A Systematic Review of Online ELT Research in Indonesia During the COVID-19 Pandemic Through the Community of Inquiry Framework

Imelda Gozali, Faizatul Istiqomah, Utami Widiati
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 21  •  2022  •  pp. 501-546

This study attempts to provide a thorough review on online English Language Teaching (ELT) research in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of presenting best practices of online ELT classes for the future blended or hybrid learning scenario. To operationalize the “best practices” of online learning, the Community of Inquiry framework was used as the guiding perspective.

There is a dearth of research employing a systematic review of English Language Teaching (“ELT”) practices in Indonesia carried out during the pandemic, with a view of synthesizing such practices. Such a review is deemed essential in order to provide a comprehensive description of good practices in online English classes, such as in terms of integrating technology into the ELT virtual classes, taking advantage of the experience gained from approximately more than two years of Emergency Remote Learning in the country.

This study employed the Research Review methodology, with PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) 2020 to guide the process. Database (Google Scholar and Scopus) search was conducted to find research articles in English on ELT during the pandemic in Indonesia, excluding those that are conceptual in nature. The final list of 94 articles was then coded using the categories in the Community of Inquiry (“CoI”) framework, namely, Teaching, Cognitive, and Social Presence. Inter-rater reliability was computed to assess the risk of bias of the two reviewers. The resulting data, in the form of pieces of “evidence” of the CoI categories, were tabulated and described.

This research has contributed to providing a synthesis of online ELT teaching practice in Indonesia during the pandemic, specifically in describing the way teachers enacted the Teaching, Cognitive, and Social Presence online through the use of technology. This paper also describes how such deployment of technology should be accompanied by a selective choice of activities and explicit guidance from teachers, as well as teachers’ supportive attitude. Consequently, this study is probably among the first to carry out a systematic review of emergency online ELT practice during the pandemic from the CoI perspective, addressing a methodological gap of extant online ELT systematic review studies.

The results show that Teaching Presence constituted the highest number of pieces of evidence, with a caveat that the application of technology should be combined with clear instruction and task requirements. Next, Cognitive Presence needs to be fostered through activities that promote problem solving and critical thinking, such as online discussions, problem- or project-based learning, and self-reflection. Lastly, teachers need to make use of technologies to convey genuine concern for students and create a warm and friendly online environment as part of teaching activities that build Social Presence, although some affective expressions will need to be managed well to prevent some possible undesirable effects.

English teachers in Indonesia, or elsewhere with a similar context to that in the country, can gain insights on the good practice of online learning in terms of teaching methods, media, platforms, assessments, etc. Besides, the online English teaching practices can also inform pre- and in-service teacher education programs, so as to provide technology integration training that has already been tried and empirically tested.

For future research, the seemingly fewer pieces of evidence found in Cognitive and Social Presence might be fertile ground for Indonesian ELT scholars to carry out research focusing on those aspects. Much research outside of Indonesia has been conducted around the theme of the application of CoI principles in online English classes, while only a few studies in this respect have been found in the Indonesian context.

The findings of this study may help inform educational policies with regards to blended/hybrid or restricted face-to-face meetings in schools.

This paper has contributed to exemplifying the application of CoI framework as a tool of systematic review in research. Hence, in view of the impending blended, hybrid, or limited face-to-face learning, this type of CoI-framed systematic review research can be replicated in the future to assess the effectiveness of such blended or hybrid teaching mode. Besides, future research could also inquire whether ELT teachers sustain the use of technology in the post-pandemic, on-site learning.

community of inquiry, COVID-19, ELT, Indonesia, PRISMA, systematic review
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