Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Online Learning's Frontier: Researcher Gives Computers A 'Human' Face

Date:
November 15, 2005
Source:
Florida State University
Summary:
The friendly facial expressions, the soothing hand gestures, the coolly intelligent voice: Put them all together, and she is both disarmingly lifelike and surprisingly persuasive. And while she can't actually shake your hand in greeting, the unnamed, computer-generated character and her troupe of animated friends can be judiciously designed for online learning -- at least if one Florida State University researcher's vision becomes a reality.

At FSU's Center for Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning, computers are getting a human 'face' that dramatically contributes to their role as powerful and effective aids to learning for students at all levels.
Credit: Image courtesy of Center for Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning

The friendly facial expressions, the soothing hand gestures, the coolly intelligent voice: Put them all together, and she is both disarmingly lifelike and surprisingly persuasive.

And while she can’t actually shake your hand in greeting, the unnamed, computer-generated character and her troupe of animated friends can be judiciously designed for online learning — at least if one Florida State University researcher’s vision becomes a reality.

Amy L. Baylor, an associate professor of instructional systems and director of FSU’s Center for Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning (RITL), is working to give computers a human “face,” and her results have shown that such characters can dramatically enhance the ability of computers to serve as learning tools for people of all ages.

“Up until now, the personal computer’s potential to be a valuable teaching and learning tool has been stymied by its ‘soulless’ nature,” Baylor said. “At RITL, we’re using computers to simulate human beings in a controlled manner so we can investigate how they affect and persuade people.”

Every day at RITL, researchers in the areas of instructional technology, human-computer interaction, communication, computer science and psychology work to develop innovative uses of technologies to support learning and performance. They also examine the effectiveness of emerging technologies to support learning at a variety of levels — everything from K-12 to higher education, lifelong learning and online learning.

One particularly compelling facet of Baylor’s research is the design and development of effective “pedagogical agents.” A pedagogical agent is an animated, three- dimensional character that serves as the “face” (and “interface”) of the computer and that can mimic human emotional expressions, nonverbal communication and interactions. (Examples of such pedagogical agents can be viewed at http://ritl.fsu.edu/agentsdemo/.)

Depending on the underlying system’s intelligence, students can interact with such characters in ways similar to their interaction with a human teacher. Pedagogical agents can adapt to the student’s strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject and provide emotional and cognitive feedback, which makes the computer more user-friendly and improves learning and motivation.

“Unlike the Microsoft Word paperclip ‘Clippy,’ which is annoying and intrusive, a well-designed pedagogical agent has exactly the opposite effect,” Baylor said. “It engages learners and helps them focus attention on the task at hand.”

Such pedagogical agents even can be personalized to maximize the response of a particular group or individual, Baylor added.

“Unlike a human mentor, we can control all aspects of a pedagogical agent — its gender, age, ethnicity, personality, message, and interaction style — to represent the ideal persona for facilitating learning. This leads to all kinds of exciting possibilities for simulating and researching different teaching styles and instructional strategies.”

In one of several projects supported by the National Science Foundation, Baylor is investigating the use of such agents to challenge young women’s stereotypes about the engineering profession by employing non-stereotypical engineering “mentors” with whom the target population can better relate. Research like this is establishing a new frontier in the use of technology as an educational tool.

“Although the College of Education may not be the first place that people think of when cutting-edge scientific research at FSU is mentioned, that is starting to change,” said Laura Hassler, director of the university’s Learning Systems Institute, which, along with the College of Education, helps support RITL. “Through the efforts of her research team, Dr. Baylor is working to transform the computer learning environment in ways we can only imagine.”

To learn more about Baylor’s research and FSU’s Center for Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning, please go to http://ritl.fsu.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida State University. "Online Learning's Frontier: Researcher Gives Computers A 'Human' Face." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051115170829.htm>.
Florida State University. (2005, November 15). Online Learning's Frontier: Researcher Gives Computers A 'Human' Face. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051115170829.htm
Florida State University. "Online Learning's Frontier: Researcher Gives Computers A 'Human' Face." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051115170829.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) Sources close to Apple told Bloomberg the company plans to introduce an integrated song identification service during the launch of its next iOS. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins