The effect of communication channel and visual awareness display on coordination in online tasks

Lindsay Reynolds*, Jeremy Birnholtz, Allen Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Geographically distributed workgroups are increasingly collaborating on time-sensitive, highly interdependent tasks that require detailed coordination to achieve success; although success under these conditions is often difficult. Improving these collaborations requires both better support from communication and information tools and a better understanding of how people use modes of coordination, such as explicit communication using audio and text, and the use of visual awareness displays of others' activities. To examine these issues, we conducted an experiment in which groups completed two tasks in the multiplayer online role-playing game Neverwinter Nights. Task performance results showed that the effects of communication channel were mixed and that the availability of the awareness display did not have a direct effect. However, transcripts revealed differences in the processes of collaboration such that in the absence of the awareness display, participants adapted their communication behavior to explicitly share information with group members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2012 iConference
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Design, Society, iConference 2012
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012
Event2012 iConference: Culture, Design, Society, iConference 2012 - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: Feb 7 2012Feb 10 2012


Other2012 iConference: Culture, Design, Society, iConference 2012
CityToronto, ON


  • awareness
  • collaboration
  • communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


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