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Publication Detail
Video meeting signals: Experimental evidence for a technique to improve the experience of video conferencing
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Hills PD, Clavin MVQ, Tufft MRA, Gobel MS, Richardson DC
  • Publisher:
    Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    PLoS One
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Article number:
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Country:
    United States
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  • Language:
  • Notes:
    © 2022 Hills et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
We found evidence from two experiments that a simple set of gestural techniques can improve the experience of online meetings. Video conferencing technology has practical benefits, but psychological costs. It has allowed industry, education and social interactions to continue in some form during the covid-19 lockdowns. But it has left many users feeling fatigued and socially isolated, perhaps because the limitations of video conferencing disrupt users' ability to coordinate interactions and foster social affiliation. Video Meeting Signals (VMS™) is a simple technique that uses gestures to overcome some of these limitations. First, we carried out a randomised controlled trial with over 100 students, in which half underwent a short training session in VMS. All participants rated their subjective experience of two weekly seminars, and transcripts were objectively coded for the valence of language used. Compared to controls, students with VMS training rated their personal experience, their feelings toward their seminar group, and their perceived learning outcomes as significantly higher. Also, they were more likely to use positive language and less likely to use negative language. A second, larger experiment replicated the first, and added a condition where groups were given a version of the VMS training but taught to use emoji response buttons rather than gestures to signal the same information. The emoji-trained groups did not experience the same improvement as the VMS groups. By exploiting the specific benefits of gestural communication, VMS has great potential to overcome the psychological problems of group video meetings.
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