Eye tracking: production and reception

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 7 07 37 PMAuthor: Carey Jewitt

Jana Holsanova from Lund University Sweden led a great MODE masterclass on Eye Tracking. We explored the potential uses of eye tracking for multimodal research with a focus on both text design and perception and interaction.

We really focused in on how it can support the design and reception of multimodal materials both in printed and digital media in the context of advertising and education. For example, How do we integrate information from different sources? Do they affect us as the designer anticipated? And the ways eye tracking can help us to explore the various myths about how readers engage.

Through a range of great examples, Jana sketched out two perspectives for the use of eyetracking to get at multimodality: Production and design, reception and perception Dialogue between design intent and actual reception is the focus to see the extent to which the design supports and guides this effect for a user group or to what extent it does so.

What kind of Qs is this work trying to address?  How people attend to, process, understand and remember information that others convey? The reading paths people take, for example eye tracking studies show that some readers proceed sequentially point by point and go in depth in different ways. There are patterns, and individual differences. Some readers create an overview, some just read editiorial, some don’t read adverts, or focused readers who read one thing. Similarly, not all readers can automatically integrate text and pictures, Illustrations don’t always help and not all graphics equally effective. In short eye tracking helps us understand that we can’t take for granted that readers can extract the info from a visualisation and animation.

What can you tell from these patterns? We can get a signal that they are skilled, or at different levels of expertise? But not always as there are many complex factors in the reading patterns – that there are common patterns

Using eyetracking to get at the production perspective enables a view on the interplay of modes and contribution to message, the modal choices that are made and their effect, the implicit ideas designed into texts and how these get actualised by readers, and the ways in which elements are attended to, for how long, and pathways, entry points, relations image and text.

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