Talking heads

Sadly not a post about the magnificent 70/80s art rockers, but about an interesting paper that I read recently (van Gog, Vermeer & Vermeer,2014, Computers & Education 72:323-327 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.12.004 (paywall may apply)), which is mildly related to my posting of 20 November on using video for modelng/demonstrations. The authors find that showing the model’s face in a video demonstration has no distracting effect and that it may even improve the viewer’s subsequent perfomance on the demonstrated task. Using eyetracking software they demonstrate that:

‘the majority of fixations, even in the condition that did see the model’s face, was on the ‘demonstration’ area in which the objects, the model’s pointing gestures, and the model’s manipulation of the objects took place. And even though participants in the condition that did see the model’s face spent some time observing the face that could not be spent on observing the demonstration, this was not detrimental to learning; in contrast, it even seemed to help learning.’

They contrast this with earlier studies that conclude that seeing the model’s face distracts the user’s focus on gestures. It would be interesting to see (or do!) a study on whether being able to see the speaker’s face has any effect on the effectivenss of or engagement with recorded lectures.

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