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The Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC), developed at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), is a social-constructivist model, addressing a paradigm shift in employment skills, and supporting key elements of transformational learning. Adopting a Problem-based Learning (PBL) approach to activity design, FOLC has served as basis for both undergraduate and graduate, fully online degree programs for almost a decade. In this time, it has demonstrated its ability to facilitate richly collaborative, socially cohesive, and constructively critical, learning communities supported by a flexible array of synchronous and asynchronous digital affordances. FOLC represents a “divergent fork” of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) design to foreground the synergistic dynamics of social and cognitive presence, the role of professional educators as co- learners, the community-oriented nature of knowledge construction, the mediating role of digital competence and open technologies in fully online learning, and the transformational potential of democratized communication and assessment practices. Having positioned FOLC conceptually, a developing research agenda, aimed at grounding the FOLC on a broader body of empirical data, is presented. The underlying argument is that rich, transformative learning communities can be established in fully online programs, and these communities can have a significant democratizing effect on participants and the broader social context.
Blayone, T., van Oostveen, R., Barber, W., DiGiuseppe, M., & Childs, E. (2016, November 2-6). Developing Learning Communities in Fully Online Spaces: Positioning the Fully Online Learning Community Model. Paper presented at the Higher Education in Transition Symposium, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from [hyperlink]