Mitigating problems in video-mediated group discussions: Towards conversation aware video-conferencing systems


In this paper we discuss communication problems in video-mediated small group discussions. We present results from a study in which ad-hoc groups of five people, with moderator, solved a quiz question-select answer style task over a video-conferencing system. The task was performed under different delay conditions, of up to 2000ms additional one-way delay. Even with a delay up to 2000ms, we could not observe any effect on the achieved quiz scores. In contrast, the subjective satisfaction was severely negatively affected. While we would have suspected a clear conversational breakdown with such a high delay, groups adapted their communication style and thus still managed to solve the task. This is, most groups decided to switch to a more explicit turn-taking scheme.
We argue that future video-conferencing systems can provide a
better experience if they are aware of the current conversational
situation and can provide compensation mechanisms. Thus we
provide an overview of what cues are relevant and how they are
affected by the video-conferencing system and how recent
advancements in computational social science can be leveraged. Further, we provide an analysis of the suitability of normal webcam data for such cue recognition. Based on our observations, we suggest strategies that can be implemented to alleviate the problems.