Meetings in the Metaverse: Exploring Online Meeting Spaces through Meaningful Interactions in Gather.Town
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Online meetings and communication spaces have become a part of many people's work during the global COVID-19 pandemic. While we rely on computer-mediated communication (CMC) daily, we need to be engaged to be productive in and enthusiastic about these online conversations. Only sparse research exists about what factors contribute to engagement to better enhance communication. Engagement can occur in different communication modalities in online meetings aside from text chat. For the purposes of my thesis work, I investigated verbal communication (audio) and nonverbal communication (video) in online meetings, compared to emerging forms of online meetings with graphical image representations (avatar). This research addresses a research gap on understanding if engagement differs between communication modalities. Understanding whether engagement differs between each modality can help us determine what to focus on when designing online communication tools. In my thesis, I used a mixed-methods approach to study the engagement and interactions in online communication tools. I investigated whether the differences in online meetings using audio only, video only, avatar with video, and avatar without video play an important role in terms of engagement, interaction, and presence. I conducted a power analysis to determine the number of participants required for this study, collected the data online, and analyzed the quantitative and qualitative data I gathered. My findings show seven themes that I constructed using thematic analysis. These themes provide answers to my research questions together with the statistical data on user engagement and social presence. Finally, I conclude my thesis with design guidelines for future iterations of (CMC) tools such as the emerging Metaverse platform.
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Joseph Tu (2022). Meetings in the Metaverse: Exploring Online Meeting Spaces through Meaningful Interactions in Gather.Town. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17984