東京大学大学院 情報学環・学際情報学府 The University of Tokyo III / GSII


February 4, 2022

コロナ禍におけるオンライン懇談会の工夫〜Gatherを用いた会話の参入障壁の低減の試み〜An attempt to reduce the barrier to entry into conversations using Gather


私は、公立高等学校教諭として平日は勤務をしながら大学院に通っています。本来は、2年間の休職をして大学院へ通う予定でしたが、コロナの影響でオンラインでの受講が可能になり、働きながら通うことができています。しかし、平日はもともと大学へは行けず、またオンラインではそもそも対面の機会はなく、学生同士の繋がりを産む機会がなかなか ないと感じていました。






The ongoing pandemic continues to limit the opportunities for students to build face-to-face communities. In an effort to make up for this situation, we held an experimental online New Year’s party and get-together on Saturday, January 8, using an online communication platform called Gather. The main feature of Gather is that it allows users to experience a sense of distance virtually using 2D avatars and engage in conversations with others located nearby in the same virtual space. There are several reasons why I decided to organize this event using this platform.

I have been attending classes while working full time as a public high school teacher in Kanagawa Prefecture. Originally, I was planning to take a two-year leave of absence to attend graduate school, but thanks to Covid-19, it is possible to take classes online, allowing me to attend classes while working. However, I felt that opportunities were lacking to connect with other students because I could not go to the university on weekdays, and there were no face-to-face opportunities online.

After enrolling in the master’s program at GSII, I took advantage of opportunities such as the Golden Week holiday to plan online get-togethers on two occasions using Zoom, but I felt that the hurdle for sudden entry into conversations was high. In addition, I felt that there was a difference in the ease of conversation between a situation where you can “go talk to someone” and a situation where you are “thrown into a conversation”.

In this regard, I thought that these barriers would be reduced in Gather, which allows users to explore a map using avatars and participate in the conversation space. This is why I decided to try this app. In the actual get-together, we set up private areas (1) to (9) on the map as shown on Fig.1 and created a situation where people could talk. In the other areas, people were able to talk with people nearby, which seemed to create a sense of space and distance inside the virtual space.

As the announcement of this event was made just before it took place, I regret that several people interested in attending were not able to make it because of scheduling issues. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, there are fears about a possible sixth or seventh wave of the pandemic. I would like to continue to provide opportunities for students to interact with each other from the ground up.

In addition, I would like to bring back the know-how cultivated in such a place to the field of practice and connect it with my own classroom practice in order to connect research, life, and work.

Text: Takuya Tokuhara (Masters student)
English Proofreading: David Buist (Project senior specialist)