Saturday, March 28, 2015


Well there have been some significant developments since my last post (admittedly infrequent). First, I have retired but continue to write. I have a new book that will be published this summer – Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry.
Zehra Akyol and I have also published what we consider a significant article on shared metacognition (third in a series). This article presents the development of a metacognition construct (reflecting two interdependent dimensions: self and co-regulation of cognition) and instrument for the purpose of understanding and assessing the structure and dynamics of metacognition in a collaborative learning environment.

Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2015). Developing a shared metacognition construct and instrument: Conceptualizing and assessing metacognition in a community of inquiry. Internet and Higher Education, 24, 66-71.

Research continues on the Community of Inquiry framework and the latest developments can be found at the CoI website. Please feel free to join the discussion forum.

I cannot resist adding a personal note. In the last post I had described some of the golfing accomplishments of my youngest daughter, Sabrine. Well she is now attending the University of Minnesota on a full golf scholarship. She is taking a heavy academic load (eg, chemistry, calculus) and earning straight As while excelling on the golf course (this takes real time management). She recently led her team to victory in the final round shooting a 67 (second lowest score of the day; 95 golfers) at a tournament in Las Vegas. I have attached a picture of the two of us at this event.
In conclusion, let me say that I am turning my attention in the next year to doing a third edition of my book – E-Learning in the 21st Century. Well that is about it for another year or so :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Annual Update

I will not start with an apology or excuses for not posting more frequently. It is a lack of interest talking about myself as well as other distractions. That said, let's see if I can remember some significant events from the last year.

I guess I should start with the fact that I have settled into the role of a full-time professor (for the first time). Frankly I find it a relief to get away from the stresses of administration, especially trying to initiate change and innovation associated with teaching and learning in a large research oriented university. Any hope for significant change is a longer term developmental process.
In my first year teaching I had the challenge of creating two new senior graduate courses and the pleasure of teaching these to bright and motivated learners. I am currently preparing to teach two research courses for the first time.

From a research perspective I have worked collaboratively on two books. One book updates the research associated with the CoI framework and the second book is open source focusing on the CoI's practical applications (available the fall of 2013):
  • Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (Eds.) (2013). Educational communities of inquiry: Theoretical framework, research and practice. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca, Athabasca University Press.
My primary research focus over the last couple of years has been working with my colleague Dr. Zehra Akyol on developing a metacognitive construct and instrument that extends the Community of Inquiry framework. In particular this construct refines the intersection between Cognitive Presence and Teaching Presence through the recognition of both self and co-regulation. These issues reflect the essential integration of personal and shared learning activities to the development of an educational community of learners. Preliminary findings were reported at the AERA 2013 conference and the results of confirming a metacognitive questionnaire is currently being drafted for publication.

I am indebted to my colleagues Marti Cleveland-Innes, Norm Vaughan and Marguerite Koole for initiating a redesign of the Community of Inquiry website. We hope to more comprehensively reflect the research and practice as well as facilitating discussion forums on current topics and issues emerging from the research and practice associated with the CoI framework. We anticipate launching this new website in September, 2013. Hopefully this will inform and engage the many researchers and practitioners interested in the CoI framework around the world.

On a personal note, I am very proud of my oldest daughter, Nadine, who recently graduated with BComm degree. I also continue to have the great satisfaction of watching my youngest daughter, Sabrine, excell in junior golf. She recently competed in the Junior World Championships at Torrey Pines north of San Diego. She finished 30th out of 150 golfers from around the world in her age group and has verbally accepted a full scholarship from a large US university. The picture below was taken during a practice round at Torrey Pines golf course. Since then she finished 5th at the Canadian Junior Nationals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It has been a quiet and welcomed time since my last blog.
The main reason I have not posted anything (other than I am not very good about
such things) is that I have been on administrative leave since stepping down
from my position as Director, Teaching & Learning Centre. I have taken this
time to focus on my writing and research and spend time with my youngest
daughter supporting her athletic pursuits. I have been working on two books,
one with my colleague Zehra Akyol (at printers) as well as with colleagues Norm
Vaughan and Marti Cleveland-Innes (about to be sent to publisher). Both books
are focused on the Community of Inquiry framework and information will be
posted on the
website when they become available. Suffice to say at this point that one is an
edited book about a range of research projects using the CoI theoretical
framework and the other is associated with teaching presence in a community of
It was my great pleasure recently to present a research paper
at AERA with my colleague Norm Vaughan. The research was led by Zehra Akyol but
she could not attend the conference. We presented some early findings on the
development of a metacognition questionnaire. The questionnaire was developed
in the context of the CoI theoretical framework and validated qualitatively. The
results of the pilot study did not turn out as we expected but was fortuitous
in that it directed us to consider more explicitly the issue of situated
learning and co-regulation. We intend to revise the questionnaire items and
initiated a full scale study that would validate an instrument that could be an
invaluable tool in exploring metacognition in collaborative and co-regulated
learning environments.
It is interesting that I will be teaching this summer a
course titled “Innovations in Teaching & Learning” after serving as the
director of a teaching and learning unit that had great difficulty sustaining significant
institutional changes. I really look forward to exploring this topic as I think
it is a major challenge in most institutions of higher education. The challenge
in my opinion is the commitment to transformational change on the part of
senior administration and the will to stay with it over time.
Let me end this posting on a personal note. One of the great
benefits of my administrative leave was that I had the time flexibility to
support my daughter in her golf and basketball activities. It was, however, the
golf that was most rewarding. We were able to compete in four junior
tournaments (Future Collegiate World Tour) where she finished first and second
twice. This was remarkable (not surprising to hear this hyperbole coming from a
father) in that we live in a snow bound country that offers no opportunities to
play or practice outside. Yet she was able to compete against players that were
up to two years older and had the advantage to practice and play outside year
round. To complete this indulgence, I have added a couple of pictures.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2010 Update

Much has happened since my last post; my apologies for the absence. My only comment is that I am not very good with social media. In this regard, I do take a critical but I hope constructive view of social media and mobile learning in my latest book - E-Learning in the 20th Century (2nd Ed.). While the title is the same as the first edition, it is virtually a complete rewrite and an update on the Community of Inquiry (CoI) theoretical framework. This work and another book co-authored with Marti Cleveland-Innes - An Introduction to Distance Education: Understanding Teaching & Learning in a New Era - has occupied much of my time the last year or so. I am now working on an edited book with Zehra Akyol titled - Educational Communities of Inquiry: Theoretical Framework, Research and Practice. We are soliciting chapter proposals for this book (see CoI website). I am also working with Norm vaughan and marti Cleveland-Innes on a proposal for a book on teaching presence in a blended learning context. This is in essence a sequel to Blended Learning in Higher Education (co-authored with Norm Vaughan) that focuses on the practical aspects of designing and delivering blended learning.

I was very honored to receive the 2009 Sloan-C award for Most Outstanding Achiement in Online Learning by an Individual and the 2010 Canadian Association for University Continuing Education Distinguished Research Award. I would also like to draw your attention to a presentation I did last November at the XV Congress on Technology and Distance Education in Costa Rica. I very much enjoyed visiting this beuatiful country and experiencing the rain forest when it did what it does best - rain. I expect to receive a copy of the presentation and will post it on the Community of Inquiry website: http://communities of

A recent research project worth noting conducted with my colleague Zehra Akyol is on metacognition in the context of a community of inquiry. A paper describing the theoretical model and initial study has been accepted for publication in the Internet & Higher Education. I believe this is an important contribution to the development of the CoI framework as it raises an important issue regarding self-direction in a collaborative community of learners. The suggestion is that perhaps we need to explore shared monitoring and regulation of learning. The metacognitive construct we propose provides an important link between teaching and cognitive presence. We have developed a metacognitive survey instrument we are currently validating for use in further studies of this construct in a community of inquiry context.

The timing of this infrequent posting was also precipitated by the fact that I am finishing my second term as Director, Teaching & Learning Centre at the University of Calgary. I look forward to moving to a teaching and research position in the Faculty of Education after a career as a full-time adminsitrator. Taking on a full teaching load does bring some anxiety but I hope to use some of my adminsitrative leave time to begin preparing for what will be a major adjustment.

Finally, on a personal note, I did mention in my last posting that I had the pleasure of playing golf with my youngest daughter - Sabrine. Well she has made considerable progress in competitive golf. Since winning several tournaments during the summer of 2010, she has competed in two US tournaments this winter where she finished first and second (lost by a shot) in the under 19 category (at age 14). I cannot compete with her anymore but find great pleasure following here around the golf course. The pictures you see here are from those trips. You will also note that Sabrine is a great photographer as she has managed to make me look 10 years younger.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spring/Summer 2009

Once again I have some considerable catching up to do since my last posting. At the end of March this year I attended the National Centre for Academic Transformation Conference in Orlando. The conference was very useful but it was also a welcomed trip to the sun after a particularly long cold winter. It was made even more enjoyable as my daughter Sabrine joined me and we got out to do some golfing. Sabrine just turned 13 yrs old but is a very good golfer (7 hdcp).

This summer I was honored to give the keynote presentation at the The Fourth International Blended Learning Conference at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. My presentation can be view at:

I was also pleased to be invited to the 25th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning in Madison, Wisconsin in August. I think the highlight of the conference for me was the keynote presentation from Dr. Michael Moore with regards to the history of distance education and the watershed events in the mid 1980s with regard to the acceleration of scholarship in the field. In this regard, I would like to note that Marti Cleveland-Innes and myself have a book on distance education due out this fall. It addresses the current state of distance education in the context of developments associated with online and blended learning. We argue that we are entering a new era of distance education very much shaped by collaborative communities of learners which, in turn, challenge the core independence assumption inherent to traditional distance education. The question is whether distance education will be transformed or will it eventually reach an evolutionary dead-end?

Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (in press). An introduction to distance education: Understanding teaching and learning in a new era. London: Routledge.

In closing let me note that Norm Vaughan and I will be doing an online workshop on blended learning for Jossey-Bass in October. Norm and I were also invited to speak at the the E-Learn--World Conference on E-Learning in Vancouver in October on the topic of blended learning. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that I had been been selected to be the recipient of the 2009 Sloan-C Award for Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual. This was a great honor but given the timing of the presentation I had to cancel out of the E-Learn Conference. This was not a major issue as I know Norm will do just fine without my input.

Finally, I would like to say that I am working with my colleagues Phil Ice and Zehra Akyol on an exploratory study of meta-cognition using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. The guiding question is what role does metacognition play in the developmental dynamics (constructing meaning and confirming understanding) of a community of inquiry. More specifically, we will be exploring the relationships between meta-cognition and each of the presences (social, cognitive and teaching) in the CoI framework. So much for now.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Books, CNIE Conference

Well I once again have got around to the infrequent updating of my blog. To begin, I want to note that Norm Vaughan and I received the Frandson Book Award for our recently published book – Blended Learning in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass) from the University Continuing Education Association (USA). We were very pleased to have the book recognized so soon after publication. Norm received the award in New Orleans. I was not able to attend as I had a previous commitment to attend AERA in New York. It would appear that the book has attracted considerable interest.

Keeping on the topic of books, I am pleased to say that Marti Cleveland-Innes and I have had a book proposal accepted by Routledge. It is titled: An introduction to distance education: Understanding teaching and learning in a new era. This will be an edited book with contributions from the leaders in distance and online learning who are responsible for mapping the direction of these two fields of study and practice. As with most books, it will take some time before we see this in print.

During this academic year I have been working with a visiting doctoral student, Zehra Akyol, who is from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey. She has been researching two courses offered by Norm Vaughan. The courses were delivered fully online in the fall and then in a blended learning format in the 2008 winter term. This provided an opportunity to do a comparison of the two approaches using the Community of Inquiry to frame the research and help interpret the findings. We have had one paper accepted for publication and are working on a second. The title of the first paper is: The development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course: Understanding the progression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence. The second paper will focus on the comparison of online and blended approaches.

Zehra, Norm and I did presentations on these topics at the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) 2008 International Conference. Zehra did a great job presenting some interesting and complex data (she is second from the right in the picture below). The others are, from the left, Phil Ice, Karen Swan and Peter Shea.

Another important development reported at the CNIE Conference was a presentation on the development, validation and application of the Community of Inquiry Instrument with Phil Ice, Karen Swan, Peter Shea, Marti Cleveland-Innes and myself. The first picture has me at the podium with Phil, Marti, Karen and Peter from left to right. The second picture has us reacting to an obviously very funny comment from Peter.

Finally, Marti Cleveland-Innes, Karen Swan, Phil Ice and I did a CNIE pre-conference workshop titled: Community connections: Implementing three presences in an online community of inquiry. Again, left to right, we have Phil Ice, Karen Swan, myself, and Marti Cleveland-Innes.

Slides of these presentations can be found at:

Friday, November 23, 2007

I recently had the privilege to participate in a collaborative research project to develop and validate a Community of Inquiry research instrument. Members of the team, in alphabetical order, are Ben Arbaugh, Marti Cleveland-Innes, Sebastian Diaz, Phil Ice, Jennifer Richardson, Peter Shea, Karen Swan and myself. The team was led by Phil Ice and early results of our work were presented at the Sloan-C Conference in Orlando in November. A three factor solution with oblique rotation was presented. All variables loaded cleanly on the expected factor/presence. This suggests a stable instrument that could be used in a variety of studies, including large scale inter-institutional or cross-disciplinary studies. A second Community of Inquiry presentation followed immediately after the instrument validation presentation that explored various theoretical research issues associated with the framework. This was led by Marti Cleveland-Innes and Karen Swan. Finally, I was involved in a third presentation led by Norm Vaughan on the topic of blended learning and student engagement. We reported on the evaluation of blended course redesign at the University of Calgary. Norm and I also had the pleasure of having supper with Erin Null (picture above), an Associate Editor at Jossey-Bass, who worked with us in the development of our book Blended Learning in Higher Education. All in all it was an interesting and successful conference.