Design and Delivery of a Social Work Policy Class: Social Presence in a Blended Environment
AbstractThe Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework of Garrison & Vaughan (2008) was applied to the design of a blended learning social work policy class. The framework identified three elements of course design as a foundation for web based learning. The core elements were social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence To address the question as to whether the integration of technology into this policy course may decrease the amount and quality of social interaction, strategies were developed to foster social presence in course design. The course was delivered in a 16 week format. It was structured to meet every week, alternating an online group discussion board session with a F2F session. The content of the discussion board was designed by the instructor and required students to complete assigned readings and research the literature in response to a posted question. Students worked in groups, leading and facilitating the discussion. The subsequent F2F session was then designed to build on the theme of the discussion board, included content presented by the instructor as well as small group exercises to facilitate further exploration of the question. Voice announcements were integrated into the course to facilitate social interaction and communication. The hybrid social welfare policy class was delivered in winter 2010. A survey of pre-session student expectations and post-session experiences related to the amount and quality of social interaction and communication were compared for an interpretation of student experiences.