An Experimental Comparison of 3D Virtual Environments and Text Chat as Collaboration Tools pp637-646
A key prerequisite for effective team collaboration concerns the team members' knowledge about their different backgrounds, skills and experiences. While face‑to‑face interaction provides multiple opportunities for learning about these vital personal elements informally, a computer‑mediated communication setting may make knowledge sharing about team members and their specific backgrounds more difficult. This knowledge sharing, however, may be crucial and should thus be supported also in remote settings. In this paper, we present the design and results of a controlled experiment in which participants needed to share information and make decisions with team members online, in a simulated project kick‑off meeting. Five experimental groups collaborated in a three‑dimensional Virtual Environment (3D CVE), five control groups in text chat sessions. Opposing these two media, we were able to extrapolate the essential characteristics of 3D CVE. The experiment yields first results proving improved retention when collaborating with avatars in 3D environments and provides insights about the value of this media as a collaboration tool.