Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Medical Community of Inquiry: A Diagnostic Tool for Learning, Assessment, and Research

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Medical Community of Inquiry: A Diagnostic Tool for Learning, Assessment, and Research

Article excerpt

Introduction

Teaching involves multi-faceted skills, beyond content expertise (Mishra & Koehler, 2007; Polly, Mims, Shepherd, & Inan, 2010; Shulman, 1987). A challenge today's educators face is the adaptation of novel technologies involved in e-learning (Barak, Hussein-Farraj, & Dori, 2016; Breslow, Pritchard, DeBoer, Stump, Ho, & Seaton, 2013; Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007). Although e-learning environments have clear potential for learning enhancement, well-established guidelines for maximizing and assessing their benefits are still lacking (Dori, 2007; Kozma & Vota, 2014; Schneckenberg, 2010).

There is a consensus among researchers and education designers that merely providing instructors with technological training is insufficient for preparing them to implement novel technologies into their classrooms (Hung, Chou, Chen, & Own, 2010). In particular, previous studies reported limited success in embedding technology into medical education (Bligh, 2005; Steinert, 2012). A central challenge in distance learning is encouraging involvement of students in learning activities. A relevant tool is the Community of Inquiry (CoI) implemented via online forums. In the present study, CoI methodology was implemented in annual programs for medical faculty development and its benefits and challenges were analyzed by using a methodology detailed below.

Background

An important characteristic of using CoIs as a learning and teaching methodology is the support of ongoing dialogue between students and instructors at any time (Arbaugh, Bangert, & Cleveland-Innes, 2010; Rubin, Fernandes, & Avgerinou, 2013). Important advantages of CoI in cases of scarce face-to-face meetings are the opportunities for ongoing in-depth processing of course content and for social support despite the physical distance (Cook, Garside, Levinson, Dupras, & Montori, 2010; Makoul, Zick, Aakhus, Neely, & Roemer, 2010; Sargeant, Curran, Allen, Jarvis-Selinger, & Ho, 2006). Of particular relevance for the present study is the finding that CoIs applied for training teachers were perceived by the trainees themselves as important professional development activities (Goldstein, Shonfeld et al., 2011; Goldstein, Waldman et al., 2011). However, several studies have identified that lack of 'e-competence'--previous technological experience, confidence, training, assimilation, and attitudes toward technology--was the central barrier for the successful implementation of teaching technologies (Avidov-Ungar & Iluz, 2014; Raby & Meunier, 2011; Ruiz, Mintzer, & Leipzig, 2006).

In the present study, we aimed to offer insights for increasing CoI utilization in medical courses, by extending the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge model (TPACK, see Figure 1) offered by Mishra and Koehler (2007) with additional, novel components. TPACK is a framework for effective integration of technology into pedagogy, building upon Schulman's (1987) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) framework. According to TPACK, learning is most effective when teachers are aware of the complex interplay among the various teaching facets (Dall'Alba, 2009; Oster-Levinz & Klieger, 2010). Acquisition of well-established skills for integrating novel technologies into teaching is suggested to be particularly successful if educators adopt a positive attitude and willingness to use these tools (Barak, Nissim, & Ben-Zvi, 2011; Huang & Liaw, 2005; Wong, Greenhalgh, & Pawson, 2010). Hence, professional development programs for teachers provide an opportunity for acquisition of such skills (Henderson, 2007; Prestridge, 2010). Albion, Tondeur, Forkosh-Baruch, and Peeraer (2015) have recently suggested a model for evaluating teacher professional development practices in technological teaching environments for fostering educational change. In particular, experience with CoI is expected to attenuate the reluctance of teachers to use this pedagogical tool for interactions with students and to increase awareness of its potential contribution to education (Cook et al. …

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