Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Attention please! Next-generation e-learning is here

20.02.2008
Take an e-learning platform, mix in a large dose of social networking, sprinkle liberally with intelligent software agents to stimulate users and, according to a team of European researchers, you have a recipe to keep students’ attention even during the most testing training courses.

Recent trials of two new software platforms based on this new approach show substantial promise in overcoming one of the biggest problems that has dogged e-learning: how to keep students motivated and attentive. The platforms, developed in the AtGentive project, are designed to aid students in the classroom and to help them continue learning and collaborating long after classroom sessions have ended.

“The first generation of e-learning platforms focused on replicating online the classroom model of teaching, but this approach has not been all that successful,” explains Thierry Nabeth, the coordinator of AtGentive at INSEAD’s Centre for Advanced Learning Technologies in France. “The biggest problem is that students often lack motivation both inside and outside of the classroom, and fail to dedicate their attention to the learning programme.”

In an effort to overcome that problem, the AtGentive researchers incorporated artificial agents and social networking into their approach toward e-learning, employing, in the case of one of the platforms, similar techniques to those that have made websites, such as Facebook, so popular as a means of staying in touch with friends, relatives and colleagues.

Keeping a (virtual) eye on the class…
“Artificial agents are autonomous entities that observe users’ activities and assess their state of attention in order to intervene so as to make the user experience more effective,” Nabeth says. “The interventions can take many forms, from providing new information to the student, guiding them in their work or alerting them when other users connect to the platform.”

In an e-learning context, the agents provide a smart form of proactive coaching for students, assessing, guiding and stimulating them. For example, an artificial agent can alert a student when an article they have posted elicits the attention of other users, or when they receive feedback on their input into a collaborative learning task. In a classroom environment, an artificial agent embodied as an animated character spots students who are not interacting with the system and probably not paying attention. The avatar helps by trying to “wake them up.”

“For collaborative learning to be effective, it is important for people to know how their input is being received by others and whether what they are working on is of interest to other people,” Nabeth says, noting that in essence the team have adapted renowned psychologist Albert Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy to a collaborative context.

It is also important to minimise distractions. For that reason, the agents designed in the EU-funded AtGentive monitor what students are doing and only intervene when doing so will not unnecessarily take their attention away from the task at hand.

The results of trials involving the two AtGentive platforms show how effective the approach can be. One, AtGentSchool, which was tested in a primary school setting in the Czech Republic, helps maintain students’ attention in the classroom using avatars to interact with students on their PCs. The other, AtGentNet, is a social network platform incorporating artificial agents that has been used in a training programme for international trade managers run by the Swedish Trade Council (STC), a project partner.

“AtGentSchool has a more short-term (real-time) and individual focus on managing attention, while AtGentNet is more long-term (asynchronous), and focused on the group and on social attention,” Nabeth says.

More interaction, more motivation, more attention
In the AtGentSchool pilot, pupils stimulated by “attention aware” artificial agents have shown a higher level of satisfaction and motivation. However, whether the learning process is more effective is a question that will require future investigation, says Nabeth.

According to the project coordinator, trade managers who used a full-featured version of AtGentNet for collaborative learning tasks, in the weeks and months in between seminars, interacted more frequently and showed more motivation than two control groups who used a version with reduced features and who used a legacy e-learning platform.

“The results would need to have a bigger sample to be more conclusive but they suggest we are on the right track toward more effective e-learning,” Nabeth tells ICT Results.

AtGentNet continues to be used by STC and the project partners are rolling it out as a service for both e-learning applications and for research. They are working closely with FIDIS, a network of excellence addressing related issues in the information society.

“[Because our platform] monitors everything users do and shares information about them with other users, [it] will be used to research issues such as privacy and identity in social networks,” Nabeth notes.

Dutch firm Ontdeknet, whose artificial characters are the visible face of AtGentSchool, is continuing to develop the platform and is incorporating it into its product line as an e-learning system for children.

In Nabeth’s view, the AtGentive approach will help end the “shallow” experience of many e-learning systems developed to date, while deepening our understanding of what it takes to hold people’s attention and keep them motivated.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89524

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Information integration and artificial intelligence for better diagnosis and therapy decisions
24.05.2017 | Fraunhofer MEVIS - Institut für Bildgestützte Medizin

nachricht World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world
18.05.2017 | RMIT University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>