Communicating and Learning in "Virtual Seminars": The Uses of Spatial Metaphors in Interface Design
Stephan Schwan (German Institute for Research on Distance Education at the University of Tübingen, Germany)
Friedrich W. Hesse (German Institute for Research on Distance Education at the University of Tübingen, Germany)
Abstract: The use of computer conferences as "Virtual Seminars" has become a convenient way to allow spatially separated participants to interact under the purpose of acquiring specific knowledge in the area of distance education. In order to facilitate orientation, to indicate social meanings, and to structure the communicative processes, two different types of spatial metaphors have been applied in interface design of these telematic settings: large-scale metaphors depicting extended geographical areas (campus-sites, buildings) and small-scale metaphors depicitng rooms. Their adequateness crucially depends on the correspondence between the real world domain and software domain. Possible obstacles for this match stem from a lack of providing interactivity, from cluttering the interface with pseudorealistic details and from the specifities of the asynchronous and text-based communication modes.
Keywords: Computer Conferencing, Interface Design, Metaphor, Telematics, Virtual Seminar