Exploring the Effects of Audience Visibility on Presenters and Attendees in Online Educational Presentations

Abstract

Video conferencing is widely used to help deliver
educational presentations, such as lectures or informational
webinars, to a distributed audience. While individuals in a
dyadic conversation may be able to use webcam streams to assess the engagement level of their interlocutor with some ease, as the size of the audience in a video conference setting increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to interpret how engaged the overall group may be. In this work, we use a mixed-methods approach to understand how presenters and attendees of online presentations use available cues to perceive and interpret audience behavior (such as how engaged the group is). Our results suggest that while webcams are seen as useful by presenters to increase audience visibility and encourage attention, audience members do not uniformly benefit from seeing others’ webcams; other interface cues such as chat may be more useful and informative engagement indicators for both parties. We conclude with design recommendations for future systems to improve what is sensed and presented.