Exemplary Online Educators: Creating a Community of Inquiry

Margaret EDWARDS

As more university courses are offered online educators have much to learn regarding how to use this technology to facilitate effective learning. Some educators have mastered online teaching and are regarded by their students as highly effective. Researchers in this study consulted graduate students who had completed their degrees by online distance learning and asked them describe what they found made certain professors exemplary. Findings reveal that highly effective online instructors challenge and affirm learners. As well, the exemplary online educators establish a clear presence in the virtual classroom and are regarded by students as persons of influence. When the “Community of Inquiry” ( Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, n.d.) model is used to situate the findings, elements of social, cognitive and teaching presence are evident in the approaches used by exemplary online educators. These study results have implications for the recruitment and selection of new faculty members and for the ongoing coaching and development of current faculty with the overall goal of enhanced quality of online education.

KEYWORDS: Online Educators, Effective Learning, Online Distance Learning, Community of Inquiry, Exemplary Online Educators