What Do You Get from Turning on Your Video? Effects of Videoconferencing Affordances on Remote Class Experience During COVID-19

Yanting Wu, Yuan Sun, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The outbreak of COVID-19 forced schools to swiftly transition from in-person classes to online or remote offerings, making educators and learners alike rely on online videoconferencing platforms. Platforms like Zoom offer audio-visual channels of communication and include features that are designed to approximate the classroom experience. However, it is not clear how students' learning experiences are affected by affordances of the videoconferencing platforms or what underlying factors explain the differential effects of these affordances on class experiences of engagement, interaction, and satisfaction. In order to find out, we conducted two online survey studies: Study 1 (N = 176) investigated the effects of three types of videoconferencing affordances (i.e., modality, interactivity, and agency affordances) on class experience during the first two months after the transition to online learning. Results showed that usage of the three kinds of affordances was positively correlated with students' class engagement, interaction, and satisfaction. Perceived anonymity, nonverbal cues, and comfort level were found to be key mediators. In addition, students' usage of video cameras in class was influenced by their classmates. Study 2 (N = 256) tested the proposed relationships at a later stage of the pandemic and found similar results, thus serving as a constructive replication. This paper focuses on reporting the results of Study 1 since it captures the timely reactions from students when they first went online, and the second study plays a supplementary role in verifying Study 1 and thereby extending its external validity. Together, the two studies provide insights for instructors on how to leverage different videoconferencing affordances to enhance the virtual learning experience. Design implications for digital tools in online education are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3555773
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number2 CSCW
StatePublished - Nov 11 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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