Human Factors

The main purpose of using this technology is to facilitate remote meetings where participants are in more than one physical location. Access Grid aims to make these events as natural as possible. There are potentially many human factors involved when people use Access Grid technology, including: how comfortable people feel, how people behave and what makes for a good experience.

Comfort factor - as yet, there has not been a large amount of research into these matters, but from what we already know, it seems that many people find participating in an Access Grid event to be easy and natural. "People seemed relaxed", was a typical response found by the survey report on the first e-Social Science Access Grid event.

How people behave - observations suggest there are certain problems in Access Grid events: it's sometimes difficult to know who is speaking; participants don't know where to look when speaking; some people are less confident than in face-to-face meetings. Strategies can be learned to make the Access Grid experience more satisfying: try to obtain some prior knowledge about the people at the other nodes; having a friendly facilitator/chair who encourages participants to contribute, and so on. (There are guides in the following units to help people to use the Access Grid productively.)

A good Access Grid experience - this seems to depend on a mix of factors such as the technical (video quality, sound), social (friendliness of chair and relationships between participants) and the content discussed.