Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attractive Virtual Professors Draw Student Attention 

Attractive Virtual Professors Draw Student Attention: "There's a simple reason why computers have not taken over teachers' jobs: They're boring, unpersuasive, unattractive and soulless.

That may soon change if Amy Baylor can perfect the virtual professors she's working on.

'Up until now, the personal computer's potential to be a valuable teaching and learning tool has been stymied by its 'soulless' nature,' says Baylor, a professor of instructional systems at Florida State University's Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning (RITL). 'We're using computers to simulate human beings in a controlled manner so we can investigate how they affect and persuade people.'

Baylor is focusing on friendly facial expressions, soothing hand gestures, and a 'coolly intelligent voice' to create characters that are ' both disarmingly lifelike and surprisingly persuasive.'

Early tests show Baylor might be on to something.

The characters -- Baylor calls them pedagogical agents -- will ultimately be more than just 3-D animations and voices. Software will allow them to adapt to a student's skill level in a given subject and provide feedback, both cognitive and emotion"

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