Believers and Non-Believers: How Potential Users Respond to the Prospect of an Onscreen Learning Assistant
13 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 13, 2013
Studies have shown (e.g. Reeves and Nass, 1996; Veletsianos and Miller, 2008; Turkle, 2010) that humans are willing to treat electronic media artefacts of various kinds as real in certain situations. This study looks at this phenomenon with respect to interactions between human subjects and an onscreen embodied conversational agent (ECA), known as the Learning Companion, in order to explore the views of these people as to the viability of engaging in conversations about learning with such a device. 20 older adults, mostly retired, participated in this study where they engaged in experimental conversations with the Learning Companion about their interests, and about using the Internet. Findings suggest that there was a marked division within the sample, between those who did and those who did not consider the Learning Companion to be personable and credible as a conversation partner. There was a strong correlation in this respect between the educational backgrounds of the subjects, with the more academically self-confident being more resistant to the Learning Companion’s attempts to engage them in conversation than the less academically self-confident participants.
Keywords: Learning Companion, Adult learning, Internet, HCI
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