The Shape of Different Public Online Meetings
Elia Tomadaki

This event took place on 7th February 2007 at 11:30am (11:30 GMT)
Knowledge Media Institute, Berrill Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK7 6AA

The idea of virtual meetings is far from new, with the first video phone released by AT&T in the 60's, making it possible to conduct business with remote colleagues, reducing travel costs and environmental aggravation. Recently, videoconferencing has become part of long-distance learning environments. Professionals, educators and students use online meetings to enhance their collaboration from different parts of the world, as well as the learning experience. This seminar will explore the visualizations of a set of public online meetings produced by the FlashMeeting videoconferencing system; do the shapes tell the story of the meetings? A range of communication patterns emerge from various models of online meetings, such as seminars, interviews, moderated project meetings, peer-to-peer meetings, web-casts and video lectures, over a three-year experimental period. FlashMeeting is a light-weight video conferencing tool in a web-browser applet, transmitting video and audio of the broadcaster and regularly updating thumbnail images of the other participants, adopting a turn-taking approach with only one person talking at a time. Other interaction channels are provided via text chat, emoticons, as well as a voting system. The analysis shows the diverse use of video and text to achieve different communicative goals; text chat is mostly used for social support and building a community, whilst audiovisual interaction is mostly used for actual work collaboration. The choice of these communication channels also varies according to the meeting type. The results indicate that the exploitation of these communication channels may vary according to the nature of individuals; others prefer predominantly the audiovisual channel to make their point, whilst others remain silent contributing a great amount of text to convey their views and underline their participation in the event. The future work focuses on automatic recognition of meeting types and personalized visualizations, as well as on the detection of roles adopted by different participants and how they may change in time.

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