Zoom vs. Gather.Town Remote Learning Experiences

This research project investigates the contrast between the team-based learning experiences in the Zoom and Gather.town remote video conferencing platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are interested in understanding the students’ perspective on how these two online platforms impact motivation, engagement with the course, sense of belonging in the course, learning of course materials, and levels of social isolation.

woman in white long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair
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Recruitment Script


Dr. Celine Latulipe (Dept. of Computer Science)

Hasan Saleem (Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Computer Science)

Amy de Jaeger (Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning)

Kayla Duna (Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning)

We are inviting you to participate in a survey and an optional follow-up interview about your online learning experiences using the Zoom and Gather.town platforms in COMP 1010 A03 during Fall 2020. This involves completing an online survey about your experiences using these two different platforms for remote learning in the introductory computing class. We will also be recruiting 10 students to participate in followup interviews (conducted online) about their experiences. The information gathered through the survey and interviews will help us gain insight on how the various features of these platforms support your educational experience, sense of belonging in the class, learning, motivation and levels of social isolation. The survey should take 15 minutes to complete.  At the end of the survey, participants can provide optionally leave their email address to be contacted for a follow-up interview. Email addresses will be collected on a separate form and will not be linked to survey responses. All collected survey data will be anonymous; no identifying information will be collected. The survey is administered through the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and so your instructor (Dr. Latulipe) will not have access to the raw survey data until after the grade revision deadline in January 2020. Thus, your decision to participate and your responses will have no impact on your grade in the class. Students should have received an email with a link to the survey. If not, they should contact Kayla Duna, whose email address is below. Students can also download a copy of the survey consent form here, if they want that for their own records:

Gather.Town-Zoom Survey Consent Form

Students who agree to participate in an interview about their use of Zoom and Gather.town will be interviewed by a staff member from the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and the interview transcript will not be available to Dr. Latulipe until after the grade revision deadline has passed in January of 2021. Students who participate in interviews will be given a $15 e-gift card to Tim Hortons as compensation for their time. As with the survey, Dr. Latulipe will not know which students agreed to participate in the interviews, so your decision to participate (or not) will not impact your grade in the class. To participate in the interview, please email: TheCentreQA@umanitoba.ca

This research has been approved by the University of Manitoba Joint Faculty Research Ethics Board. If you have any concerns or complaints about this project you may contact any of the above-named persons or the Human Ethics Coordinator at 204-474-7122 or humanethics@umanitoba.ca.

To ask questions about this study, please email Kayla Duna at the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning: Kayla.Duna@umanitoba.ca

Interview Consent Form

You can download a copy of our Interview Consent Form for your records by clicking the link below:

Gather.Town-Zoom Interview Consent Form

Final Report

Results from our study show that the use of Gather.Town allowed students to feel socially more connected to their peers while learning online in a way that general-purpose video conferencing tools such as Zoom did not, which is critical for inclusive learning. The interface design and the interactions provided by GT (visual team spaces, spotlighting to share information class-wide, avatar representations, free movement around the space) helped students feel like they were in a real classroom.  The fluidity of transitions from small group discussions to class-wide interactions reduced disruptions and helped students stay engaged. The avatar representations helped students feel more like they were part of a group and increased students willingness to talk. The free movement increased student’s sense of agency and control.