MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence
and Pedagogical Agents
George Veletsianos, PhD
Canada Research Chair, Associate...
School of Education and Technology
http://tinyurl.com/RRUMALAT
An opportune time
Today’s roadmap
1.  The MOOC as a sociocultural phenomenon
2.  Automation of teaching historically, and in the
context of ...
- #change11 cMOOC
- MOOCs repurposed in my
courses (for student
analyses)
- Teaching an open course
in the Fall (Networked...
- #change11 cMOOC
- MOOCs repurposed in my
courses (for student
analyses)
- Teaching an open course
in the Fall (Networked...
The MOOC as a sociocultural
phenomenon
(with Rolin Moe)
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
•  A symptom of the belief that ed...
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
•  A symptom of the belief that ed...
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
•  A symptom of the belief that ed...
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
•  A symptom of the belief that ed...
If the MOOC is not just a learning model,
what is it?
•  A response to increasing costs
•  A symptom of the belief that ed...
The automation of teaching
An “industrial revolution” must occur in education, one
“in which educational science and the ingenuity of
educational tec...
His solution:
Teaching Machines, devices that he was contemplating
as early as 1915 (Benjamin, 1988).
B.F. Skinner’s 1935 Teaching Machine
Basulto (2014) predicts
an “artificially intelligent machine” could teach massive
open online courses, “lecturing, grading...
“With the menial job of checking and grading
assignments taken over by computers, we (human
teachers) will be left with th...
Enamored with effectiveness and
efficiency
Margie’s future schoolroom in 2157 was
“right next to the bedroom, and the
mechanical teacher was on and waiting
for her… ...
“Regressive trend” toward mass production,
commercialization, and commodification.
Noble (1988)
Has the trend materialized?
“strong pressures to produce mediocre instructional
products based on templates and preexistin...
Let’s unpack “automation.”
Is automation the norm in academia already?
Social media automation
Cross-posting (e.g., Facebook – Twitter)
Pingbacks (blog comments)
Blog post alerts (e.g., Faceboo...
Digital literacies?
Scholarly literacies?
We should contrast these activities to the
automation of teaching that is eviden...
Case Study
Tools à Functions
Email Scheduler à coordination
Study Group via OpenStudy à Pedagogical
Support
Interactive coding via...
These artifacts “remove the need for
exposure to teachers, by providing
participants with peer interactions and
automated ...
Automated courses: for learners that are
independent, self-organized, intrinsically
motivated and capable?
(Ponti in press...
However, even though “MOOC teaching functions
are often disaggregated and delegated to
automated processes and community-b...
Learners describe “a unique and powerful sphere
of intimacy that developed for them with their
xMOOC instructor, most espe...
The case of “Mary,” who wrote a short story
instead of an essay and shared the story on a
MOOC discussion board
“The professor was totally checked out, he never
visited the discussion board… and it was just
depressing and discouraging...
The artifacts in the Mechanical MOOC
reconfigured facilitation/instruction.
What other functions can automated artifacts
p...
Pedagogical agents
What or Who is a pedagogical agent?
“A virtual character employed in a digital
learning environments to serve various
educ...
… and not just pedagogical
Back to education: What kinds of goals?
Learning
Motivation
Engagement
Encouragement
Comfort
Believability
Play & Fun
Complexity of the field
•  Empirical evidence in support of the prior
claims (motivation, comfort, etc) is mixed,
and ofte...
If you were to design a pedagogical agent,
what choices would you make, and what
would those choices depend on?
Example #1: Gender
Gulz et al; Kim & colleagues; Baylor & colleagues
Contextual relevance
Veletsianos 2007, 2010
Example #2: Agent appearance
Domagk (2010)
- Including an agent = no impact on learning (expected)
- Appealing agents prom...
Agent-learner relationships &
agent-learner interactions
•  A few studies in educational contexts - not
the majority
•  Th...
Research Questions
•  What topics are discussed in agent-learner
conversations?
•  What social practices emerge in agent-
...
Series of studies
•  Students have access to agents for weeks
at a time
•  Naturalistic settings
•  Variety of methods: Co...
Results #1: Small-talk
•  Hey Mark, how are you today?
•  Did you watch the [football] game last
night?
Results #2: Playfulness
•  Did you watch the [football] game last
night?
•  Do you have a girl/boyfriend?
Results #3: Abusive/aggressive
comments
•  You stupid [expletive]!
•  shut up. Don’t correct me.
•  Agent: I can’t answer ...
Conflicts
“I hated Joan or whatever the super-
agent lady was called. She asked me
at one point 'Are you testing me?' like...
Results #4: Sharing personal
information
•  I am worried about my exam score
•  My girlfriend broke up with me
Results #5: Agent Role
•  Agent as instructor/learning companion
(results from prior literature)
•  Agent as mediator
–  C...
•  Social and psychological issues are as
significant as technology design issues.
•  How would results differ:
–  with di...
Perhaps what we need is a Turing test for
MOOC instruction
Is your MOOC instructor a person
or a bot?
Thank you!
www.veletsianos.com
www.veletsianos.com/publications
@veletsianos on Twitter
veletsianos at gmail.com
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents
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MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents

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Open courses are a sociocultural phenomenon. This phenomenon represents symptoms, responses, and failures facing Higher Education. In this talk, I examined open courses and MOOCs from a variety of angles and discussed the degree to which MOOCs have portrayed education as a product that can be packaged, automated, and delivered. Empirical research on the design and development of pedagogical and intelligent agents that may be used in MOOCs was also presented. More information here: http://www.veletsianos.com/2014/06/05/moocs-automation-artificial-intelligence-seminar/

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MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents

  1. 1. MOOCs, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Pedagogical Agents George Veletsianos, PhD Canada Research Chair, Associate Professor School of Education and Technology, Royal Roads University June 18, 2014 :: University of Edinburgh
  2. 2. School of Education and Technology http://tinyurl.com/RRUMALAT
  3. 3. An opportune time
  4. 4. Today’s roadmap 1.  The MOOC as a sociocultural phenomenon 2.  Automation of teaching historically, and in the context of MOOCs 3.  Pedagogical agents as teaching automation artifacts in online learning
  5. 5. - #change11 cMOOC - MOOCs repurposed in my courses (for student analyses) - Teaching an open course in the Fall (Networked Scholars - #scholar14) - Research agenda focuses on experiences in emerging online settings (e.g., open courses, social media, pedagogical agents)
  6. 6. - #change11 cMOOC - MOOCs repurposed in my courses (for student analyses) - Teaching an open course in the Fall (Networked Scholars - #scholar14) - Research agenda focuses on experiences in emerging online settings (e.g., open courses, social media, pedagogical agents)
  7. 7. The MOOC as a sociocultural phenomenon (with Rolin Moe)
  8. 8. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs
  9. 9. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs •  A symptom of the belief that education à workforce training
  10. 10. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs •  A symptom of the belief that education à workforce training •  Representative of current political landscape
  11. 11. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs •  A symptom of the belief that education à workforce training •  Representative of the current political landscape •  Representative of the perspective that technology provides solutions
  12. 12. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs •  A symptom of the belief that education à workforce training •  Representative of the current political landscape •  Representative of the perspective that technology provides solutions •  Indicative of scholarly failures
  13. 13. If the MOOC is not just a learning model, what is it? •  A response to increasing costs •  A symptom of the belief that education à workforce training •  Representative of the current political landscape •  Representative of the perspective that technology provides solutions •  Indicative of scholarly failures •  Representative of the belief that education can be packaged and automated
  14. 14. The automation of teaching
  15. 15. An “industrial revolution” must occur in education, one “in which educational science and the ingenuity of educational technology combine to modernize the grossly inefficient and clumsy procedures of conventional education.” Pressey (1933, pp. 582)
  16. 16. His solution: Teaching Machines, devices that he was contemplating as early as 1915 (Benjamin, 1988).
  17. 17. B.F. Skinner’s 1935 Teaching Machine
  18. 18. Basulto (2014) predicts an “artificially intelligent machine” could teach massive open online courses, “lecturing, grading and engaging with students…Unlike humans, machines would be willing to complete all the coursework and do all the assignments…”
  19. 19. “With the menial job of checking and grading assignments taken over by computers, we (human teachers) will be left with the responsibility to intervene and mentor our students” (Yair, 2014 in ACM Inroads) The Automatic Teacher would free the teacher “from mechanical tasks… so that she may be a real teacher, not largely a clerical worker” (Pressey, 1927)
  20. 20. Enamored with effectiveness and efficiency
  21. 21. Margie’s future schoolroom in 2157 was “right next to the bedroom, and the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her… [all the] lessons were shown and the questions were asked [on the big screen].” Asimov (1951)
  22. 22. “Regressive trend” toward mass production, commercialization, and commodification. Noble (1988)
  23. 23. Has the trend materialized? “strong pressures to produce mediocre instructional products based on templates and preexisting content” (Wilson, Parrish, & Veletsianos, 2008, pp.42) “Shovelware” = information masquerading as a course. (Morrison & Anglin, 2006)
  24. 24. Let’s unpack “automation.” Is automation the norm in academia already?
  25. 25. Social media automation Cross-posting (e.g., Facebook – Twitter) Pingbacks (blog comments) Blog post alerts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)
  26. 26. Digital literacies? Scholarly literacies? We should contrast these activities to the automation of teaching that is evident in some MOOC practices & in some MOOCs.
  27. 27. Case Study
  28. 28. Tools à Functions Email Scheduler à coordination Study Group via OpenStudy à Pedagogical Support Interactive coding via Codeacademy à Assessment Ponti (in press)
  29. 29. These artifacts “remove the need for exposure to teachers, by providing participants with peer interactions and automated coordination and testing” (Ponti, in press)
  30. 30. Automated courses: for learners that are independent, self-organized, intrinsically motivated and capable? (Ponti in press; Tomkin & Charlevoix, 2014)
  31. 31. However, even though “MOOC teaching functions are often disaggregated and delegated to automated processes and community-based social learning, the place and visibility of the teacher remain of central importance.” (Bayne & Ross, 2014)
  32. 32. Learners describe “a unique and powerful sphere of intimacy that developed for them with their xMOOC instructor, most especially in the context of the pre-recorded instructional videos” Adams, C., Yin, Y., Vargas Madriz, L. F., & Mullen, C. S. (in press). A phenomenology of learning large: the tutorial sphere of xMOOC video lectures. Distance Education.
  33. 33. The case of “Mary,” who wrote a short story instead of an essay and shared the story on a MOOC discussion board
  34. 34. “The professor was totally checked out, he never visited the discussion board… and it was just depressing and discouraging And I thought his videos were not valuable at all so I didn’t watch them. So, it was almost like that course didn’t have an instructor …there was someone who built the class and created the reading but that was it.”
  35. 35. The artifacts in the Mechanical MOOC reconfigured facilitation/instruction. What other functions can automated artifacts play?
  36. 36. Pedagogical agents
  37. 37. What or Who is a pedagogical agent? “A virtual character employed in a digital learning environments to serve various educational goals.”
  38. 38. … and not just pedagogical
  39. 39. Back to education: What kinds of goals? Learning Motivation Engagement Encouragement Comfort Believability Play & Fun
  40. 40. Complexity of the field •  Empirical evidence in support of the prior claims (motivation, comfort, etc) is mixed, and often ambiguous.
  41. 41. If you were to design a pedagogical agent, what choices would you make, and what would those choices depend on?
  42. 42. Example #1: Gender Gulz et al; Kim & colleagues; Baylor & colleagues
  43. 43. Contextual relevance Veletsianos 2007, 2010
  44. 44. Example #2: Agent appearance Domagk (2010) - Including an agent = no impact on learning (expected) - Appealing agents promoted transfer - Unappealing agents hindered learning
  45. 45. Agent-learner relationships & agent-learner interactions •  A few studies in educational contexts - not the majority •  These studies occur in open-ended environments (not the norm in the field) •  Emerging evidence: enjoyment of social chat, verbal abuse, fun with the system •  Computers As Social Actors (Media equation), Uncanny valley
  46. 46. Research Questions •  What topics are discussed in agent-learner conversations? •  What social practices emerge in agent- learner conversations?
  47. 47. Series of studies •  Students have access to agents for weeks at a time •  Naturalistic settings •  Variety of methods: Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis, phenomenology, open coding using standard interpretive lens, quasi-experimental
  48. 48. Results #1: Small-talk •  Hey Mark, how are you today? •  Did you watch the [football] game last night?
  49. 49. Results #2: Playfulness •  Did you watch the [football] game last night? •  Do you have a girl/boyfriend?
  50. 50. Results #3: Abusive/aggressive comments •  You stupid [expletive]! •  shut up. Don’t correct me. •  Agent: I can’t answer that. User: WHY NOT!? “The fact that he couldn't help me made me really angry… I don’t remember what the question was but [the agent] should
  51. 51. Conflicts “I hated Joan or whatever the super- agent lady was called. She asked me at one point 'Are you testing me?' like we were going to have some sort of a confrontation or something. I've never wanted to hurt a digital person before!”
  52. 52. Results #4: Sharing personal information •  I am worried about my exam score •  My girlfriend broke up with me
  53. 53. Results #5: Agent Role •  Agent as instructor/learning companion (results from prior literature) •  Agent as mediator –  Can you tell professor X that she needs to program you better? •  Agent as partner (sometimes you just want to talk) –  This was an easy assignment, Mark.
  54. 54. •  Social and psychological issues are as significant as technology design issues. •  How would results differ: –  with different agents? (e.g., appearance) – with agents of varied social intelligence? – in MOOCs – in studies of shorter/longer duration?
  55. 55. Perhaps what we need is a Turing test for MOOC instruction
  56. 56. Is your MOOC instructor a person or a bot?
  57. 57. Thank you! www.veletsianos.com www.veletsianos.com/publications @veletsianos on Twitter veletsianos at gmail.com
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