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What a voice-based chat room and a text-based forum can do for a language learning course in the Chinese online learning context?

The recent explosive growth of online courses gives an impression that if courses are delivered online, students will learn them independently. The truth is that a successful online course requires online interaction between students and the teacher to construct knowledge and make meaning in the learning process. This study makes an investigation of online interaction in the voice-based chat room and the text-based forum in the context of Chinese online language education with the purpose to compare the level of social presence in the two technological forms to explore how learners make efforts to form an online community for language learning. A quantitative approach was adopted in this study and the measurement of social presence has been based on categories and indicators of social presence proposed by Rourke et al (2001). A qualitative content analysis demonstrated how Chinese learners used the two tools for benefiting their language learning. The interaction stories in the voice-based chat room and in the text-based forum supplied implications to administrators, online teachers for future online course design. They may also guide learners and technical people involved in online education with some useful insight for online learning and technical support.


Ligao Wu    
The Institute of Online Education
Beijing Foreign Studies University, China

Associate Professor in ELT


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