What is Visual Telefacilitation?
|Visual || | a text graphic representation of a meeting
|Tele || | distributed live!
|Facilitation|| | to assist the group communication process
When a teleconference is held, an additional person is in
not as a participant, but as a text graphic
meeting recorder. It is this person's job to accurately and
continuously make a record of the meeting as it happens,
and to provide access to that record as a live distributed
meeting map for all participants.
The classic Visual Telefacilitation situation is re
Figure 2: a distributed group communicating with each other via
audio conference call (in this case a richly extended group)
and a visual telefacilitator who is continually generating a visual
representation of the meeting and distributing it live to the group
(via the Web).
The meeting map
a real time written&drawn
representation of the meeting in fact is information
structured for instant use by the telefacilitator for the
Because the meeting map is continually updated at very
short time intervals, the effect of VTF is to add a mediated
text-graphic channel to the teleconference, reflecting and
complimenting the unmediated audio channel.
Visual Telefacilitation combines three ideas: first, there is
the idea of a facilitator, a person whose defined social
role is to assist the group process. Next the visual
element is added, an explicit text
graphic record of the
meeting generated in real time by the facilitator to help the
task group keep track of the discussion content. And then,
finally, the visual facilitation technique is applied to
distributed groups engaged in teleconferencing.
Taken all together, the result is Visual Telefacilitation,
or VTF for short.
Note that the term "facilitation" as used here is
meant to include the whole recording
continuum. In this way of thinking, pure recording is
silent facilitation. And, actually, there is no such thing
as "pure recording;" to transcribe is to interpret.
It should also be emphasized that the telefacilitator is
not moderating or otherwise verbally guiding the
course of the meeting. For the simple model of
telefacilitation presented in this paper, the social
structure of the teleconference is unchanged
are merely adding a text graphic channel which
reflects and compliments the audio channel. So the
telefacilitator is not the person running the meeting; if
there is such a person, then the telefacilitator simply
records his or her comments as one of the participants
(on the other hand, if there is such a person, then he
or she can also coordinate meeting agenda and
process with the telefacilitator in advance).
Finally, it should be made clear that the purpose of the
VTF project is not to promote a particular
equipment system or social system, but rather to
outline a framework within which many different
approaches to VTF can evolve and prosper. The
goal is to establish for VTF activity the minimal
context for maximum communication, diversity, and
development both now and in the long term
an open system like the Web or the Internet itself.
© 1997, 1999 PGC