Distance learning is becoming increasingly prevalent. If education is a community affair, how do we digitally design the conditions for learning at a distance for our students? This research examines a distance learning environment within a Master’s Degree course created using online discussion forums, based upon the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000). A structural analysis of the discussion forums, a quantitative analysis of social, teaching, and cognitive presence using a ten-factor model (Dempsey & Zhang, 2019), and a qualitative analysis of individual interviews with community members, found that the role of the instructor is critical in providing metacognitive direction to the community. This direction includes encouraging students towards ‘cwelelep’, or the pursuit of uncertainty and cognitive dissonance, thus opening the way for the relational construction of knowledge. To help students embrace uncertainty, they require explicit metacognitive knowledge of the processes that allow a community of inquiry to function.
Keywords: distance education, community of inquiry, social construction, metacognition, First Nations principles
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