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Month: February 2024

EDDL 5141 Week 9: Creating Community

This marks my eighth master’s of education course at Thompson Rivers University, and it’s the first time I’ve been part of a group setting. All my previous courses were solitary pursuits, self-paced and discussion-based, but also distinctly impersonal. I hardly knew my instructors, and reaching out to them for help felt like an imposition. Similarly, my classmates were mere screen names on a discussion board, distant and unfamiliar. I attributed this to my choice of format, realizing later that I had underestimated the value of connecting with peers in an online format. That changed with this class. Here, I’ve not only felt supported by my instructor but also formed genuine bonds with my classmates. Emma, Debra, and I gather weekly on Teams, not just to discuss assignments but to share snippets of our lives – from daily happenings to stories about our pets and vacations. It’s all too easy to overlook the human aspect of online learning, forgetting that there are real people on the other side of the screen and I am glad this class has shown me how valuable it can be.

I used to believe that creating the classroom atmosphere was solely the instructor’s responsibility. However, in Vesely et al.’s (2012) article, they emphasize that both the instructor and the students play a crucial role in fostering a learning community. The more I reflected on this, the more I realized its validity, as learning is a collaborative process. It is true that as the leader, the instructor “must encourage supportive, interactive processes where class members can get to know each other, develop social skills with one another, and accept and support each other” (Vesely et al., 2012, p.234). However, the students have just as significant a role in participating, engaging, and reaching out to each other.

How can a collaborative community be nurtured? According to a video from the University of Saskatchewan, fostering student interactions, including commenting on each other’s work, sharing emotions, and discussing areas of understanding and confusion, can mimic a traditional classroom environment (University of Saskatchewan, 2012, 1:10). Parker and Herrington (2015) provide a comprehensive table on page 2 outlining various strategies for building rapport and encouraging emotional expression. What struck me about this table was its focus on instructors. Shouldn’t students also be involved? Why not introduce these strategies to students at the outset of the course or incorporate weekly exercises aimed at developing rapport and emotional expression? Often, educators hoard valuable insights, hoping to single-handedly mold a community. What if we shared this knowledge with our students and collaborated with them transparently? Transitioning from solo efforts to collaborative endeavors is key to fostering a robust, impactful, secure, and engaging community, whether in virtual or physical spaces.


Parker, J., & Herrington, J. (2015). Setting the climate in an authentic online community of learning. Australia Association for Research in Education Conference , 1-12. Retrieved from https://www.aare.edu.au/data/2015_Conference/Full_papers/140_Jenni_Parker.pdf

University of Saskatchewan. (2012). Maintaining community in online courses [Video file]. Source: https://youtu.be/byCIa1Rw7tg CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA

Vesely, P., Bloom, L., & Sherlock, J. (2007). Key elements of building online community: Comparing faculty and student perceptions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(3), 234-246. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no3/vesely.pdf

EDDL 5141 Week 7: Comparing Models

Topic The Five Stage Model v the COI Framework
  • Both frameworks have been developed to enhance the online learning environment. 
  • The models both break up learning into steps or elements.
  • There is a focus on collaboration in both models 
  • Both models involve the learning theory of constructivism
Differences Purpose

The Five Stage Model focuses on the process of online learning, specifically in terms of how learners engage. It progresses through five different stages of development: Access and Motivation, Online Socialization, Information Exchange, Knowledge Construction, and Development.

The COI framework is centered around the notion of a “community of inquiry,” emphasizing the importance of social, cognitive, and teaching presence in online learning environments. It identifies three presences: social presence (interpersonal interaction and communication), cognitive presence (the process of constructing meaning and knowledge), and teaching presence (the design, facilitation, and direction of the educational experience).


The Five Stage Model offers a structured approach to designing and facilitating online learning experiences (Salmon, 2006, p. 39). Educators can use this model to plan and scaffold activities that support learners at each stage of development, ensuring a smooth progression toward deeper understanding and engagement.

The COI Framework: Provides a framework for understanding and assessing the quality of online learning experiences (Garrison, 2007, p. 61). Educators can use this framework to evaluate the degree to which social, cognitive, and teaching presences are present and effectively integrated within their courses, guiding improvements in course design and facilitation.

Additional strategy to apply to my practice Regarding stage 1 (Access and Motivation) (Salmon, G. 2006, p. 40), I would employ a strategy to have screencasting videos showing students how to access and use technology. New technologies can be very stressful to try and figure out on your own, and the stress of academics will compound your emotional response. It is essential to support the students through their technological journey to succeed in their academic journey. As such, adding quick videos of how to use the technology can be invaluable. 




Garrison, D. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: social, cognitive, and teaching 

presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11 (1), 61-72. Retrieved 

from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ842688.pdf


Salmon, G. (2006). 80:20 for e-moderators. In: The challenge of ecompetence in academic staff 

development . CELT, NUI Galway, Galway, Republic of Ireland, pp. 145-154. Retrieved 

from https://eprints.usq.edu.au/18862/2/Salmon_Ch16_2006_PV.pdf

EDDL 5141 Week 6: Draft Course Design

Educational context: 

The online course I am developing is called The Role of the EA. This course focuses on clarifying roles and responsibilities between teachers and educational assistants. Topics include understanding the code of conduct, job descriptions, tasks, Alberta Teachers Association expectations and policies, and how to contribute to a positive school environment. 

Description of Online and Teaching and Learning Experience: 

The online course consists of two-hour weekly live synchronous sessions spanning six weeks. Its primary objective is to thoroughly explore the course material, present case scenarios derived from the information, and facilitate group discussions and debriefings to ensure a comprehensive understanding among students. Recordings of all live sessions will be available for those unable to attend due to conflicting commitments. Furthermore, students are encouraged to review the material in advance, submitting questions before each live class. This proactive approach allows the class to address their inquiries even if they are unable to participate in real-time.

Situational Factors

After a review of the situational factors for this course (Fink, 2003, p. 6), the predominant demographic of students in this program is composed mainly of females aged 18-40, with a significant portion being single parents or young mothers. A considerable number of enrollees in the educational assistant program have faced challenges in their own educational paths, fostering a deep appreciation for individuals committed to positively impacting the lives of young children. Prospective instructors are required to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and have accumulated 5-10 years of classroom experience.

Outcomes Learning Activities Assessment
Outcome #1: By tBy the end of the term, educational assistants (EAs) will apply their knowledge of professional and ethical practices outlined in the Code of Ethics to create a personal code of conduct.

Outcome #2: By the end of the spring term, the educational assistant (EA) will review key roles and responsibilities of educational assistants that differ from those of teachers in the Alberta K-12 education system.

Code of Conduct: 

  • Provide case studies that highlight ethical dilemmas in educational settings. Use student blogs (UNSW, n.d.) to facilitate conversations about ethical considerations in different scenarios.
  • Have students engage in active learning (Fink, 2003, p. 16) by forming small breakout groups and assign students parts of the Code of Conduct for educational assistants in Alberta to analyze and discuss specific aspects of the Code of Ethics.
  • Students will need to complete a personal code of conduct as such the course will incorporate peer review sessions where participants exchange and provide constructive feedback on each other’s draft using Blogs and discussion forums (UNSW, n.d).

Role of the Educational Assistant

  • Have participants create comparison Venn diagrams illustrating the distinctions between the roles of educational assistants and teachers.
  • Host an interactive class on Class Collaborate (UNSW, n.d.) where experts in the field, including both educational assistants and teachers, discuss their roles and responsibilities. Allow participants to ask questions and engage in discussions. 
Code of Conduct

  • Educational assistants will develop a personal code of conduct to apply their understanding of ethical practices required in their professional roles.

Role of the Educational Assistant

  • Educational assistants will engage in an online quiz focused on the distinctions in roles and responsibilities between educational assistants (EAs) and teachers. This quiz will feature scenarios and comparisons, allowing participants to demonstrate their comprehension of the unique aspects that differentiate each role.
  • Alignment: I started planning with a backward design model with asking myself these three questions “What do I want students to know? How will I know that they have learned it? What activities/tools will the students need to show their understanding?” (Center for teaching and learning, 2024). This process allowed me to start with the goal and not get lost in creating activities to ensure there are purposeful learning opportunities in the unit as well as strong assessment that matches the learning. 
  • Learning Objectives: I wrote the learning objectives in student centered language, narrowed the objective down to focus on one skill, and incorporated action verbs which were measurable (Carnegie Mellon University, 2016). 



Carnegie Mellon University. (2016). Articulate your learning objectives. Retrieved from https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/learningobjectives.html


Center for teaching and learning. (2024). Backwards course design. https://teaching.uwo.ca/curriculum/coursedesign/backward-design.html 


Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved from 

http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/ GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

UNSW. (n.d.). Selecting technologies. Retrieved from https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/selecting-technologies