n South African Computer Journal - Small group collaboration and presence in a virtual environment




Presence in Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) can be classified into personal presence and co-presence. Personal presence is having a feeling of "being there" in the CVE oneself. Co-presence is having a feeling that one is in the same place as the other participants, and that one is collaborating with real people. In this paper we describe an experiment to investigate the effects that small group collaboration and interaction has on personal presence and specially co-presence in a CVE. We hypothesise that collaboration and interaction enhances co-presence in a CVE. We found that there was a large difference in co-presence between two CVEs which produced different levels of collaboration and interaction. This supports our hypotheses that just having virtual representations of others is not sufficient to create a high sense of co-presence, and that one needs collaboration and interaction in order to enhance co-presence in a CVE. We also found that. We measured personal presence subjectively, using a questionnaire developed by Slater et al. We have developed a co-presence questionnaire which assesses the levels of co-presence subjectively. We have also developed a collaboration questionnaire which measures group collaboration subjectively, as well as the degree of enjoyment and comfort with others in the group.


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