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Navigating Turn-Taking and Conversational Repair in an Online Synchronous Course

Online Learning Volume 21, Number 4, ISSN 2472-5749


In face-to-face conversations, speaker transitions (or hand-offs) are typically seamless. In computer-mediated communication settings, speaker hand-offs can be a bit more challenging. This paper presents the results of a study of audio communication problems that occur in an online synchronous course, and how, and by whom, those problems are resolved. Data were collected from chat transcripts and audio transcripts from a graduate level discourse and conversation analysis course that used WebEx, an audio conferencing software application that also has a chat channel. Using a conversation analysis approach, data were analyzed to identify when speaker hand-offs occurred to determine related patterns of confirmation strategies and repair sequences. Findings showed several different approaches to smooth speaker hand-offs. In cases where handoffs were not smooth, participants attempted corrections by either fixing the problem or by moving on. There were also instances in which parties encountered technical difficulties with the audio or with Internet connectivity. Parties used the chat channel to indicate that they were having trouble. The instructor's role was to troubleshoot, call upon students, and move the discussion along. This study provides some insight on how chat can be used in a discussion-based, online synchronous course to identify technical difficulties when a speaker is called upon and how the difficulty is resolved.


Earnshaw, Y. (2017). Navigating Turn-Taking and Conversational Repair in an Online Synchronous Course. Online Learning, 21(4), 315-336. Retrieved December 10, 2019 from .

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