The Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) is a reduced social-constructivist learning model based on communities of inquiry model (CoI). FOLC particularly responds to four problems related to the transformation of higher education in an increasingly globalized and digitalized knowledge society:
- the limitations of distance learning and MOOCs
- the call for greater development of 21st century competencies desired by influential organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the Conference Board of Canada
- the needs of transformative and emancipatory learning as conceptualized by Human Rights Education
- the requests from some international partners for new models of learning aligned with democratic and socio-economic reforms
FOLC is based on the following concepts:
- Social Presence: The ability of learners to project themselves socially and emotionally in a community of inquiry
- Cognitive Presence: Four-phase procedural model, considered a generalization of scientific method, begins with a triggering event, and subsequently moves through phases of exploration, integration, and resolution
- Teaching Presence: is here eliminated in favour of a more democratized approach to learning, one which places much greater emphasis on the community and learner empowerment.
- Digital Space: FOLC recognizes four fundamental dimensions of human-computer-human interaction (technical, informational, social, and epistemological/computational) and their accompanying competencies as prerequisite layers supporting SP, CP, and collaborative learning. It offers well-established practices for the selection and use of digital affordances to foster fully online community learning.
- Democratized learning: as a term, it is a loose, boundary construct with scattered presence in the literature: A. it deals with processes of learning not about democracy/ B. it addresses the fact that at the microlevel education tends to be authoritarian/ C. it emphasises on the deepening democracy/ D. it gains strength through digital technologies
Key themes emerge in relation to FOLC educational environments, including:
- collective identity and responsibility: to build interpersonal relationships; to promote distributed responsibility for refining knowledge through challenging feedback that triggers cognitive dissonance; to encourage divergent thinking.
- freedom and flexibility: adults share both structure and control of the digital space, respecting diverse personal learning needs, and working together to improve performance; individuals bring a variety of digital tools and skills to the FOLC
- authenticity: an authentic context; authentic tasks and activities; access to expert performances; multiple perspectives; collaboration; reflection; articulation; coaching; authentic assessment
- community and criticality: FOLC represents a joint enterprise understood and continually renegotiated by its members; fosters relationships of mutual engagement; establishes a shared repertoire of resources that members enthusiastically share
Todd J. B. Blayone, Roland vanOostveen, Wendy Barber, Maurice DiGiuseppe and Elizabeth Childs, Democratizing digital learning: theorizing the fully online learning community model, in International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education201714:13, DOI: 10.1186/s41239-017-0051-4, available here
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