Animated Pedagogical Agents for Education, Training, and Edutainment: An AI&ED 2001 Tutorial

Animated pedagogical agents are animated characters that can interact with learners in computer-based environments, in order to stimulate and encourage learning. They improve the effectiveness of education and training applications, and can also be employed in many other interactive applications to assist novice users. They draw on techniques from interactive entertainment, making them well suited for entertainment applications with an educational purpose ("edutainment") and for any application what can benefit from more engaging and entertaining presentations.

In their complete implementation animated pedagogical agents facilitate learning in a number of ways. They interact naturally with learners, generally in a manner that is inspired by the behavior of human tutors; these interactions include a combination of verbal communication and nonverbal gestures. They express both thoughts and emotions; emotional expression is important in order to portray characteristics of enthusiasm and empathy that are important for human teachers. They are knowledgeable about the subject matter being learned, of pedagogical strategies, and also have knowledge about how to find and obtain relevant knowledge from available resources such as the World Wide Web.

This tutorial provides an introduction to animated pedagogical agents, their use in education, training, and entertainment applications, and methods and technologies used to develop them. The important capabilities of APA's will be described and illustrated in the context of example pedagogical agent systems. Common methods and architectures for building and controlling the behavior of such agents will be described and contrasted. Empirical evaluations of effectiveness of APA's will also be presented. Particular emphasis will be placed on assessing the current state of the art in APA research, highlighting recent accomplishments and identifying areas of current and future research.

Background and Technical Premises

No special technical background is required to participate in and benefit from this tutorial. Attendees with a limited technical background in agent technologies will gain an understanding of the potential benefits of animated pedagogical agent methods. Attendees with a background in interactive educational applications will gain an appreciation of how animated agent technology can improve the effectiveness of such applications. Attendees with an interactive entertainment background benefit from the discussion of how pedagogical capabilities are profitably combined with entertainment values. Attendees will be provided with an extensive bibliography of publications describing contributing technologies and methods and current research, which will benefit practitioners as well as newcomers to the field.

Resume of the Lecturer

W. Lewis Johnson
USC / Information Sciences Institute
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Lewis Johnson directs the Center for Advanced Research in Technology in Education at USC's Information Sciences Institute, which is engaged in a number of projects that develop and apply animated pedagogical agent technology to education and training applications. He has given a number of invited presentations on the topic at international conferences and universities. He presented a tutorial on animated pedagogical agents at the 2001 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces. Dr. Johnson is President of the International Artificial Intelligence in Education Society. He also was general chair of the 1st International Conference on Autonomous Agents, is chair of the selection committee of the SIGART Award for Excellence in Research on Autonomous Agents, and technical co-chair of the 2002 Autonomous Agents conference.