Eye tracking allows researchers to investigate the gaze focus (and by implication the attention focus) of people working on a computer screen. In language research, this method has been used to analyse the reading behaviour of first language users and second language learners, test taking practices, and more recently also learning strategies during synchronous online language tutorials. The method has potential to research the strategies of language professionals, e.g. the complex classroom management skills of online language teachers or the search and scan patterns of professional translators. As this area of research is relatively new, part of its challenge and potential is the establishment of baseline measures for attention time and patterns, comparability of results, ground rules for task settings, and justifying the implementation of naturalistic approaches in traditional laboratory settings.
The Open University is fully equipped to conduct eye tracking projects within its own Jennie Lee Laboratories (Institute of Educational Technology) or in distributed locations using its portable desktop eye tracker and eye tracking glasses.