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Re-Examining Teacher Presence in Online Communities of Inquiry: Can Gamified Learning Environments Replace Aspects of Teacher Presence?



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This research has examined the role of teacher presence in online education. The research has been guided by two research questions: 1) are there challenges to consistently establishing teacher presence in online courses?; and 2) can the role of teacher presence be assumed, in part, by the learning medium? The Community of Inquiry framework as outlined by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) has framed the discussion about the role of teacher presence in online education. Three research projects are presented to explore the research questions. The first study is a case study that examines twelve online instructors’ engagement and experience teaching online over a year at the University of Saskatchewan. The next study builds on that study by exploring teacher engagement and satisfaction of 28 online instructors at the University of Regina using survey techniques. Together the studies suggest that teacher engagement in online courses might be affected by the culture of the university. The third study addresses the second question by creating the NECSUS social computing environment, which assumes some functions of teacher presence. The NECSUS system has been tested in a graduate level ethics courses and demonstrates that it has the potential to support a community of inquiry. This is further demonstrated by the presentation of a NECSUS-like system design that could be modified to support a non-formal learning community for a commercial online education course for snowmobile safety. The outcome of this research suggests that the Community of Inquiry framework can inform the design of learning environments and that assume some responsibilities traditionally assumed by the instructor.



Community of Inquiry, Online Education, Gamification



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies


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