shadowing study

Visual behaviors and microlearning

Visual Behaviors and Mobile Information Acquisition

Abstract: It is common for people to engage in information acquisition tasks while on the move. To understand how users’ visual behaviors influence microlearning, a form of mobile information acquisition, we conducted a shadowing study with 8 participants and identified three common visual behaviors: glance, inspect, and drift. We found that drift best supports mobile information acquisition. We also identified four user-related factors that can influence the utilization of mobile information acquisition opportunities: situational awareness, switching costs, ongoing cognitive processes, and awareness of opportunities. We further examined how these user-related factors interplay with device-related factors through a technology probe with 20 participants using mobile phones and optical head-mounted displays (OHMDs). Results indicate that different device platforms significantly influence how mobile information acquisition opportunities are used: OHMDs can better support mobile information acquisition when visual attention is fragmented. OHMDs facilitate shorter visual switch-times between the task and surroundings, which reduces the mental barrier of task transition. Mobile phones, on the other hand, provide a more focused experience in more stable surroundings. Based on these findings, we discuss trade-offs and design implications for supporting information acquisition tasks on the move.


  • Nuwan Janaka
  • Chloe Haigh
  • Shan Zhang
  • Shengdong Zhao
  • Petr Slovak