Different methods of communication 1. 0 Introduction Communication can be considered as one of the most important parts of human life that has evolved during the history of our existence. Different methods of communication from smoke signal to sign languages to face to face communication have played an important part in our lives. Rapid development in the technology field caused evolution of electronic communication and we started to develop better and faster tools and methods to communicate with each other.
As the result of faster and more effective communication people started to learn about different cultures and regions. Actions or deliverables which took our ancestors weeks if not months to achieve were made possible in hours. It will be fair to argue that these changes were the main factors of globalisation, and as a consequence we started to live in a new world also known as the global village. Globalisation allowed organisations and companies to spread their wings across different countries and continents.
Both profit and non-profit making organisations started to grab their fair share in the global village and fast and effective communication gave the edge to these organisations. In order to make and execute business plans, organisations held face to face meetings between the relevant people within the organisation. This included meetings between people working in different geographical regions and in order to conduct these meetings organisations needed to afford expenses for travelling, eating and accommodation so that significant people can meet at one geographical location.
However with organisations trying to cut their overhead expenses and trying to survive through current recession, traditional methods of conducting meetings did not compete with the current business pattern mainly due to inflexibility and high expenditure. To overcome these issues organisations started to have virtual sessions which allowed them to conduct the meeting and training between relevant people without having to travel the distance. Virtual sessions allowed organisations to carryout frequent and flexible meetings and training with significantly reduced cost. Virtual training is an educational mode that distributes educational topics and materials to a wide audience who gain access to training without having to present themselves physically at training centres and classrooms. It consists essentially in communication via internet and frequent use of email. It therefore requires development of substantive course material as well as technical support. ‘ (Malik and Ochaita, 2002:49). Virtual session is not only cost effective but gives organisations flexibility to conduct meeting and training in a synchronised manner between different locations, thus saving time and money.
Moving from face to face meetings to virtual meetings does come with issues, one of which is that the use of modern tools and technology to conduct virtual sessions requires more skills to operate them. The main issue however is that the level of interaction and freedom to participate changes as we move from face to face sessions to virtual sessions. In a face to face interaction verbal / non-verbal communication as well as emotional behaviour is involved, while in the virtual session participating people need to make it more realistic by adding these characteristics. Yohei Murakami and Yuki Sugimoto and Toru Ishida, 2005). This raises the question of the effectiveness of these virtual sessions. The aim of this research report is to find how human interaction during virtual sessions can be improved so that overall effectiveness can be enhanced. 1. 1 Motivation During the BSc course at Royal Holloway, the team conducted a virtual training project which triggered the interest in this aspect of technology. Project requirement was to conduct a research to find the potential virtual training market.
Based on the research the team had to propose the best method to deliver virtual training such as the use of video conferencing. The team also had to justify the use of virtual sessions for training instead of using traditional face to face training. During the BSc course at Royal Holloway, the Information Systems Theory and Practice module team conducted a virtual training project which triggered the interest in this aspect of technology. The project involved conducting research into the potential virtual training market by conducting different surveys.
Based on the research the team proposed the best method of delivering virtual training such as the use of video conferencing. The team also had to justify the use of virtual sessions for training instead of using traditional face to face training. To increase profit margin and reduce overhead expenses many organisations in the near future will be aiming to conduct virtual sessions. It is much easier to install the hardware and train people on how to use the equipment, but the main challenge is to monitor and increase the level of human interaction.
If the human computer interaction is increased and the participants have more freedom and comfort to carry virtual session the result will increase drastically. It will increase the flow of communication which will result in more sharing of knowledge. The motivation to investigate this field is not only based on the reason that this could be the future for all most all organisations but also on the very interesting topic of human computer interaction. Another motivation to conduct this research is to help to reduce the carbon foot print.
If more people use the virtual sessions for meetings then this will reduce the need to travel which in turn will decrease the carbon foot print. 1. 2 Research Aims and Objectives The main aim of this research is to investigate how humans will interact with the system during the virtual sessions by monitoring their face expressions, body gestures and eye contact. In order to achieve this the researcher will investigate a popular technology used for virtual sessions, video conference system, and then examine how the participants are interacting with each other as well as with the system during these virtual sessions.
In order to form the foundation of this research report the author will investigate literature on Video Conference System and Human Computer Interaction put forward by various authors. The author will also carry out various research methods to collect primary data on how the participants interact with each other during a video conference system. Based on the findings, next aim is to identify the poor areas of interaction between the users and the system which are affecting the outcome of the virtual sessions.
The last aim of this research is to suggest ways and methods, based on the research done that can improve the effectiveness of these video conference meeting. This will be done by recommending methods to improve the human interaction element such as body gestures, eye contacts and the handling of the equipment, which is the key factor in increasing the effectiveness of virtual sessions. The questions which the author will try to answer in the primary and secondary research will be :- 1. What is the affect of the placement of the camera on a video conferencing meeting? 2.
Is it important to establish an eye contact with other participants during a video conference meeting? 3. How can participants establish eye contact? 4. What is the impact of using the body gestures during a video conferencing meeting? 5. What is the affect of the placement of the microphone on a video conferencing meeting? 6. How can these three human computer interaction element namely placement of the camera to establish an eye contact, use of body gestures and placement of the microphone to transfer voice, be used correctly in order to increase the effectiveness of a video conference meeting? 1. Technology Virtual session is an environment which is designed to facilitate people to communicate with each other without being physically present at the same location. In other words it is an alternate to face to face communication which permits people to communicate with each other from distance. The communication is conducted by means of a system which involves both the hardware and the software (Bailenson, et al. 2006). Different technologies can be used to conduct virtual sessions, video conference system is one of the main and most popular technology which is currently used in different sectors.
In a video conference system two or more locations are connected and participants can interact using both audio and video transmission (www. Cisco. com). Leaning Management System (LMS) is another technology which can be used for virtual sessions. It is a tailored software which is used to deliver, track and supervise training. LMS can be used to provide self-service training workflow, collaborative learning and on-line evaluation. (www. joomlalms. com). Another growing technology to carry out virtual session is Skype, it facilitates both video and voice calls over the internet free of cost.
The voice quality for Skype application is clear compared to other software and it gives user mobility as the application can be downloaded on mobile phones. (www. skype. com). Several free application can also be used to make live video calls such as Camfrog (www. camfrog. com) and Msn messenger (http://webmessenger. msn. com). These technologies are suited when the budget is low as they do not guarantee quality or security. This research report will only concentrate on one technology which is a video conference system and the main reason for this decision is that this technology is the most widely used technology to conduct virtual meeting. In the report, In-Stat/MDR predicts that the worldwide market for set-top box and room video conferencing systems will grow from approximately $772 million in 2001 to more than $2. 2 billion in 2006′ (Fritz 2002:18) Features such as the ability to connect more than two locations, allowing large group of people to communicate, easy to use equipment and high quality transmission of video and audio is increasing its popularity as according to Fritz (2002), user friendly video conferencing services and products has increased its market.
This is resulting in many organisations from various sectors to adopt this technology. Author argues that this technology is most popular and effective in conducting virtual meeting in comparison to other technologies and will only discuss this technology in the research report. 1. 4 Report Organisation The research report is organised in 6 chapter which are as follows:- Chapter 1 is the Introduction which gives the background on the topic and highlights the aim and objectives for undertaking this research report.
Chapter 2 is the Literature Review which covers the appropriate literature presented by various authors. This chapter discusses the video conferencing technology, different sectors using this technology and the human computer interaction element which affects it. It then shows the theoretical framework which highlights the three human computer interaction element, which are investigated in this research report. . Chapter 3 is the Methodology chapter which gives information of the methods to collect the primary data for this report
Chapter 4 is the Result chapter which contains the key finding from the research that was carried out. Chapter 5 is the Discussion chapter which analyses the primary data in order to answer the key research questions set out in the theoretical framework. This chapter highlights the key finding and try to show that improving the human computer interaction element can increase the effectiveness of a video conference system. Chapter 6 is the Conclusion chapter which draws the conclusion on the research and contains limitations and recommendations for future work. 2. 0 Literature Review
This dissertation topic not only covers the technology used to conduct the video conferencing but also the interaction between humans and technology. It is very difficult to present the literature to cover every aspect of this topic due to the vastness of the literature in this field and the limitation of words. In this chapter, relevant literature on video conferencing and the Human Computer Interaction is carefully reviewed and examined. The background is set by discussing the reasons as to why organizations are using video conferencing and the benefits and issues surrounding it.
Secondly this chapter looks at the technology of video conferencing and how it is used to conduct the virtual sessions and any technical skills and training required to operate the equipment. Thirdly this chapter talks about how different sectors are adopting video conferencing systems to provide virtual sessions and its impact on their businesses. Lastly this chapter critically review the literature presented by various authors on how the participant interact both with the system and with other participants during video conferencing. 2. 1 Technology and Communication
Technology has evolved with time and from laboratory based computers we have entered into a technology-based world that consist of personal computing devices such as high specification laptops and mobile phones. ‘Many large organizations have installed a complex network of computer-based telephone, facsimile, printing, voice mail, email, and even videoconferencing technologies. These technologies increase the potential for communication in the organization. They also can support changing patterns of communication’ (Hinds & Kiesler 1995:373)
Similarly the use of the World Wide Web has changed from just academic to business and leisure and the average time spent on the web has increased considerably. It is reasonable to argue that these emerging technologies are transforming the human computer interaction drastically. In order to understand virtual sessions and video conferencing, it is essential firstly to explain computer-mediated communication. According to Dix et al. (2004), during a computer-mediated communication, communication between two or more participants occurs and is supported by a computer system.
It not only deals with the communication between the humans and computers but it also includes the communication between humans. As there are no guidelines, set rules or instructions on how the humans should interact between other humans using technology, it makes the computer-mediated communication field very interesting and open to research. With organizations keen on saving time and money on travel, computer-mediated communication has grown in the last few decades.
Quality of interaction is very high in face to face communication which is essential for meetings (Rosenbery, 2002), but with organizations spread across the globe, it does not make financial and logical sense to only conduct face to face meetings. This is where technology plays its part in helping people to communicate from one side of the world to the other. Being able to communicate without the need to travel the distance is turning out to be quite popular. This allows the organizations to cut down their cost on travel, living and food expenses. It also saves time and provides flexibility to conduct meeting.
Looking at the bigger picture it is positive to the Earth as it helps to reduce the carbon footprint. Computer-mediated communication also comes with limitations. It is difficult and sometimes frustrating to receive feedback. ‘The most obvious feature of FtF communication lacking in CMC is physical presence. The fact that the interlocutors cannot see and hear each other directly means that they cannot exchange many of the tacit signs that play an important role in resolving ambiguities and establishing social control. ‘ (Adrianson & Hjelmquist 1999:179) Ftf = Face to FaceCMC = Computer Medicated Communicaion
According to Thurlow (2004), not only does it take longer to start the process of communication, when technology is used, but it also takes longer to receive and digest feedback from other participants. It also increases the possibility of misunderstanding when people communicate from different parts of the world, belonging to different cultures, as stated by Reigelsberger (2003). The study also indicates that for the communication to be affected, it is crucial to establish trust between the participants which is much easier to accomplish in face to face communication.
As technology plays a key part in computer mediated technology, there is always a chance of something going wrong, such as the disruption in communication flow or the system itself going down. Then there is always wastage of time in setting up the system to communicate, handling of the equipment and monitoring the system throughout the meeting. Even with the difficulties of computer-mediated communication, as stated above, it is still turning out to be very popular, with more organization adopting this approach mainly because of the benefits it provides in terms of reducing cost and saving time.
One way to overcome some of the issues with computer mediated communication is by increasing the interaction of participants by training them to be more aware of their surrounding. Participants can be given tips on how to receive and give visual acknowledgement thus improving the human computer interaction, which is discussed in much more detail later in this report. As Dix et al. (2004) states computer mediated communication can be based on many different technologies such as e-mails, chat rooms, instant essages, video based systems and bulletin boards. This report only covers video conferencing technology, used to conduct virtual sessions. The justification for only discussing video conferencing technology in this research report is that it is widely used by many organizations and also due to the restriction of word limit for this research report. 2. 2 Video Conferencing Video conference system enable the participants to communicate with each other with the help of technology, different from the traditional method of communication (Firestone, 2007).
In organisations more time is spent on web conferences compared to face to face meetings (www. Polycom. com) and according to Linsenbach (2009), apart from multinational organisations, both small-to medium sized business are adopting video conference system as the current economic situation is making is very difficulty to travel. Companies need to ensure that time spent in video conferencing is both effective and efficient. ‘Video conferencing is a trend of future communications. With the improvement of broadband network technologies, video conferencing becomes possible in the global society.
It is feasible to use video conferencing technologies to organize future international conferences. As such, transportation and accommodation costs are saved. ‘ (Shih, et al. 2001:55) Dedicated systems can be used for video conferencing or desktop/laptops systems can be used to carry out video conferencing functions. Dedicated systems are usually held in organizations in allocated rooms and allows a group of people to participate in a meeting at the same time which is not possible if desktop or laptops systems are used. This report will discuss the use of dedicated systems for video conferencing.
According to Kim (2008), Video conferencing systems consist of both video and audio transmissions that are used simultaneously which enables the participants from more than one location to communicate. Another positive feature of video conferencing system is that with audio and video transmission, it also allows the participants to share their documents and information held on their computers with other participants. (www. Polycom. com). Video conference systems usually have a video input, video output, data transfer, audio output and audio input components. In his system both the audio and video steams are digitally compressed (Kim, 2008). These compressed streams are then divided into packets which are then transmitted over the network (www. Cisco. com). A suitable video conference system should consist of a video codecs to offer the highest quality and lowest bit rate with Sessions Initiation Protocol (www. Cisco. com). According to O’Connail, et al. (1993), CODEC is a process through which compression takes place on video signals by removing spatially and temporally redundant data and the video signal is then decompressed when it reaches the other side.
It should have high definition cameras with high definition encoding/decoding. and advanced audio coding with low delay with multi channel spatial audio with echo cancellation and interference filters to eliminate feedback from mobile devices. Along with these technical specifications it is also crucial to have the environment that can positively utilize the visual and audio of the system. Different software application can be used for video conferencing. One is IP Telephony, which is a based on IP phones and call processing systems provided by several telecommunications vendors.
Telephone technology is used so the system can simply a launch to connect several video conference systems (www. Cisco. com). According to Draper (2002) before starting a video conference meeting it is necessary to check that the connection call is working, that is, to check if the call is made and connected successfully to the other system. As there is technology involved, it is important that a person with experience should operate the controls. whilst setting up the video conferencing it is important to take sound into account and make sure that all the participants can hear clearly (Draper, 2002).
The cameras should be angled so that they cover all the participants in the room. The zoom should be at a level that all the participants feel comfortable using it. One the connection is made, participants can hear and see each other and the person operating the controls can change the direction of the camera throughout the meeting to either focus on an individual or to cover the whole group. 2. 3 Use of Video Conferencing in Different Sectors Virtual environment has also started to impact the field of research and according to Keraminiyage, et al. 2009) Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is a new and interesting concept to collaborate researchers spreads across different areas. VRE is seen more as a tool used by researchers to manage their research projects such as communicating with other researchers to solve complex problems. ‘Moreover, the ever increasing demand for diversified expertise within a single research project has also made research collaborations popular both among researchers and funding organisations’ (Keraminiyage, et al. 2009: 131) This illustrates how the use of virtual environment in the research field is admired.
According to TANDBERG, another well-known company for providing video conferencing, the financial sector is increasing the use of video conferencing. Organisations are using this technology to increase profit by providing special services and reducing overhead expenses such as extra staff. (www. tandberg. com). Some of the benefits experienced by these organisations are ensuring that standards of operation are kept up to date in all locations, improving profitability, reducing travel time, improving training efficiency, improving communication and creating new possibilities for the business
Educational institutes also benefited from the global village with universities having their campuses at different locations. According to Coventry (1995), there is an increase in the number of institutions using the technology of video conferencing. With increase in the advancement of technology, especially in video conferencing, the difference between traditional leaning and distance learning is shrinking. (Coventry, 1995). According to JANET, The UK’s Education and Research Network, the drop in equipment prices and the increase in internet speed has made it possible for video conference technology to move into the universities. http://www. ja. net). Educational institutes are using the technology of video conferencing to achieve several tasks such as carrying out job interviews and teacher/lecturer evaluation. Project collaboration and staff meetings with other organisations are also made possible with the use of this technology. (http://www. ja. net). This provides both the students and lecturers with greater access to knowledge and expertise available across the world. As it facilitates distance learning it increases the number of students enrolling on the course thus generating revenue for the institution.
Rural institutes in Australia has expanded drastically with help of video conferencing as it helps to create a virtual central location for both the tutors and the students (Coventry, 1995). The civil sector is another interesting sector which is taking up the video conferencing technology. Introduction of video conferencing in courts has changed the traditional court system, enabling people to participate in the court hearing from a remote location. Use of virtual court allows quick decision as it cuts any hold-ups caused by transportation, paperwork or person not turning up to the court. (BBC, 2009).
As people participate in the hearing remotely, decision regarding a case can be made within hours of the arrest. This not only helps to resolve the cases quicker but it also saves valuable police time which can be used for other tasks. Video conferencing has the potential to change the traditional method of court hearing and court sentencing, making it possible for the justice system to enter into a new era. As a whole the use of this technology in the justice system is unique and interesting which is improving the standard of service provided to the participants in a court case. (BBC, 2009). 2. Human Interaction The features and attributes associated with humans communicating with each other through technology in comparison to face to face communication is very different (Dix et al. 2004). In the more traditional face to face method of communication, the participants also exchange through other forms of communication other than the spoken word, such as eye contact and gaze, body language and the pitch of the voice (Dix et al. 2004). This helps the participants to understand the mood and attitude of the other person and also to acknowledge the visual feedback in terms of head movement or eye ontact. It can be argued that face to face communication is the most affective way to conduct meeting but it does come but some limitations such as the necessity for the physical presence of participants in the same venue. In order for any communication to take place it is important to establish trust between the participants. Trust between the participants is necessary and crucial in order to have an effective communication, which comes naturally in face to face communication.
It is more difficult however to achieve this when participants are at distance with one another and are connected through technology. Trust increases when the channel of interaction between the participants is rich and is within the comfortable zone (Riegelsberger, Sasse and McCarthy, 2003). It is not always possible to achieve this trust and level of comfort when technology is used, as Rosenberg (2002) argues that the human behavior is different when communication is done through a video conference system. Cultural background also plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the video conference meeting.
People from different cultural backgrounds can have slightly different understanding of the same situation (Archer, 1997). A participant from China for example may have a different understanding of a particular body gesture compared to someone from America, which in a face to face meeting could be quickly and easily handled but could cause confusion and misunderstanding in video conference meeting. Similarly the use of language is also vital in a video conference meeting. People from different cultural backgrounds need to use a common language when communicating, which is usually English.
This raises many difficulties, which are not normally present during a face to face communication. As microphone and speakers are used to transfer speech of the participants from one location to another, understanding someone with a different accent and pronunciation can be very difficult. This could cause the participant to repeat the same thing which could not only be frustrating but also time consuming (Archer, 1997). As visual output is restricted in video conferencing, this reduces the feedback given by body language.
If words or sentences are not clearly spoken there is a greater risk that they are misunderstood by the other participants. This could result in having a outcome of the meeting which is completely different than what was originally desired. Receiving and providing feedback during any form of communication is crucial in establishing a common ground. According to Rosenberg (2002), providing and obtaining feedback can be difficult due to visual limitation in a video conference meeting so that participants need to make extra effort in order to fill this gap.
According to Dix et al. (2004) when communicating through video conferencing face expression, tune of the speech, eye contact and body language plays an important part. Positive increase in the use of these features during the virtual session can provide a rich channel of interaction between the participants which could increase the overall effectiveness of the meeting. 2. 4. 1 Eye Contact – Placement of the camera. One of the most important elements in any kind of visual communication is eye contact.
Eye contact between the participants provides a sense of comfort and helps to conduct communication in an easier manner. This element is relatively easy to achieve during a face to face communication but according to Chen (2002), it is difficult to achieve and maintain eye contact in a video conference system therefore restricting its effectiveness. Presence of eye contact also helps to transfer the role of the speaker and reduces the confusion and misunderstanding of who should speak next in the meeting. In order to communicate with each other by videoconferencing with a sense of reality, one of the most important problems is how to support eye contact among participants and provide life-size portraits of them. ‘ (Okada, et al. 1994 :386) Chen (2002), further argues that communication can have a greater impact if the participants engage in direct eye contact rather than looking below, left or right of the other participant`s eye. One of the reasons for not achieving eye contact between the participants in a video conferencing system is due to the placement of the camera.
Wrong placement of the camera causes the participants to either look down or up instead of looking directly into the eyes of the other participant (Chen, 2002). According to Grayson ; Monk (2003), configuring the equipment correctly can raise the level of eye contact between the participants which could help to make the video conference more effective. One solution suggested to overcome this issue by Chen (2002) is moving the level of the camera to a suitable place so that when the participants look at the screen they can have eye contact with the participants at the remote site.
This claim is also supported by other researchers, ‘Mutual gaze is an important conversational resource, but is difficult to provide using conventional video conferencing equipment due to the disparity between the position of the camera and the position of the eyes on the screen’. Grayson ; Monk (2003). ‘Our experimental results suggest the precision requirements for camera positioning in a videoconferencing system and simple improvements Because our sensitivity in the downward direction is lower than in other directions, the camera should be placed above the display to support eye contact’ (Chen, 2002 : 55).
This suggested that an environment for achieving eye contact can be provided by placing the camera on top of the display. Conclusions drawn by Grayson and Monk (2003) in their experiment also suggest that by configuring the equipment correctly, it is possible for the participants to establish eye contact with ease. They further support Chen (2002) claim that to maximize participants ability to achieve eye contact the camera should be placed above the display.
Previous literature presented by Grayson ; Monk (2003) and Chen (2002) clearly indicates the importance of having an eye contact between the participants during a video conference meeting, which can be obtained by configuring the equipment. Although moving the level of the camera can be considered as the technical adjustment of the system, the participants still need to establish and maintain eye contact on their own accord, which comes with experience and practice. 2. 4. 2 Non-verbal Communication – Gestures
The increase in the number of people experiencing video conference technology has made the human response and behaviour during the use of video conference technology very interesting to research (Isaacs ; Tang, 1994). As video conference systems provide both audio and visual to the participants, it gives the opportunity to engage in both verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication such as smiling, movement of the head and hands plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the video conference meeting. According to Vladimir, et al. 1997), correct and effective use of gestures during visual communication can built trust between the participants. This not only helps to achieve a desired environment required for the meeting but also reduces any potential misunderstanding. This argument is also supported by Isaacs ; Tang (1994), who suggest that gestures can be used to enable rich interaction. Isaacs ; Tang (1994), argue that people even make physical gestures during non-visual communication such as while talking on the phone, as this helps to express themselves.
Therefore making gestures during a video conference meeting helps participants to put across their point effectively thus increasing the standard of communication. ‘Not only did DVC participants use gestures to forecast their reactions and to emphasize their points, they occasionally responded solely with gestures, such as shaking or nodding their heads, shrugging, smiling, looking confused, or giving a meaningful gesture’ (Isaacs ; Tang, 1994 : 66).
This shows that various physical gestures can be made during the video conference meeting to provide the basic form of non-verbal communication such as participants giving feedback or showing understanding by means of nodding their heads or smiling. Meaning of gestures also changes with culture as Archer (1997), successfully argues ‘In many cases, even when an identical hand movement occurs in two cultures, the emblematic meaning could not be more different’ (Archer, 1997 :81).
As video conference system allows participants from different cultures and backgrounds to take part in the meeting, the use of cultural or regional specific gestures could potentially lead to misunderstanding and confusion between the participants. This could be avoided by using gestures which are commonly understood such as nodding of the head (tilting the head in a up and down arcs) to show acceptance, acknowledgement or even recognition. ‘As we stated at the outset, while we do not have experimental evidence that group design requires such gesturing, the fact that it occurs so requently and naturally means that situations such as technologically mediated ones in which the constraints on and opportunities for gesturing are altered will require, at the very least, some considerable adjustments on the part of members of the group’ (Mathilde, et al. 1995 : 165). This supports the argument that participants have to play their part correctly when using gestures during the video conference meeting. The use of video conferencing also has other limitations when it comes to gestures, especially hand gestures such as pointing.
According to Isaacs ; Tang (1994), it can be difficult for the participants to figure out exactly what it being pointed out on the display screen by the next person, present on the other side of the video conference system. Although the use of verbal context with the pointing gesture can be used to overcome this limitation; for example the person pointing on the display screen can verbalise what exactly they are pointing at to the other participants of the meeting, in order to eliminate any confusion. 2. 5 Critical Evaluation and Theoretical Framework
The rapid development of technology in various fields, during the last few decades, has given birth to globalisation. Companies and organisation have started to look at ways to engage in effective communication as they spread their wings across the globe. Wanting to cut down overhead expenses such as travelling, accommodation and food, associated with face to face meetings conducted between people from different geographical regions, companies have started to adopt video conferencing systems to conduct meetings.
Although video conference is not the perfect alternative to face to face meetings, it enables companies to conduct meetings while reducing overhead expanses and travel time, which has made it very popular. The use of video conference systems has moved from just financial or profit based organisations to different sectors. Civil sectors such as courts, education sector such as universities and even research field make use of this technology to communicate. Human Computer Interaction is central to the usage of video conference system as the effectiveness is based on both the technology itself and the human interaction.
Like any other technology there is always a room for improvement in a video conferencing system, but what makes video conferencing interesting is that the improvement is required in both the technology field as well as in the field of human interaction. Several companies have worked on the technical aspect and have managed to improve this technology over a period of time. Similarly work is also being done by several authors into the subject of human interaction which is mentioned above in the literature review.
This paper is based on improving the interaction between humans as well as with the technology itself or in other words Human Computer Interaction. The need for effective eye contact between the participants and the correct placement of the camera in order to facilitate this eye contact, which is suggested by Chen (2002) and Grayson ; Monk (2003), is an important step in improving human interaction. This provides a comfortable environment for the participants by allowing them to develop trust, comfort and confidence needed for effective communication.
Similarly the use of physical gestures during a video conference meeting also improves communication. This argument is supported by several authors such as Isaacs ; Tang, (1994), Vladimir, et al. (1997) and Archer (1997). The use of gestures introduces non-verbal communication into the video conference meeting, which if used correctly improves the effectiveness of the interaction, as it allows the participants to receive and provide feedback, acknowledgment and confirmation.
Apart from the placement of the camera to achieve eye contact and using gestures during the meeting, another interesting aspect to investigate is the placement of the microphone. Using the right pitch of voice and clear transfer of sound from one location to another is an important factor in a successful communication. Several physical gestures also require verbal communication in order to enforce their meaning which is most likely to be achieved with the correct placement of the microphone.
Mathilde, et al. (1995) supports this argument and suggest that it is important to have synchronization between the voice and the video as it helps to match the timing of the gestures with the speech which is crucial for flawless communication. Affect of two human computer interaction element, establishing eye contact with correct placement of the camera and use of body gestures during a video conference meeting has been investigate before in isolation.
This report firstly investigates how the effectiveness of a video conference meeting changes when these two human computer interaction element are applied together. It then examines the impact on the effectiveness of a video conference meeting when the combination of the previous two elements together with the third new element, placement of the microphone, are introduced together. Below is the table that shows the three Human Computer Interaction factors which are applied together during a video conference meeting to investigate the change in the effectiveness of the meeting. No |HCI Factor |Affect |Previous Literature | |1 |Correct placement of the camera in order to |Building trust, confidence and comfort |Chen (2002) | | |achieve an eye contact between the |between the participants. |Grayson ; Monk (2003) | | |participants. | | |2 |Use of gestures during the meeting, proving |Receive and provide feedback, acknowledgment,|Isaacs ; Tang (1994) | | |non-verbal communication. |confirmation. |Vladimir, et al. (1997) | | | | |Archer (1997) | |3 |Correct
Placement of the microphone in order |Synchronization between the voice and video | | | |to transfer voice from one location to |to provide fluent communication. |Need to Investigate | | |another. | | | This is especially the case for points that you make that are only supported by reference to trade websites (Cisco, and so on). 3. 0 Methodology The chapter gives details of the methods used to collect primary data for this report.
In order to find the affect of the HCI elements on a video conferencing meeting, a combination of questionnaire based surveys, interviews and observation technique have been used to gather the relevant data. Explanation and justification for using these three methods are given in detail in this chapter . 3. 1 Questionnaire Conducting appropriate survey is very crucial for any research and questionnaires can be used in different research scenarios as Denscombe (2007) successfully argues that as long as the questions used in a survey are to the point, relevant to the research topic and are in large quantity they can be affective.
In comparison with interviews, questionnaires are much more economical as it allows a person to gather lots of information from a large number of people in a short space of time thus saving on cost. They are also more convenient to conduct as it does not involve arranging and coordinating interview time with the individuals. According to Denscombe (2007), not only do questionnaires permit the researcher to ask the exact same question from all the contributors but it also encourages the response to be in the form of pre-coded or closed answers which are useful for the research. It pays to spend time on the physical format of a questionnaire. The general appearance, the number of pages, the types of introduction, and the amount of white (or green) space – all can affect how people respond, ….. ‘(Bernard 2005:283) Questionnaire based surveys also comes with some drawbacks as aiming to collect mostly closed answers from the participants that take part in the survey, can sometimes have negative consequence as it could restrict, confuse or frustrate the participant. (Denscombe, 2007).
This can be avoided by designing and structuring the questionnaires in a simple way so that it is easier to understand and gives relevant options to the participants to answer, thus minimizing or eliminating any potential frustration. This statement is further supported by Saunders, et al. ( 2003), ‘The design of your questionnaire will affect the response rate and the reliability and validity of the data you collect. Response rates, validity and reliability can be maximised by: • careful design of individual questions; • clear layout of the questionnaire form; lucid explanation of the purpose of the questionnaire; • pilot testing; • carefully planned and executed administration. ‘ (Saunders, et al. 2003 :281). The questionnaire, used in this research report, has been developed to gather information from people who have previously used the video conferencing system. Questions 1-3 is designed mainly to gather extra information about the participants which could be used for future research. Question 4 aims to find the participant’s experience of using video conference system, as one of the aim is to collect data from participants who have at least used the system twice.
Questions 5 aims to find where the camera was placed when the participants used the system, question 6 aims to find whether they managed to establish any eye contact with the other participants and question 7 aims to find the impact the placement of the camera had on the effectiveness of the meeting. Information collected from questions 5-7 will try to prove that eye contact is establish when the camera is placed at the eye level of the participants and that it increases the effectiveness of the meeting.
Question 8 tries to find out if the participants used any kind of body gestures during the meeting while question 9 attempt to find the impact of using the body gestures on the video conference meeting. Together question 8 and 9 will try to show that use of body gestures increases the effectiveness of the video conference meeting. Question 10 tries to establish if the participants were allowed to move the microphone during the meeting and questions 11 aims to find the impact it had on the meeting.
Together question 10 and 11 are used to prove that correct placement of the microphone increases the effectiveness of the video conference meeting. Before the main survey was utilized, it was piloted on 4 students from Royal Holloway University. The reason for this was to identify and rectify any weakly constructed questions. Although only 4 students took part in the pilot survey, the feedback received regarding the questions was very helpful (Refer to appendix B). The wording of a few questions contained in the survey was changed in order to make them more relevant to the survey.
Once the improvements were made, the main survey was handed out and used in both the universities. Questionnaires were given to students from Kingston University and from Royal Holloway University. They were given out by hand instead of being sent by post or electronic mail. The reason for meeting face to face with the participants and handing out the questionnaires is that it allows the researcher to build some sort of rapport with the participant, which helps in receiving helpful information.
A total of 50 questionnaires were handed out and relevant data was successfully collected back, 25 to Kingston University students and 25 to Royal Holloway students. (Refer to appendix A). Data collected from the survey aid more in understanding the role of Human Computer Interaction during the virtual conferencing meeting, which helped in conducting the experiment. 3. 2 Experiment Observation and Ethnography technique was used during the experiment to collect information as Lee (2000) argues that observation is an unobtrusive measure of gathering data in which the researcher does not come have any nteraction with the research participants. Lee (2000) further states that the method and form of question asking can have a slight and sometimes a large effect on the information received, so the potential methodological weakness of interviews and questions can be used as justification in using unobtrusive form of collecting data. Ethnography involves studying people or participants in their natural environment without interfering (Singer, 2009). According to Anderson (2009), Ethnography is a branch of Anthropology that allows the researcher to observe and listen to participants in a non direct way.
Many multinational organizations such as Intel have benefited from using ethnography on their consumers to market new products as Anderson (2009) successfully argues that Intel now employs several anthropologists and other trained ethnographers. The justification for using ethnography during the video conference experiment is that it allows the researcher to observe the participants in their natural form which permits the researcher to gather such data or information which is hard to collect from just using questionnaires.
Ethnography and observation technique also come with some drawbacks as it is not always possible to observe every aspect of the experiment or to know exactly what the participants experienced. Once the information was gathered through the questionnaire, the experiment was conducted in order to obtain more relevant data. The experiment was based on four participants taking part in a video conferencing meeting with two participants on each side of the video conference system The video conference experiment was based on three different scenarios with each scenario having an altered Human Computer Interaction element.
The same four participants were used in all the three scenarios with two participants on each side of the video conference system. The main aim of the experiment was to gather information on the quality of communication between the participants as one Human Computer Interaction element changes in each scenario. More participants could have been used for the experiment but due to time and resource restrictions only four participants were used in the three different scenarios and as the aim is to gather data on the quality of communication, a smaller number of participants can be justified.
Scenario One – Camera was placed on top of the screen not allowing any direct eye contact between the participants. Microphone was placed in the middle and was not allowed to be moved. Participants were allowed to use their natural body gestures. Participants were given a task to complete by communicating with each other. Scenario one aims to find out how the participants interact with each other when only one element, body gestures, is applied to the meeting. Scenario Two – Camera was adjusted to eye level so that the participants were able to establish eye contact with the other participants.
Participants were allowed to use their natural body gestures but placement of the microphone was still static. Participants were given a task to complete by communicating with each other. Second element, correct placement of the camera to establish eye contact, is also introduced in this scenario as this scenario tries to find the change in the effectiveness of the meeting when two elements are functional. Scenario Three – All three human computer interaction elements were applied in this scenario.
Camera was placed at eye level , body gestures were used and participants were allowed to move the microphone. Participants were given a task to complete by communicating with each other. The last scenario intend to note the flow of communication and the overall effectiveness of the meeting when all three elements are used together. Please refer to (Appendix C) to see the experiment information in detail. The four participants had experience in using the video conference equipment so there was no issue of providing training.
All the three scenarios were carried out on the same day, one after another. Consent forms were signed by all the four participants in order to ensure that they were comfortable in taking part in the experiment and that the observations made could be used in this report. Please refer to Appendix D to see the consent form. After every scenario a group interview was conducted with all the four participants in order to draw out their experiences 3. 3 Group Interviews It is important to find out what the participants experienced during the video conferencing experiment.
The change in the human computer interaction aspects in each of the three scenarios affected the level of interaction and communication between the participants. The most effective way of finding out this information is through interview as Denscombe (2007) argues that interviews are a very effective method of finding out the experiences of the participants as long as the cost and time is not a concern. Denscombe (2007) also argues that interviews can be used to gather in depth information and flexibility within the interview can result in high response rate. In addition to the fact the group interviews allow a greater number of people to be interviewed in the same time, they also have the advantage that they may make the interview situation less threatening for interviewees, and thus encourage them to be more forthcoming. ‘ (Hammersley & Atkinson 2007: 111) After each scenario all four participants were gathered together in a room and were asked a list of questions. Instead of performing one-to-one interview with all four participants, a group interview was conducted.
Justification for using the group interview technique is that it helped to get multiple responses and feedback from all the four participants by asking the question once, instead of repeating it. Conducting the group interview not only saved valuable time but it also allowed the researcher to compare the information provided by all the participants. A list of questions, that were used in the interview, was prepared before hand and the same questions were repeated in all three interviews after each scenario. Questions were constructed in such a manner that the answers received would either be short or closed.
Information on the flow of communication and the overall effectiveness of the meeting is gathered using question 1. Answers to question 1 will give clear indication on the effectiveness of the meeting in each scenario. Participants feedback on the placement of the camera and the microphone are collected using question 2 and 3, respectively. Question 2 and 3 will to try to establish that the flow of communication increases with the correct placement of the camera and the microphone as mentioned in the theoretical framework in the literature review chapter.
Question 4 aims to gather information for future research as it tries to find other ways in which the flow of communication can be enhanced. Question 5 intend to ensure that the participants were satisfied with the subject matter so that the subject matter does not have any major impact on the flow of communication. Please refer to appendix E to see the interview questions. Conducting the group interview helped to eliminate any false assumptions or conclusions made during the observation. Consent forms were signed by all the articipants in order to get permission to gather, analyse and use the information provided by them in this report. Please refer to Appendix D to see the consent form. You need a section at the end talking briefly about how you are going to analyse the data you have collected. Statistical analysis of the questionnaires I presume, but what about the experimental and focus group data? You have to tell us what you have done. If you make the alterations suggested above then I think that your methodology will be fine Data analysis qualitative r quantitative. http://books. google. co. uk/books? hl=en&lr=&id=i-YKKgtngiMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR17&dq=research+method&ots=zV3xB6BLeO&sig=wV0oruUteD4eUecUu6oa02c90hE#v=onepage&q=research%20method&f=false 4. 0 Results This chapter contains the results from the questionnaire based survey which was carried out by Kingston and Royal Holloway University students. The findings from the observation part of the experiment, including all the three scenarios, and the results of the group interview are also discussed in detail in this chapter. . 1 Questionnaire The questionnaire based survey was conducted between 27th July to 31st July 2009 in both Kingston and Royal Holloway University. Although this period was not during term time, the researcher was successful in collecting 25 filled questionnaires from Kingston University and 25 filled questionnaires from Royal Holloway University. Technology and management students who had at least used the video conference more then two times were mainly targeted to collect the data.
The justification for this is that it ensured the participants had enough experience to answer Human Computer Interaction related questions. Out of the fifty participants, 20 were females and 30 were males with their age ranging from 23 years old to 31 years old. The questionnaire was mainly focused in finding the participants experience with regards to the placement of the camera, eye contact and comfort level, use of body gestures and the use of the microphone during the meeting, the results of these are shown below. Experience of using the video |Number |Percentage | |conference system | | | |At least 2 times |5 |10 % | |Between 2 and 5 times |17 |34 % | |Between 5 and 10 times |21 |42 % | |More than 10 times |7 |14 % | |Total Participants |50 | |
All the participants have used the system at least twice. Most of the participants included in the survey have used a video conference system between 5 to 10 times. The number of participants who have used the system with the camera being placed on top of the screen was 30. The results about the eye contact and comfort level are as follows |Eye Contact |Number |Percentage | |No Eye Contact |25 |83. 3% | |Little Eye Contact |4 |13. 34% | |Sufficient Eye Contact |1 |3. 33% | |Total Participants |30 | | when the camera was placed on top of the screen, majority of the participants did not establish any eye contact during the meeting. |Impact of camera placement |Number |Percentage | |Negative Impact |22 |73. 3% | |No Impact |6 |20% | |Positive Impact |2 |6. 67% | |Total Participants |30 | | Clear majority, 73. 77%, of the participants think that not having any eye contact had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the meeting while 20% think that there was no impact and only 6. 67% thinks that it had a positive impact.
The number of participants who have used the system with camera being placed at eye level was 15. Results about the eye contact and comfort level are as follows |Eye Contact |Number |Percentage | |No Eye Contact |2 |13. 33% | |Little Eye Contact |3 |20% | |Sufficient Eye Contact |10 |66. 67% | |Total Participants |15 | |
Majority of the participants, 66. 67%, managed to establish enough eye contact when the camera was placed on the eye level. 20% had little eye contact and only 13. 33% had no eye contact. |Impact of camera placement |Number |Percentage | |Negative Impact |2 |13. 33% | |No Impact |4 |26. 67% | |Positive Impact |9 |60% | |Total Participants 15 | | 60% of the participants suggest that establishing an eye contact was positive for the meeting which indicates that eye contact is a important element to increase the effectiveness of a video conference meeting. 26. 67 % thought that it had no impact while only 13. 33% suggested that having an eye contact had a negative impact. The number of participants who have used the system with the camera being placed on the bottom of the display screen was 5.
Results about the eye contact and comfort level are as follows |Eye Contact |Number |Percentage | |No Eye Contact |4 |80% | |Little Eye Contact |1 |20% | |Sufficient Eye Contact |0 |0% | |Total Participants |5 | |
When camera was placed on the bottom of the screen 80% of the participants failed to establish any eye contact with the other participants. |Impact of camera placement |Number |Percentage | |Negative Impact |3 |60% | |No Impact |2 |40% | |Positive Impact |0 |0% | |Total Participants |5 | |
Majority of the participants suggested that not having any eye contact had a negative impact on the meeting. The results of the survey indicated that all the participants that took part used some kind of body gestures during their use of video conference system such as hand movement, nodding or smiling |Impact of using some sort of body |Number |Percentage | |gesture. | | |Negative Impact |3 |6 % | |No Impact |5 |10 % | |Positive Impact |42 |84 % | |Total Participants |50 | | Obvious majority of participants, 84%, claimed that using some sort of body gestures increased the effectiveness of the meeting. 0% said that it did not had any impact and only 6% thought that it had a negative impact. Out of 50 participants 35 were allowed to move the microphone during the video conference meeting while 15 participants had no control over the placement of the microphone. |Impact on the meeting from moving the |Number |Percentage | |microphone | | | |Negative Impact |10 |28. % | |No Impact |8 |22. 9% | |Positive Impact |17 |48. 5 % | |Total Participants |35 | | When participants were allowed to move the microphone, most of the participants, 48. 5%, claim that it had a positive impact on the meeting. 28. 6% claim that it had a negative impact and 22. 9% said that it had no impact at all. Impact on the meeting from not moving |Number |Percentage | |the microphone | | | |Negative Impact |6 |40 % | |No Impact |7 |46. 67 % | |Positive Impact |2 |13. 33 % | |Total Participants |15 | |
When microphone was static, 46. 67% of participants claim that it had no impact while 40% of the participants said that it had a negative impact on the meeting. Only 13. 33% of the participants suggested that it had a positive impact. 4. 2 Experiment The experiment was conducted on 5th August 2009 in Rooms Mx034 and 127 at Moore building, School of Management, Royal Holloway University. It involved participants communicating with each other in three different scenarios using the video conference system.
The main aim of the experiment was to observe how the participants communicated with each other through the use of their body gestures, establishment of eye contact and the use of the microphone during the meeting. Team 1 consisted of participant 1 and 2 and Team 2 consisted of participant 3 and 4. As both the teams were placed in different rooms, observations physically took place from the same room as team 1, and team 2 was observed via the video conferencing screen. Scenario 1 In this scenario participants were given around 10 minutes to discuss a topic. The camera was placed on top of the screen and the microphone was static on the table.
Team 1 took the initiative to introduce themselves first followed by team 2 and then the discussion started quickly. All the participants use different body gestures throughout the meeting and at one point participant 2 raised his hand in order to give his opinion. It was observed that all the participants were struggling to establish eye contact with each other. As the camera was placed on top of the screen participant 1, 2 and 4 had to keep moving their head to look into the camera when speaking and then looking at the screen when listening, this made these three participants look uncomfortable.
Participant 3 kept his eye just on the screen and did not look into the camera. At the start of the meeting all the participants moved forward to speak into the microphone, as the microphone was static on the table. As the meeting progressed participant 2, 3, 4 stopped moving forward to be closer to the microphone and instead spoke from their position. There was a clear indication of interruption in the flow of the communication when the participant moved forward to speak into the microphone. When participants did not move forward they had to raise their voice in order for the other team to hear them clearly.
At several instances during the meeting participant 2 and 4 had to repeat their opinions as it was not clearly heard by the other team. Overall there were some breaks in conversation mainly caused by the participants having to move forward and backward to be close to the microphone and having to switch their eyes between the camera and the screen. Scenario 2 In this scenario the teams started the discussion about the topic straight away as there was no need for introduction. Similar to the first scenario 10 minutes were allocated for this meeting which gave all the participants to share their opinion.
There was an increase in the use of the body gestures by all the participants. Participant 2 made a thumps up sign at one instant and participant 4 moved his hands sideways to show disagreement in a non-verbal manner. The participants head movement between the camera and screen was reduced in comparison to the first scenario as the camera of placed in the middle of the screen at eye level. It was observed that all the participants managed to establish some sort of eye contact and they were more expressive whilst carrying out the discussion. Participant 4 from team 2 even winked couple of times, which was received positively by team 1.
Whenever any of the participants spoke they moved closer to the microphone and this behavior was seen throughout the meeting. There was a clear indication that participant 1, 2, and 4 found it uncomfortable as they had to change their position every time they had to speak. Breaks during the conversation were still noticeable mainly caused by participants having to move closer to the microphone before they spoke. The flow of communication was more fluid in comparison to the first scenario as it was observed that the participants exchanged more information and seemed more relaxed. Scenario 3
In the last scenario participants were allowed to move the microphone at their own will and were again given 10 minutes to carry out the meeting. It was observed that the discussion started straight away and all the participants used different body gestures to conduct non-verbal communication. It was noted that the use of body gestures by the participants was about the same as scenario 2 but a lot more than scenario 1. As the placement of the camera was the same as in scenario 2, good eye contact was again established between the participants. Participants seemed to be more relaxed and there was more smiling and nodding of heads.
The microphone was not static in this scenario, and it was interesting to observe that instead of leaving the microphone in the middle of the table, all the participants moved the microphone closer to them when speaking. There was a clear indication that all the participants preferred to move the microphone closer to their mouths while maintaining the same physical position rather than moving themselves closer to the microphone as in scenario 1 and 2. Although there were still breaks or pauses as the participants moved the microphones, the pause time was reduced in comparison to scenario 1 and 2.
It was also observed that overall in this scenario participants were more relaxed and shared more information with the other team and the volume of their voices was louder than previous scenarios. 4. 3 Group Interviews The group interviews were carried out on the same day as the experiment. 5 relevant questions related to the research topic were prepared and the same questions were asked of the participants in all 3 group interviews after each experiment scenario. The interviews were carried out in an informal manner as participants were asked to give their view on each question.
Relevant information that was retrieved from their answers is given below. Scenario 1 1. How much information do you think you picked up and retained, regarding the opinion of the other participants? Please give you answer in percentage? Participant 1 – found it little hard to understand the other team and had to ask them to repeat themselves. In his opinion he was able to understand and store about 60% of the information. Participant 2 – was able to store the same amount as the other team member which is 60% Participant 3 – said that their team struggled more to understand and were able to retain 50% of the information.
Participant 4 – also struggled and said only 50% information was stored. In general all the participants thought that it was really easy to introduce themselves to each other. None of the participants were able to observe and retain more than 60% of the information. 2. Were you satisfied with the placement of the camera? Explain? Participant 1 – was unhappy with the placement of the camera as he struggled to make any eye contact and missed the facial expressions of other team members as he had to continually switch his eyes from the screen to the camera.
Participant 2 – was not satisfied with the camera placement as had to keep adjusting his head throughout the scenario. Participant 3 – placement of the camera did not bother him at all as he did not looked at the camera during the meeting Participant 4 – found it uncomfortable to keep moving his head and having no eye contact with the other participants. Most of the participants were either unhappy or uncomfortable with the placement of the camera. 3. Were you satisfied with the placement of the microphone? Explain?
Participant 1 – was satisfied with the placement of the microphone and did not mind moving forward to speak into the microphone. Participant 2 – found it annoying having to keep moving forward to speak into the microphone so stopped moving after a while. Participant 3 – said he did not mind speaking loudly as after a while he stopped moving closer to the microphone, but preferred it if the microphone was not static. Participant 4 – had to repeat his opinions as the other team was unable to hear. He was not very satisfied with the placement of the microphone.
Only one participant was satisfied with the microphone being static Rest of the participants showed dissatisfaction as they were not able to move the microphone. 4. What could have been changed in this scenario to make the communication more effective? Participant 1 – suggested that introducing the team before the meeting could have been more useful. Participant 2 – suggested that changing the camera placement and giving allocated time to each individual at the start of the meeting for introduction could improve the communication.
Participant 3 – suggested that it could have been useful if they prepared for the discussion topic before the meeting. Participant 4 – made no comment. Face to face introduction, correct placement of the camera and time to prepare for the topic were suggested by the participants to make the communication more effective. 5. Did you think that video conferencing is an affective way of discussing this subject matter? Why? Participant 1 – said it is an affective way and the reason was that the topic was not very technical or hard to debate about. Participant 2 – agreed with participant 1.
Participant 3 – Preferred face to face meeting over video conferencing Participant 4 – said that it is an affective way for this subject matter as it was simple to discuss. Majority, 3 out of 4, of the participants were content with the discussion topic. Scenario 2 1. How much information do you think you picked up and retained, regarding the opinion of the other participants? Please give you answer in percentage? Participant 1 – found it slightly better then scenario 2 and was able to understand 60-70% of the information from the other participants.
Participant 2 – found it easier to communicate and was able to retain 70% of the information from team 2. Participant 3 – was able to pick 60-70% information from the other team. Participant 4 – believed that 70% of the information was captured and said that the communication improved a lot in this scenario. In comparison to scenario 1 Participants found it easier to communicate in this scenario as overall percentage of information gain and retain went up to around 70%. 2. Were you satisfied with the placement of the camera? Explain? Participant 1 – was more satisfied with the placement of the camera because head movement was minimized.
Participant 2 – was pleased that the camera was placed at eye level as he managed to establish more eye contact with team 2 and felt more comfortable to communicate. Participant 3 – similar to first scenario, suggested that the camera placement did not have any affect. Participant 4 – was glad that the camera placement was changed as the facial expressions were more easily read. 3 out of 4 participants were satisfied with the placement of the camera with only one participants giving a neutral feedback. 3. Were you satisfied with the placement of the microphone? Explain? Participant 1 – same answer as scenario 1
Participant 2 – same answer as scenario 1. Participant 3 – same answer as scenario 1. Participant 4 – was not happy with the microphone placement and found it disruptive to keep moving forward to speak into the microphone. Similar to scenario 1, majority of the participants showed displeasure with microphone being static. 4. What could have been changed in this scenario to make the communication more effective? Participant 1 – suggested that the microphone should be moveable and more time should be allocated for the meeting. Participant 2 – had no comment Participant 3 – same answer as scenario 1.
Participant 4 – suggested that the microphone should be moveable and they should discuss the topic within their own team before sharing their opinion with the other team. Only one additional suggestion was gained which was to make the microphone non-static. 5. Did you think that video conferencing is an affective way of discussing this subject matter? Why? Participant 1 – it is an affective way as the discussion topic was really easy. Participant 2 – as information was non technical and easy to understand, it is an affective medium to communicate. Participant 3 – said it is an affective method but still preferred face to face communication.
Participant 4 – suggested that the informal manner of the debate and the easily understood subject that was discussed made video conferencing an affective way. All the participants were satisfied with the discussion topic and suggested that video conference system is an affective method to discuss this subject matter. Scenario 3 1. How much information do you think you picked up and retained, regarding the opinion of the other participants? Please give you answer in percentage? Participant 1 – believed that 70-80% of information from the other side was understood and retained.
Participant 2 – was able to store 80-90% of information. Participant 3 – said that there was an improvement and was able to retain over 70 % of the communication. Participant 4 – said the over 80% of what the team 1 said was understood and retained. The percentage of information collected and stored by the participants was the highest in this scenario. Majority of the participants managed to retain around 80% of the information. 2. Were you satisfied with the placement of the camera? Explain? Participant 1 – same answer as scenario 2. Participant 2 – same answer as scenario 2. Participant 3 – same answer as scenario 2.
Participant 4 – same as scenario 2 and also added that eye contact established and maintained in this scenario was better. Majority of the participants were satisfied with the placement of the camera. 3. Were you satisfied with the placement of the microphone? Explain? Participant 1 – was still satisfied and said it did not have that much affect that the microphone was moveable. Participant 2 – said he felt much happier and relaxed, as he was allowed to move the microphone close to his mouth. Participant 3 – said he was satisfied and found it easier to move the microphone close to his mouth instead of the other way around.
Participant 4 – was very satisfied, as he was able to move the microphone and did not have to repeat his opinions. When microphone was non static, 3 out of 4 participants showed satisfaction. 4. What could have been changed in this scenario to make the communication more effective? Participant 1 – suggested that sharing documents or hand drawn pictures could have increased the effectiveness. Participant 2 – made no comment Participant 3 – made no comment. Participant 4 – suggested that being able to move the camera to focus on an individual and able to control the volume of the speaker could also increase the effectiveness.
Sharing documents and being able to move the camera was suggested by the participants. 5. Did you think that video conferencing is an affective way of discussing this subject matter? Why? Participant 1 – said that it is an affective way as the subject matter was interesting and easy to debate and discuss Participant 2 – same answer as scenario 2. Participant 3 – same answer as scenario 2. Participant 4 – agreed with participant 2. All the participants propose that video conference is an affective method to discuss this subject matter. 5. 0 Discussion
In this chapter the primary data, which has been collected is analysed and attention is drawn on answering the key questions and issues raised in the theoretical framework section of the literature review chapter. This discussion will try to show that improving the human computer interaction aspects can increase the effectiveness of a video conference meeting. This will be illustrated by analysing the data collected through questionnaire based surveys, experiment observations and group interviews and also by looking at the findings of experts in this field.
Firstly the two human computer interaction elements namely the establishment of the eye contact through correct placement of the camera and the use of body gestures will be discussed individually. It will then be followed by a discussion into the affect on the video conference meeting when these two elements and another third element, transfer of voice by correct placement of the microphone, are all applied together in one meeting. All the participants which took part in the questionnaire based survey had used the video conferencing system at least twice.
Data shows that 76% of the participants used it more than twice and 56% of the participants had used it more than 5 times, which reduces, if not eliminates, any doubts around unfamiliarity with using the system. Eye contact is essential for effective communication. Research carried out by Chen (2002) and Grayson & Monk (2003) shows that equipment can be adjusted to increase eye contact. The data collected from the questionnaire based surveys shows that when the camera was placed at the top of the screen the majority of the participants could not establish any eye contact. 3. 33% of these participants also felt this had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the meeting. Further analysis of the data shows that when the camera was placed at the bottom of the screen, 80% of the participants did not establish any eye contact, and 60% of these participants thought that having no eye contact had a negative impact on the meeting. When the camera was placed at eye level, the majority of the participants managed to establish and maintain eye contact and 60% of the participants though it made the meeting more effective.
Information from the questionnaire clearly shows that having the camera at the eye level not only encourages eye contact but has a positive impact on the effectiveness of the meeting. Analysing the information colleted from observing the participants during the experiment also shows that when the camera was placed at the top of the screen 3 out of the 4 participants showed discomfort as they had to keep on moving their head to switch between looking into the camera when they spoke to looking at the screen when they were listening to the opinions of the other participants.
When the camera was moved in the next scenario to eye level the participants seemed more comfortable. Answers and opinions of the participants in the group interview also showed that when the placement of the camera was changed to eye level the overall average of information retrieved and stored by the participants from each other increased. 3 out of the 4 participants expressed satisfaction when the camera was moved to encourage eye contact between the participants and they also found it more comfortable which backs Dix et al. 2004) where he states that eye contact helps to provide trust and comfort between the participants. Analysing the primary data supports research done by other authors, Chen (2002) and Grayson & Monk (2003), as it shows that when participants were given the opportunity to establish eye contact with other participants the flow of communication and participation level increased which overall increased the effectiveness of the video conference meeting. Verbal and non-verbal communication has always been a part of face to face communcaition and this is also true when communcaiton is done through technology.
It is argued by Vladimir, et al. (1997) that the use of correct body gestures is a vital part of non-verbal communication as it increases the overall effectiveness of communication. This claim is supported by other authors namely Isaacs & Tang (1994) and Archer (1997) who suggest that important information can be communicated through body gestures such as nodding of the head. Analysis of the data collected through the questionnaire based surveys shows that all the participants used some kind of body gestures when they used the video conference system.
This shows that non-verbal communication goes hand in hand with verbal communication. 84% of the participants thought that the use of body gestures was beneficial to the effectiveness of the video conference meeting, which supports Mathilde, et al. (1995) recommendation that participants can increase the effectiveness of a meeting by using body gestures correctly. Observing the participants in the experiment also showed that the participants used some sort of body gestures in all the 3 scenarios.
Observation showed that the use of body gestures increased in the 2nd scenario in comparison to the 1st scenario and it was also noted that the level of interaction between the participants also increased in the 2nd scenario which indicates that that increase in the use of non-verbal communication also increase the flow of communication. The findings from the group interview also showed that the increase in the use of body gestures made a positive impact on the video conference meeting as it increased the overall effectiveness.
This is supported by the claim made by all the participants that they were able to transfer, understand and retain more information from each other in the 2nd scenario compared to the 1st scenario. This also backs Riegelsberger, Sasse and McCarthy`s (2003) statement that use of body gestures builds trust and provides a comfort zone to the participants which is conducive to the meeting. Claims made by Isaacs & Tang (1994), Vladimir, et al. 1997), and Archer (1997), which are mentioned in detail in the literature review chapter, are clearly supported by these findings that use of correct body gestures increases the effectiveness of a video conference meeting. Conclusions drawn from analysing the data collected from the questionnaire based surveys, experiment observations and group interviews shows that when body gestures are used correctly it not only increases the interaction and communication between the participants but it also have a positive effect on the effectiveness of the video conference meeting.
Before analysing and discussing results relating to the affect of the application of all 3 human computer interaction elements in a video conference meeting, it is important to highlight the impact of microphone placement during the meeting. Information gathered from the questionnaire based surveys show that 35 out of 50 participants were allowed to move the microphone during the video conference meetings that they had experienced previously. Out of these participants 48. 5% thought that being able to move the microphone around was good for the effectiveness of the meeting.
On the other hand 15 out of 50 participants were not allowed to move the microphone during the video conferencing meetings they had previously participated in and 40% of these participants suggested that it had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the meeting while 46. 67% thought it did not matter. Looking at these figures it is clear to see that the placement of the microphone plays a vital role in a video conference meeting and the majority of the participants that took part in the survey suggested that the effectiveness of the video conference meeting increased when the microphone was portable.
Information collected from observing the participants in the experiment showed changes in their interactions with each other, as the human computer interaction elements were altered from each scenario to another. It was observed that in the first scenario there were breaks in the conversation and participants looked uncomfortable as the camera was placed on top of the screen and microphone was static.
While in the second scenario when the camera was placed at eye level and eye contact was established with microphone still being static, it was observed that the flow of communication was better and there was an increase in the quality and quantity of interaction. In the last scenario when the microphone was moveable and the camera remained at eye level it was noticed that there were less breaks in communication was less in comparison to the previous two scenarios. Participants not only looked more relaxed with the overall placement of equipment but there was an increase in the quality of the communication, both verbal and non verbal.
Analysis of these observations clearly suggests that when a human computer interaction element was improved to aid more natural communication it increased the effectiveness of the video conference meeting. The effectiveness of the meeting was at its highest when all 3 elements were applied. In order to eliminate any assumptions made during the observations it was essential to conduct group interviews so that the information collected from group interviews could support the claims made earlier. When the camera was placed on top of the screen, 3 out of the 4 participants said that they were not satisfied with the placement of the camera.
Participant 1 said “I was quite restless as I had to keep moving my head”. This claim was supported by two other participants who found it hard to concentrate as there was no eye contact with the team. After the camera was moved to eye level the feedback received was far more positive. 3 out of the 4 participants were more comfortable and satisfied. According to participant one “I was glad that I could see their face expressions….. I found it more relaxing as I had eye contact with them”. These responses shows that when the camera was placed at a comfortable angle and height the participants were more satisfied. The participants were not allowed to move the microphone in the first two scenarios and this received negative comments from the participants. 3 out of 4 participants complained about the microphone being static as they had to keep moving forward and backward to speak into the microphone and if they did not move forward they had to speak louder so that the other team could hear them clearly. Participant two said “I was not very happy about having to move to the microphone every time I had to say something” and Participant four said “I think it was really silly to keep repeating myself… ould have been easier just to move the microphone”. In the last scenario the microphone was moveable and the overall response from the participants showed that they were far more happy and satisfied. According to Participant 2 ” I preferred it……. I think I said more when microphone was close to my mouth”. This opinion was also echoed by Participant 4 who said “it was much easier to talk as I did not have to repeat myself again and again”. These results illustrate that the majority of the participants preferred it when the microphone was portable.
After each scenario the participants were also asked for their opinion in regards to what could be changed to make the communication during the meeting more effective. Responses included having time to get to know the other team before hand; changing the placement of the camera; having time to prepare the topic before the meeting and making the microphone mobile. This information demonstrates that the camera placement and the microphone positioning plays a vital role in the effectiveness of a video conference meeting.
When all three elements were applied in the same scenario the overall level of interaction and communication changed. In the first scenario when participants were free to use body gestures while the microphone was static and the camera was on top of the screen, according to the participants, the average percentage of information received and retained by all the participants was around 55%. This changed when the camera was moved and eye contact was established where the average percentage of information that was gained and stored by all the participants increased to around 67%.
This showed that establishing eye contact during the meeting improved the effectiveness of the communication. According to participant three “I was able to understand more….. it was much easier to understand the other team”. When the microphone was portable the average percentage of information collected and retained was around 77%, which is higher than the last two scenarios as Participant 4 said “this was the most comfortable and relaxing discussion”.
The theoretical framework within the literature review chapter established that the main aim of the research was to find out the affect of human computer interaction element on a video conference meeting and also to investigate if the overall effectiveness increases when all the 3 elements are applied. Collection and analyses of the data from all three research methods argues that correct use of human computer interaction element is vital for good communication and when all the three human computer interaction elements are applied correctly, it increases the overall effectiveness of a video conference meeting . 0 Conclusion This chapter summarises the overall finding from all the three research methods and gives recommendations on how a video conference meeting should be carried out in order to maximise effectiveness. The chapter then finishes by highlighting limitations within the research and suggestions for future work. 6. 1 Summary Many companies and organisations are adopting video conference systems to communicate without having the need to physically travel the distance. Video conference systems rely on both the technology and the human computer interaction aspect.
This report concentrates on three human computer interaction elements namely placement of the camera to establish an eye contact, use of body gestures and placement of the microphone. The research is based on the premise that improving the use of these elements in turn increases the effectiveness of the meeting. To prove this theory three different research methods: questionnaire based survey; experiment observation and group interview technique were used to collect the primary data.
Analysing the data collected through these research methods shows that the use of some kind of body gesture is quite natural during a video conference meeting, and that an increase in the use of body gestures during the meeting also increases the flow of communication as both verbal and non-verbal methods of communication is used. This may be because the correct use of body gestures builds trust between the participants and in turn increases the overall interaction between the participants thus improving the overall effectiveness of a video conference meeting.
Regarding the placement of the camera and establishing eye contact, the information collected shows that the majority of the participants prefer to have the camera at eye level rather than it being placed on top or the bottom of the display screen. The findings from the experiment and the group interviews also shows that the participants were not comfortable and found it annoying when then camera was placed on top of the display screen but were more relaxed and found it easier to communicate when the camera was moved to their eye level.
This was because participants were able to establish eye contact with others and this made the communication feel more natural to them. Feedback received indicated that when eye contact was established the quality and quantity of communication was increased. Participants found it easier not only to put their ideas across the other team but also to understand them more clearly when they made eye contact with other team during the meeting.
This clearly suggests that the correct placement of the camera in order to facilitate eye contact between the participants increases the overall effectiveness of a video conference meeting. On the subject of the last human computer interaction element, the placement of the microphone to transfer the voice, it was established that when the microphone was static the majority of the participants found it frustrating and difficult as they had to either move closer to the microphone or speak louder to ensure that the other side could hear them clearly.
When the microphone was made portable it was discovered that participants found it easier to communicate as they were able to move the microphone closer to their mouth. The overall finding suggests that the correct placement of the microphone increases the quality of communication which in turn increases the effectiveness of a video conference meeting. In general it was noted that when all the three human computer interaction elements were applied correctly in the same video conference meeting, the overall interaction and flow of the communication and information between the participants was the highest.
Participants were able to obtain, understand and retain the most information in comparison to the meetings when any one of these elements was not applied or used correctly. The overall finding draws the conclusion that the effectiveness of a video conference meeting can be increased by the correct use of the human computer interaction element. Based on the finding from the research done it is highly recommended that to make a video conference meeting effective it is important to ensure that the participants have eye contact with each other and this can be achieved by placing the camera at eye level.
Participants should be encouraged to use body gestures as non-verbal communication increases the overall flow of interaction thus making the meeting more effective. Another suggestion that would make the video conference meeting more effective is make sure that the microphone is placed correctly. It is important that the voice from one end of the video conference meeting is transferred clearly to another end and this can be achieved when the participants can move the microphone close to their mouths when speaking, or they can use headsets to make the audio more effective and efficient.
Apart from these suggestions it is always beneficial that the people involved in a video conference meeting meet face to face at least once before the meeting as this will help to build rapport, but as the video conference meeting could be between people from different regions this suggestion is not always possible. 6. 2 Limitation and Future Work Due to time and resource limitations the scope of this research was somewhat restricted, however it provides a stable base to build future work in this topic on.
The questionnaire based survey was only conducted in only two universities with only 50 participants taking part. Although the participants that took part were experienced in using the system, the information was mainly collected from students. A future development in this research could include participants from other industries and sectors such as university lecturers, IT professionals, and multi national executives which would allow the researcher to gather information and opinions from a wider range of users of the video conference system.
This would make the findings more statistically significant. Another limitation was that only 4 participants took part in both the experiment and the group interviews, and the topics given to discuss were non-technical. In the real world the number of people involved in a meeting is usually much higher than this and both technical and non-technical topics are discussed and debated. One future development for the research could be in the form of including more participants in the video conference meeting experiment and giving them both technical and non technical topics to discuss.
Participants could have different levels of experience of using the system and could belong to different age groups and educational backgrounds, this way the researcher will add more variables to the experiment and will also increase the quality and quantity of the feedback and results. The setup used in this experiment was designed to connect only two locations, in any future work, consideration could be given to connecting three sites and conducting the same experiment to assess the affect of human computer interaction elements on the meeting.
Video conference systems rely heavily on technology and any technical problem or issues with the system have a great impact on the meeting. Serious technical faults could even result in losing temporary connection with the other side causing a break in the communication or could result in cancelling or postponing the meeting if a fault occurs which cannot be fixed at that instance.
The experiment conducted for this research did not take technical issues into account and there were no technical glitches in any of the scenarios. Future developments could include adding technical issues to the experiment to check how participants would react to them and if these technical issues have any affects on the human computer interaction elements. maybe one or to more limitation and one or two references.