Eye tracking for educational research

30th September 2016
Posted By : Joe Bush
Eye tracking for educational research

SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) has launched a new framework for educational researchers that collects eye tracking and behavioural data from up to 40 students simultaneously. The solution makes large scale educational research easier as it allows for full operator control from a central workstation.

The SMI Digital Classroom is a complete solution that includes PCs, eye trackers and software in a package that is customised to the demands of the user - including the number of workstations required. It can be used with all students sitting together in a traditional classroom environment or situated in multiple locations.

Launching the product, SMI Product Manager Dr Markus Plank said: “At what point does a student lose interest in learning or simply miss key information? This product promises a wealth of data about what works in a classroom environment and what doesn’t - where and when students' attention is won and lost, and longer term, gives researchers insights that shape curriculum and learning strategies.”

Dr Sascha Tamm from the Center for Applied Neuroscience at Germany’s Free University successfully used an early release of the Digital Classroom to conduct reading experiments with children. He said users of the upgraded, launch product will benefit from the improved control it affords the researcher.

“In the past, multi-station experiments have meant going from PC to PC to say, start the experiment. Being able to control all aspects remotely means uniform experimental conditions and a more manageable research environment,” he said.

Digital Classroom works in all five stages of the study process:

  • Design dynamic experiments with multi-sensory stimuli including text, images, video and dynamic websites.
  • Assign experiments selectively or collectively to students in the Digital Classroom.
  • Collect research grade eye tracking and behavioural data.
  • Monitor in real time students’ screens, visual attention, behavioural actions and live data quality.
  • Analyse gaze and reading behaviour using rich visualisations and comprehensive statistics.

With this ‘design to analysis’ functionality, Dr Plank said Digital Classroom offers an ease-of-use that has not been seen in previous multi-station eye tracking set-ups.

He said: “One operator, located at a single PC, can deploy experiments, monitor progress live, interact with a single student if required, and monitor incoming research grade data. None of this requires deep technical or IT expertise so instead of losing time with technical issues, researchers can focus on scientific questions.”

Beyond educational research, Digital Classroom will appeal to verticals including marketing research and professional training.

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