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What mix of video and audio is useful for small groups doing remote real-time design work?
Technical Report Number: CREW-95-04
Authors: Judy Olson, Gary Olson, David K. Meader

This study reports the second in a series of related studies of the ways in which small groups work together, and the effects of various kinds of technology support. In this study groups of three people worked for an hour and a half designing an Automated Post Office. Our previous work showed that people doing this task produced higher quality designs when they were able to use a shared-editor to support their emerging design. This study compares the same kinds of groups now working at a distance, connected to each other both by this shared editor and either with high-quality stereo audio or the same audio plus high- quality video. The video was arranged so that people made eye contact and spatial relations were preserved, allowing people to have a sense of who was doing what in a way similar to that in face-to-face work. Results showed that with video, work was as good in quality as that face-to face; with audio only, the quality of the work suffered a small but significant amount. When working at a distance, however, groups spent more time clarifying to each other and talking longer about how to manage their work. Furthermore, groups rated the audio-only condition as having a lower discussion quality, and reported more difficulty communicating Perceptions suffer without video, and work is accomplished in slightly different manner, but the quality of work suffers very little.
Keywords: Group support system, Remote work, Concurrent editing, Small group behavior, Desktop video.
Full Text: ACM
Publication: Proceedings of CHI 1995 (pp. 362-368). New York: ACM Press
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