Using a blog to create and support a Community of Inquiry in Secondary Education
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Understanding how blogs can support collaborative learning is a vital concern for researchers and teachers. This paper explores how blogs may be used to support Secondary Education students’ collaborative interaction and how such an interaction process can promote the creation of a Community of Inquiry to enhance critical thinking and meaningful learning. We designed, implemented and evaluated a science case-based project in which fifteen secondary students participated. Students worked in the science blogging project during 4 months. We asked students to be collaboratively engaged in purposeful critical discourse and reflection in their blogs in order to solve collectively science challenges and construct meaning about topics related to Astronomy and Space Sciences. Through student comments posted in the blog, our findings showed that the blog environment afforded the construction of a Community of Inquiry and therefore the creation of an effective online collaborative learning community. In student blog comments, the three presences for collaborative learning took place: cognitive, social, and teaching presence. Moreover, our research found a positive correlation among the three presences –cognitive, social and teaching– of the Community of Inquiry model with the level of learning obtained by the students. We discuss a series of issues that instructors should consider when blogs are incorporated into teaching and learning. We claim that embedded scaffolds to help students to argue and reason their comments in the blog are required to foster blog-supported collaborative learning.