Use Digital Communication Tools to Enhance Online Communities of Inquiry

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Teaching Online Pedagogical RepositoryOrlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning


Learning online may be an isolating experience which may lead to student attrition. Digital communication tools may help to enhance online communities of inquiry and address students’ feelings of social connectedness, perceived instructor presence, cognitive engagement, and persistence. Research shows that faculty use of various new media and communication tools (including social media) may foster feelings of community and increase student participation (Brownson, 2014; Hung & Yuen, 2010; Santovec, 2006; Silius, Kailanto & Taervakari, 2011).

This strategy demonstrates how a variety of digital communication tools (e.g. text messaging; synchronous communication tools such as Adobe Connect; and online forums) can be used among an online undergraduate cohort during their first term (and beyond) to enhance online communities of inquiry (COIs), and in turn, students’ feelings of social connectedness, cognitive engagement, persistence, and program satisfaction.