Scalable Mind-Wandering Detection for MOOCs: A Webcam-Based Approach

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Mind-wandering or loss of focus is a frequently occurring experience for many learners and negatively impacts learning outcomes. While in a classroom setting, a skilled teacher may be able to react to students’ loss of focus, in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) no such intervention is possible (yet). Previous studies suggest a strong relationship between learners’ mind-wandering and their gaze, making it possible to detect mind-wandering in real-time using eye-tracking devices. Existing research in this area though has made use of specialized (and expensive) hardware, and thus cannot be employed in MOOC scenarios due to the inability to scale beyond lab settings. In order to make a step towards scalable mind-wandering detection among online learners, we propose the use of ubiquitously available consumer grade webcams. In a controlled study, we compare the accuracy of mind-wandering detection from gaze data recorded through a standard webcam and recorded through a specialized and high-quality eye tracker. Our results suggest that a large-scale application of webcam-based mind-wandering detection in MOOCs is indeed possible.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationData Driven Approaches in Digital Education
Subtitle of host publication12th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2017, Tallinn, Estonia, September 12-15, 2017, Proceedings
EditorsE. Lavoué, H. Drachsler, K. Verbert, J. Broisin, M. Pérez-Sanagustín
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-66610-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-66609-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event12th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning: EC-TEL 2017 - Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 12 Sep 201715 Sep 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science Also part of the Information Systems and Applications, incl. Internet/Web, and HCI book sub series (LNISA, volume 10474)
ISSN (Electronic)0302-9743


Conference12th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning


  • Learning analytics
  • MOOCs
  • Mind-wandering
  • Eye tracking


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