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 Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring
23.04.2019 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht CubeSats prove their worth for scientific missions
17.04.2019 | American Physical Society

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Full speed ahead for SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019

Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.

It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...

Im Focus: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-efficiency thermoelectric materials: New insights into tin selenide

25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences

Salish seafloor mapping identifies earthquake and tsunami risks

25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Using DNA templates to harness the sun's energy

25.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>