by Garrison (2009a), paced, cohort-based, electronic classroom model; allows independence of the learner but often restricts interaction among instructor and learners, and learners with learners.
  • The Community of Inquiry framework is popular but does not currently adequately support online education practices.
  • Students do not equivalate group interactions to valuable work with in an online setting. They do value the sharing of ideas/ views and collaboration but this looks different than it does in a face to face setting.  This social presence is seen as valuable however, if an online learning experience has great social presence it does not always equate to learning.
  •  Learners report deeper learning when direct instruction and individual assignments are completed with timely and specific feedback from instructor was provided.  Instructor to student interactions are vital.
  • Social presence is least important, teaching and cognitive presence is the most important to learners and learning outcomes.
  • “non-collaborative teaching functions may significantly cause observed cognitive presence effects, whereas social presence effects other than those produced by teaching presence may be minimal.” (Annand, D. 2011)
  • The Community of Inquiry framework need to change to consider the influence of group based social presence on the  learning process to reflect the change in online learning from web-based to today’s norm.


Online learning needs to have a different structure than the community of inquiry framework because the shift in how web courses are delivered. The  interactions between the learner and other learners, and learner and instructor are important and the influence on the learning process.

Discussion questions

  1. What is valuable to you as an online learner? Does that align with the researchers perspectives?  Why or Why not?
  2. Look at the Community of Inquiry Framework, what kinds of decisions can you make to positively impact the educational experience?
  3. How could the Community of Inquiry framework be improved upon to address the concerns in the article?

Additional resources


  • Annand, D. (2011). Social presence within the community of inquiry framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(5), 40–56. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v12i5.924
  • Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923640109527071.


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