How do we construct meaning through sustained communication?
The third presence in the Community of Inquiry Framework is the cognitive presence. This is, basically, thinking. As students, we create meaning through our reading, our communications, our actions, our activities. Not all students are prepared to bring a cognitive presence to the online classroom. Many things have to be in place before a student’s cognitive presence can be activated. If accommodations are needed, they must be in place and acknowledged by the instructor. If the student needs materials, they must be obtained before the class begins. If a student needs technological or academic support, those must also be in place. Only when the brain is ready and able to work will cognition happen.
But in online classrooms, it needs to go beyond the cognitive presence. We really need to be discussing metacognitive presence. A student in an online class must have the ability to learn to learn. If we depend too much on the student being ready for online learning, we will be disappointed.