Grandfathers, cogs and bots:Learner choices for designs of companionagentsEDMEDIA, 25th June, 2013
The Shift• Aimed at NEETs – not in educationemployment or training• Ravensbourne based in Greenwich, London,Creative and Media Industries• Courses will pull OER content together• Website constructed from widgets, profileinfo, badges, social networks, drag anddropped between public and private spaces
The bot• Bot is an autonomous interactiveprogram, interactive and social - aka companionagent. Can be text only, can be situated in a 3Dvirtual world (when it is an embodied companionagent).• Distinct from an avatar in that avatar refers onlyto a digital representation of a human althoughNowak, K.L. and Biocca, F. (2003) found thatpeople don’t distinguish.• Previous research indicates learning effectivenessrelates to affinity to avatar
The research• User-centred design ethos• Four workshops– Learners design a series of bot images– Learners vote on these and discuss the pros andcons– Learners trial the bot and give initial responses– Learners use website and bot and we assesslearning.
What do you think?1. Really very bad2. Dislike it3. Meh4. It’s OK5. It’s excellent
Second ThingSo, what should it be able to do?• Must have• Should have• Could have• Would be nice if …
How realistic should it be?1. Like an outlinecartoon?2. Like a detailedcartoon3. Like an outlinephoto4. Like a realisticphoto
Anthropomorphism and realismLow detail High detailLowanthropomorphic1 10Highanthropomorphic2 3
Methodology• Attributed a score for each response on Lykertscale, then ranked the designs• Removed those where responses indicatedadditional elements associated with factorsoutside of appearance were having effect• Grouped them according to degree of realismand anthropomorphism.
Anthropomorphic realisticappearance• Photorealistic facialfeatures.• High appearancerealism.• High behaviour realism.• High presence.• Very low rated.• UNCANNY.• Scored 6
Anthropomorphic non-realistic• Facial features.• Nuanced personality.• Medium appearancerealism.• High behaviour.• High presence.• Medium rated.• DISTRACTION.• Score 8 - 14
Non-anthropomorphic realistic• Facial features.• Nuanced personality• Low appearance realism.• High behaviour realism.• Medium presence.• Very highly rated.• ENGAGING (BUT NOTTOO MUCH)• Score 16 – 21 points
Functionality• Ranking of functionality– Highest: Student tracking and info, personality– Upper mid-range: interactivity– Lower mid-range: growth and change– Lowest: Customisability– Negative: Ability to speak• In third workshop– Students reiterated usefulness over personality– Wanted control over turning personality on and off
Conclusions• Students did not want to sacrifice any usabilityfor “fun” factors• Students wanted behavioural and designrealism as long as it was not anthropomorphic(the Uncanny Valley lives).• There is an optimum level (from the learners’perspective) of social presence in bots, toomuch and they are not engaging, too little andthey are distracting.
Further work• Need to test learners’ perspectives againstactual learning effectiveness• Ideally would work with a design team andlarger learner base to create range ofdesigns, altering the separate variables, toidentify which factors are influencingaffinity, presence and preference.
Further reading• Nowak, K.L. and Biocca, F. (2003) The Effect ofthe Agency and Anthropomorphism on Users’Sense of Telepresence, Copresence, and SocialPresence in Virtual Environments, Presence,Vol. 12, No. 5, October 2003, 481–494
AuthorsMark Childs email@example.comAcademic lead: presenceAnna Peachey firstname.lastname@example.orgAcademic lead: learning pathwaysLizzie Jackson email@example.comPrinciple InvestigatorPhil Hall firstname.lastname@example.orgProgrammer, lead designer
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