The influence of communication modality and shared visual information on collaboration in virtual teams

Saikayasit, Rossukorn (2011) The influence of communication modality and shared visual information on collaboration in virtual teams. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The rise of the internet coupled with advancements in computing technology has contributed to the increasing popularity of virtual team working. Virtual teams rely heavily upon the use of mediated communication as face-to-face interaction is limited. Many off-the-shelf collaborative technologies with multiple features are widely accessible in the market to support virtual collaboration. These technologies are being adopted to support uni- and multi-modal interaction in various workplace settings. However the influence of these technologies is often domain specific and is dependent on the type of tasks and teams, thus selecting the most appropriate tool to support a specific collaborative task is difficult.

This thesis investigated the use and influence of communication modality when used to accompany shared workspaces in virtual collaboration, particularly in the design and engineering domain. Empirical studies were conducted in laboratory and field settings to evaluate the effects of modality and shared workspaces on collaboration. Novel and off-the-shelf technologies were examined at different development stages (i.e. from user requirements elicitation, to prototype evaluation, to workplace implementation and evaluation of off-the-shelf technologies). The focus of these studies was to compare audio, audio-visual, text-only and text with additional audio communication within the context of shared workspaces. The purpose was to identify whether these modalities have different effects when used in synergy with shared workspaces for collaboration on spatial and non-spatial tasks. The first series of studies investigated how these modalities were adopted in the workplace individually and/or to supplement other tools in collaborative work. Findings from these studies contributed to the understanding of how modalities are selected to support different aspects of various collaborative tasks. A field study was conducted to evaluate the implementation of an ‘always-on’ audio-visual feed to provide shared visual information in the workplace suggested that providing shared visual information for remote users could help maintain team awareness. The results suggested that a careful consideration is required to ensure that the context of use, technical constraints and the quality of the audio-visual feed satisfied the end user needs. Finally, to further extend this understanding, laboratory studies were conducted to compare these modalities. The findings suggested that audio-only compared to audio-visual had no influence on collaboration, while text-only communication required no additional audio to support a virtual design task, given that a shared workspace or screen sharing is provided in both settings. Shared workspaces reduce the necessity for virtual team members to verbalise lexically complex information, thus allowing users to concentrate on the core activities of collaborative tasks.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Sharples, S.C.
Patel, H.
Wilson, J.R.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Virtual teams, Collaboration, Remote collaboration, Engineering and design, Communication modality, Shared visual information, Collaborative technologies, Mixed Reality Architecture
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
ID Code:2068
Deposited By:Dr Rossukorn Saikayasit
Deposited On:19 Oct 2011 15:10
Last Modified:19 Oct 2011 15:10

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