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congregate.live

Sep 01, 2020 2020-09-01

Social Media

Videoconferencing System That Brings Online the Interactivity of In-Person

Bryan Lee, a rising senior at Harvard University, has spent the last several months building a videoconferencing system called Congregate. Its purpose is to recreate the moment of walking into a room and choosing which group of people to sit with—in this case, on a group video call rather than in a physical classroom. For instance, a teacher could use Congregate to create an online classroom where students would see a series of icons of tables and pictures of faces showing who is sitting at each table. Clicking or tapping the icon of an empty chair would take the participant to a video call with others at that table. The approach aims to solve a major downside of remote learning—a sense of social isolation as students and teachers sit alone at laptops. Harvard plans to experiment with the technology in the fall. Meanwhile, a beta version is available for other academic institutions and K–12 schools to try.

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