Stale doughnuts and doodling on notepaper can't compete with giant squirrels and hesitant text-speak, if a new study by Penn State University on the effectiveness of group work can be believed.

Researchers found that groups worked together better in online world Second Life than in face-to-face meetings and teleconferences.

Psychology student Nathan McNeese created an experiment in which teams were asked to solve a complex problem, using different meeting styles: 10 teams worked face-to-face, 10 teams worked through teleconferencing, and 12 teams worked as groups of avatars in Second Life.

Facing the truth

The face-to-face teams felt most confident of their performance, yet the Second Life teams provided the most accurate answers in the task.

"Overall, Second Life is a viable option for group work," McNeese said. "But there's definitely a learning curve with it and accomplishing even basic tasks can be difficult, especially if you've never used it before."

What do TechRadar readers think? Can Second Life interactions replace real meetings? And if so, who makes the tea?