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Technology-driven interactions are becoming commonplace, particularly as online classes, telecommuting, and virtual meetings across distances and time zones have all increased in popularity. Platforms such as Google Meet, Skype, Webex, and Zoom use synchronous audio-visual communication supported by text-based chat, emoticon responses, and other supplementary functions. Given this uptick in the use of video conferencing with dynamic integrated features, it is important to understand how attention and cognitive resources may be taxed in these environments, and what that may ultimately do to participants’ ability to comprehend the target content. In the current study, we investigated the impact of topically-relevant student-initiated text chat frequency on comprehension during an online lecture. The findings revealed that chat involvement alone does not affect learning itself. Chat activity was found to not be a distraction but in fact, a facilitator of increased confidence in learning in an online lecture environment when controlling for other outside distractions. Overall, the findings suggest that relevant chat content is not distracting, and can be helpful in reinforcing concepts through supportive examples in adjacent modalities.
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