Negotiation of pedagogic values in online study between secondary language classes in Australia and China

Year: 2012

Author: Moloney, Robyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



Despite the growth in research activity into intercultural learning within online collaborative language learning, there has been limited research which has cautioned and highlighted the possible pitfalls of the pedagogy, and the negotiation which must take place between the two pedagogic cultures involved. This qualitative study investigated teacher and student experience in a short-term online collaborative project between language classes in Australia and China. It examined student perception of the project, and how teacher beliefs and communication impacted the negotiation necessary between the partners.


Participants were nineteen Australian junior secondary students and their teacher. As a qualitative study, interview and focus group data were collected, transcribed and analysed, using constant comparative analysis, where inductive analysis progressively draws new evolving meaning from data, in consideration of context.


Teacher and student data identified unequal participation of partners in the project, differences and similarities in teacher beliefs, school cultures and expectations. Negotiation between the two teachers impacted the construction, conduct and success of the project. Although Chinese herself, the Sydney teacher reported her difficulties in negotiation with the teacher in China. The Australian school culture also played a role, creating apparent tension for the Sydney teacher between the values inherent in her preferred pedagogic style and her valuing of the online project. Both the students and the teacher were able to identify useful suggestions for the future iteration of such projects, in choice of teacher negotiation strategies, media, peer partnership, duration, and task design, to maximize successful learning.


The findings demonstrated that the core factor impacting success is teacher negotiation, both across the two pedagogic contexts, but also within the Australian classroom. This study provides evidence of the need for addressing teacher skills, beliefs, and intercultural understanding, in the construction of this learning experience. In light of the widespread adoption of this new learning context, and to support its success, it is essential that participant teachers understand the new skills called for. Cultural variability and pedagogic priorities play a key role in international collaborative online language learning. New teacher skills need to be further identified and investigated in the context of computer-mediated collaborative groups.