Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on Teaching, Learning and Education
Incorporating Synchronous Communication Tool to Promote ESL Graduate Students’ Online Participation
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools to adopt online teaching, causing a shift in how content is delivered and how students participate in class. Instructors utilized various online synchronous meeting tools (SMTs) to deliver instruction, most of which include built-in synchronous communication tools such as Zoom Chat Box. This study explores one graduate course at an American university utilizing Zoom as a teaching platform to figure out the impact learning online has on Graduate-level ESL participation and the factors conducive to an engaging online course. To this aim, the author collected observational notes for 12 consecutive online sessions and conducted critical analysis through the lens of the theory of Community of Inquiry (CoI). Analytical data highlighted a relative increase in-class engagement and interaction when the class transitioned from in-person classes to an online environment. The study identified a set of contributors to elevated ESL participation and the design of a successful online course, all of which naturally fall into the three presences of an online CoI. The findings showed that the most significant factors are synchronous communication tools (i.e., Zoom Chat Box), the leading social presence component. The benefits of incorporating synchronous communication tools in online courses and related pedagogical implications are discussed.
keywords: synchronous communication tool, Community of Inquiry (CoI), ESL, participation, online learning.