Topic 4 kicked my OCD and I didn’t seem to let go. In our PBL we discussed quite a lot about what is the main difference between learning communities and communities of inquiry. It may seem like a menial simple point, but it seemed really difficult to come up with a proper difference.

In our group, we did not really find a definite difference. In most of the literature, it seemed like the authors used these two terms interchangeably, which is irritating, when two entire topics on this course seem to point toward a clear (at least implicitly) difference. The lack of explicit markers of that difference took a toll on my already tired brain.

Furthermore, the video from Martha Cleveland-Innes (on minute 18:17) when defining communities of inquiry, states that “you gather your students in such a way that they feel they belong, that they feel a connection with other students, that they feel a connection with you, and that they do so even though they are remote and using technology.”

This is not really a good distinction, to me. Looking back at my reflection for Topic 3, I already talked about these issues (belonging and connection through technology) as a way to engage students in a learning community.

My initial thought was that communities of inquiry related to research, having “inquiry” as the central role of the community. This would mean the learning communities are about learning knowledge that is already there, created by others, and communities of inquiry, are meant to create knowledge by researching collaborately.

Some in our group proposed that the main difference was that learning communities were voluntary, goal oriented, knowledge sharing, and it is based on self-development. While communities of enquiry were more outcome-centered and geared toward assessment and evaluation. The problem is that this was more an individual thoght, not really based on the literature.

Lars, our group’s facilitator, thought that to him, the community of enquiry might might relate more toward the figure of a teacher, and how the lelationship betwen the student and the teacher is the transforming mechanism. We all seemed to agree on this and moved on.

And to a certain degree, it does not matter…but for as much as I love the idea that the educational experience is shaped by social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence (plus emotional presence according to Stenbom, Cleveland-Innes, and Hrastinski, 2014)), it is a framework that, in my opinion, could be matched to both learning communities and communities of inquiry.