The Role of the Teacher in Managing Collaboration in Synchronous Online Collaborative Language Learning: A Multimodal Analysis By: Ali Alghamdi | Supervisors: Muge Satar and Spencer Hazel

Hi, My name is Ali Alghamdi. I am an IPhD candidate in Educational and Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University, UK. I am interested in looking at the ways in which English language teachers manage interaction in online synchronous learning environments. I am currently collecting video recordings of online English conversation classes on zoom.


  • The study of interaction in online collaborative language learning (OCLL) is well established and has been examined by many researchers (Kenning, 2010; Kessler, 2009; Lee, 2008; Storch, 2002; Yang, 2011).
  • A major emphasis in the previous literature was placed on patterns of interaction and collaboration using different analytical tools such as discourse analysis and content analysis. However, little attention has been paid on the multimodal analysis of how teachers manage and sustain collaboration in such settings.
  • The current study using a multimodal conversation analysis (CA) perspective aims to bridge this gap by analysing video recordings of teachers’ screens while working to manage OCLL sessions as students work on different conversation tasks.


This study builds on the previous literature that studied teachers’ management of the face-to-face language classroom so as to expand it and to offer a better understanding of the semiotic resources that teachers utilise to manage and sustain collaboration among students working on problem-solving speaking tasks. It also aims to examine the teachers’ use of different semiotic resources to manage interactional problems in OCLL.

Research Question

How do teachers manage interaction in synchronous online collaborative language learning?

zoom video conferencing software. Source: George Kao. (2017,06,22, 13:21)


In this research I will apply an ethnomethodologically informed CA (EMCA) as a method to satisfy the aims and needs of the study. I will build a collection of instances where teachers manage OCLL sessions to examine them at a micro level of analysis.

Context and Participants

  • 5 English language teachers from the United States and Brazil along with 16 English language learners from different countries (Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Morocco) participated in this study.
  • These were English conversation classes that were carried out on zoom platform along with other tools such as Google slides, Google maps, and YouTube.
  • These classes took place 4 times a week in different times to accommodate the timezones differences.
  • These classes were for learners at B1 and above levels.
  • Each of these classes lasted for around 45 minutes.
  • In the beginning of each session, the teacher starts by explaining the topic of the discussion and sets the stage for it.
  • These classes were designed for small groups of learners of 3 and if more learners attend, they were put in breakout rooms.
  • Topics of these classes revolved around family, travel, international food, cultures and other topics related mainly to culture.
  • The aim of these classes was to develop learners' linguistic, cultural, technical skills.


  • Data of this study is 8 hours (ongoing) of video recordings of teachers' screens while teaching online using zoom video conferencing software and other online tools.
  • A screen recorder software was used (Snagit and Screen Flicker) to capture all the interaction going on the teachers' screens and to see how they use the platform and other resources to manage the interaction in synchronous online conversation classes.

Data Analysis

  • CA will be used to guide the analysis of the collected video recordings of teachers’ screens.
  • These recordings will be watched repeatedly and carefully to identify the instances in which teachers use different semiotic resources to manage interaction in online conversation classes
  • Having identified these instances, they will be transcribed using Jefferson’s (2004) transcription conventions and ELAN software to provide detailed moment-by-moment description of the data.

Pedagogical implications

  • The study is expected to shed light on teachers’ practices in online conversation classes in terms of online classes’ management.
  • It is also expected to present recommendations for future teachers’ training programmes to prepare them to work on online platforms.