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3.3 Communication media

Whatever task and group members have been selected, the collaboration may not work because the medium used for communication is not adequate. It would be beyond the scope of this paper to describe each available media. Basically, most of current widely available Internet-based tools use text-based communication, synchronous or asynchronous, with mostly fixed graphics and images. Voice and video interaction or voice and video mail are of course available, but the overload of standard networks and the limits of currently available hardware has postponed their larger use in current distance education.

Most of the mechanisms described in the previous section can be conveyed via text-based communication, but with some perturbations. For instance, the cost of interaction being higher with text, the group members may reduce the number of disambiguating sub-dialogues used in social-grounding. At the opposite, in asynchronous text messages, they have more time to build sentences which are less ambiguous. Without video link, members also loose facial expressions which are useful to monitor the partner's understanding. Even with video images, they may see their partner but ignore where the partner looks, something which is important for understanding what she refers to. Some video system support eye contact with appear to be related to metacognitive aspects [22].

ICCAI 95 article - 08 FEB 95
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