Grandfathers, cogs and gloop; learner choices for designs of companion agents.

Childs, Mark; Peachey, Anna; Jackson, Lizzie and Hall, Phil (2017). Grandfathers, cogs and gloop; learner choices for designs of companion agents. Higher Education Journal of Learning and Teaching, 9(1)

URL: http://hejlt.org/article/grandfathers-cogs-and-goo...

Abstract

“The Shift” project aimed to provide a participatory online learning environment, one aspect of which is an online embodied companion agent (or bot) to support the learner, provide advice, and direct the learners to relevant learning. This paper presents the findings of workshops with potential users of the system to identify the preferred appearance and functionality for the bot. The findings revealed a range of attitudes towards both appearance realism and behavioural realism in bots and the functionality that learners desire, and specifically do not want. The students showed high resistance to an anthropomorphic appearance; participants describing the nature of the agent in terms that match the literature’s discussions of “the uncanny”. Realistic behaviour such as personality produced a strongly positive response. The learners therefore preferred realism but not anthropomorphism and these are often blurred together in the literature.

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