Design Principles

Topic Progress:

Recall from lesson 1 that there are seven principles that guide the creation and sustenance of a Community of Inquiry. The first two of those principles are related to the first category of teaching presence and guide the design and organization processes.

Principle 1: Plan for the creation of open communication and trust.

According to Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes and Garrison1, this principle is primarily focused on social presence in a course, but the process begins in the design phase and continues through the course as the instructor organizes learning activities in light of student needs and technological contingencies.

Principle 2: Plan for critical reflection and discourse.

Also important during the design and organization phase is  the planning required at the beginning to support critical inquiry, discourse, and reflection. As the amount of information (both scholarly and otherwise) in any given field is growing exponentially, coverage can no longer be the cognitive goal of any  single course. Similarly, it is important to ensure the students’ tasks are relevant (constructively aligned) and will achieve the intended learning outcomes.  Busy-work, optional tasks, and any irrelevant activity takes time away from the iterative process of constructing and confirming knowledge through reflection and discourse. In an asynchronous learning environment, everything takes longer.


  1. Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: AU Press. Retrieved from