Recent years have witnessed rapid growth in language learning within online collaborative learning projects constructed between educational institutions in different cultural and pedagogic contexts. This qualitative case study investigated the role of teacher communication in a short online project between language classes in secondary schools in Australia and China. Analysis of teacher interview data from the Australian school identifies, in the unequal participation across the two school contexts, that the core impacting factor was breakdown in teacher communication. This involved apparent conflict in pedagogic beliefs both across the two educational schema involved and also within the teacher's adaptation to her Australian context. This study provides evidence of the need to address both partners' pedagogic cultures and the development of new teacher skills, in the construction of a 'middle ground' in which online intercultural learning experience can be successful.