Week 2: The learning community and critical reflection


When Monday 1 August, 5.30pm til 7.30pm
Where On campus: S408

Online: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

What  We’ll cover

  • An introduction to products, programs and services
  • Community of Inquiry and the Connected Learning Analytics (CLA) Toolkit
Can’t make it to class? You’ll be able to watch a recording after class.


Download an audio version (MP3, 50MB).


Sign up for the CLA Toolkit

Missed class, or just missed signing up for the CLA Toolkit? We’ll post a link after class for you to sign up.

Upcoming due dates

This week

Type What When Where
Assessment Week 2 Reflection Sunday 7 August, 11.59pm See prompt at the bottom of this page and post to your blog
Assessment Sign up for a Twitter chat champion week Sunday 7 August, 11.59pm Doodle poll

Next week

Type What When Where
Assessment Week 3 Reflection Sunday 14 August, 11.59pm Check the Week 3 page for the prompt and post to your blog

Learning materials: Critical thinking, collaborative thinking and the Community of Inquiry framework

This week we are thinking about the Community of Inquiry framework and critical reflection. The content this week is geared towards getting you set up for the semester and getting you to think deeply about critical reflection and what it means to critically engage and think reflective about the unit content. This is also really important as you move forward as a professional. Being a critical, reflective thinker is at the core of being an engaged professional and a lifelong learner. And effective engagement in communities is also critical for you as a professional, both in your workplace and in your ongoing professional development.

We want to introduce you to three concepts in this week’s learning materials: critical thinking; collaborative thinking; and the Community of Inquiry framework.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking can be defined as ‘analyzing, conceptualizing and assessing ideas through personal reflection and public discourse’ (from: Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of inquiry, p. 13). You can’t learn critical thinking skills by sitting in a classroom while someone lectures, or by reading a book. Critical thinking skills are acquired by doing.

Critical thinking is a process of constructive and collaborative inquiry marked by phases of identifying the problem, exploration, integration and resolution. It is a question of being deeply immersed in resolving a dilemma or problem while collaboratively questioning conceptions and examining alternative perceptions and ideas (from: Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of inquiry, p. 14).

Collaborative thinking

The following quote provides a very quick overview of collaborative thinking and why it is important. We’d like you to read it as a precursor to the book chapter we’ve asked you to read below.

The key to prospering in a connected knowledge society is to be able to think and learn collaboratively. Creativity and innovation does not happen in a vacuum. Thinking collaboratively avoids the risk of group-think. The goal to thinking collaboratively is to develop expectations and a climate where ideas can be challenged without feeling threatened. This perspective is further developed through collaborative inquiry and the construct of thinking and learning in a community of inquiry. Collaborative inquiry is realized by social constructivist approaches to learning and developing metacognitive awareness of the process of disciplined inquiry.

From an educational perspective, collaboration is essential for the development of critical thinking and learning. The primary case for thinking and learning collaboratively is made by humans’ natural tendency to hold on to previously held beliefs regardless of contrary evidence. Our tendency is to see the familiar and subconsciously reject disrupting ideas and information. As individuals it is virtually impossible to objectively examine the credibility of our beliefs. We need the feedback of the group to mirror our thoughts, expose flawed thinking and inject contrary ideas to be a catalyst for critical analysis. This is the critical and creative dynamic of thinking and learning collaboratively (from: Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of inquiry, p. 23-24; my emphasis).

Community of Inquiry

learning-materials-iconThe Community of Inquiry framework ‘represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence’. We are introducing you to the framework here so that you can think about how these elements come together in our learning community this semester, and so you can consider how you want to engage in the learning community.

We’d like you to read the following book chapter:

Chapter 5: Community of Inquiry in Garrison, D. R. 1. (2016). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of inquiry. New York: Routledge. [Links to eBook available from the QUT Library]

Critical reflection activity

assessment-iconThis week, we want you to think about communities: how you usually participate in them, and how you’d like to participate in this one. Respond to the following questions in your 500 word reflection and post on your blog.

Tag your post with tags like: Week 2, communities, Community of Inquiry… And any other tags you think are relevant and would help people to find your content later.

  • What is your natural instinct when engaging in communities? What is your natural way of behaving in community environments? Consider different communities you’ve been involved in. You might like to consider both online and offline communities (or some that cross both).
  • What kind of a profile would you like to have in our learning community this semester community?
  • What would you like your role in the community to be?
  • What are the ways you could / should behave in communities as a professional? The following sub questions might help you to think about this (note you don’t have to respond to all the subquestions; they’re just intended to help you if you are stuck):
    • How might you need to modify your instinctive behaviour?
    • Do you think it will be difficult or easy for you to behave the way you’d like to or the way you think you should?
    • Does this post – the one in which you are responding to these questions – embody the characteristics you think you should display in the community this semester?

Additionally, please write a short (100-200 word) reflection about Twitter:

  • How do you feel about using Twitter this semester?
  • Is Twitter new for you?
  • What are your concerns about using it?
  • Do you think you’ll like using it?
  • How are you feeling about the prospect of the Twitter chats?