CSCCE Community Tools Trials Recap: Wonder

In our sixth tools trial we went full circle to the tool that started it all: Wonder. Over the summer, an impromptu group of CSCCE members (inspired and led by Naomi Penfold) tried out what was then called YoTribe, a gathering that inspired our ensuing Tools Trials. Some updates to the platform, a new name, and some new use-cases to experiment with later, and it was time to try Wonder out again. 

Since our first tangle with YoTribe/Wonder we have tried out virtual conference spaces Qiqochat, Remo, and Gather; ideation tools Mural, Padlet, and Jamboard; and collaborative workspace Etherpad+Video. You can catch up on what we thought in our series of blog posts. 

Our Wonder trial involved seven volunteers from our community of practice, and was co-hosted by community member Cass Gould van Praag. If you have ideas for future trials, whether it’s a tool you want to know more about or one you have experience with that you’d like to share, please reach out to us at info@cscce.org

What is Wonder? 

From their website

“Wonder is a virtual space where people can meet and talk. Guests can see who is speaking to whom. They move their avatars around with their mouse. To join a conversation, they move closer. To leave it, they move away. Simple as that.”

And it really is as simple as that! Upon entering your Wonder room, you set up your profile, take a selfie for your avatar, and answer any icebreaker question your host has set for you. Then, you use your mouse to navigate your avatar closer to people you want to talk to, and within a certain proximity you are added to their group video chat. 

An image of Wonder in action, with a variety of topic spaces (see below).

Less is more

The beauty of Wonder is that it is largely free of bells and whistles. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and not much more. This is great if you are planning an ice-breaker or networking event where the intention is to get people talking to one another. 

Unlike Remo or Gather, which have similar functionality in terms of spatially-controlled video chats but have a complicated setup process, creating a Wonder room is very simple. You can upload your own backgrounds (think powerpoint slides, photos, or custom graphics), and create custom chat areas for particular topics. You can also get creative with your background, and use it to share information or organize participants into areas. 

Protip: Wonder’s display is responsive, so how your background looks in your browser window or on the mobile app might be very different from how it looks for other users, something to bear in mind if you have text in your background that might be obscured by the video chat boxes. 

But also, less is less

As we were experimenting with Wonder, we realized that we missed some of the features of other platforms. For example, there is no whiteboard feature in Wonder, for participants to contribute to a brainstorming session. Nor can you “pin” an activity to a specific part of the room, e.g., a presentation or a poster. 

For our trial, we were trying to figure out how to run an ice breaker event that involved instigating one-on-one conversations, and so we attempted to line up all our participants along a line drawn on the background. This turned out to be pretty much impossible, since Wonder seems to “snap” your avatar to some kind of invisible magnet. In the end, we summarized that clumping people into the corners of the room might work better.

Protip: In each “bubble” of people in a chat, Wonder spaces your avatars evenly in a circle around the edge. This makes it easy to see who is in each bubble since none of the avatars overlap. 

I want to know more…can I access the notes from this call? 

Yes! Seven members of the CSCCE community of practice joined this tools trial, and shared their comments to a shared Google doc. You are welcome to add any comments you might have, especially if you’ve used Wonder and have some tips and tricks to share. A big thank you to Cass and everyone who attended!

The next CSCCE tools trial: Video captioning

Next week at the same time (Thursday, 15 October at 4pm UTC / noon US Eastern Time) we’re going to meet to discuss video call captioning options, including Otter.ai and Google Slides. Download a calendar invite:

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Disclaimer

Please note that neither CSCCE nor any of the participants (or their organizations) who attend these trials are endorsing the platforms. We will, where possible, ensure that participants have the option to enter the event as a guest and we will not provide any identifying information to the platform. 

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