Synchronous computer mediated communication captured by usability lab technologies: New interpretations

Bryan Smith, Greta J. Gorsuch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Research on interaction has provided important insights on how second languages may be acquired through interaction, and on how second language learners use their second language in various settings and tasks. Research into computer mediated communication (CMC) in a second language learning context has been a logical outcome of interactionist research. In CMC interactionist research it is typically the case that the products of data collection and objects of analysis are linear transcripts or chat logs. While these transcripts may help us to better understand the nature of learners' interactions, they are essentially one-dimensional in nature, not allowing one to coordinate learners' actions (utterances, gestures, changes in body posture, etc.) with the language they create during interactions. In this paper, we report on the use of a usability lab (UL) in gathering data on synchronous CMC (SCMC) among non-native English dyads. This UL allowed us to capture video, audio, and screen capture for all SCMC sessions. We demonstrate that this methodological approach coupled with a proposed coding technique brings to light many nuances of SCMC interaction that are obscured when relying on printed chatscripts alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-575
Number of pages23
Issue number4 SPEC.ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • CALL
  • Data collection methodologies
  • Interaction research
  • Second language acquisition
  • Synchronous computer mediated communication
  • Task-based learning


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