Pedagogical agents are software agents that take on the role of facilitator of collaborative learning processes. They can supplement the teacher with time-consuming tasks such as monitoring participation, group interaction, and knowledge building in distributed settings. The general system building strategy we have employed is to integrate software agents in open source, web-based learning environments. One learning environments we have experimented with in some detail is FLE (Future Learning Environment). FLE is built on the progressive inquiry model and inherits features from CSILE and Knowledge Forum. FLE has been field tested in several schools in Scandinavia. We present findings from a field trial with FLE in two 10th grade school classes in Norway for the domain of natural science studies. The findings have provided us with design guidelines for integration of agents into the system and include:
1) A series of attempts that show it is possible to take advantage of statistical information in collaborative learning environments,
2) categories taken from expert performance (scientific discourse) can be useful as scaffold in weakly structured knowledge domains, and
3) demonstration of a pedagogical agent for scaffolding collaboration and knowledge building.
Anders Morch is an Associate Professor of Informatics at InterMedia, University of Oslo, Norway ( <a href="http://www.intermedia.uio.no/english/">http://www.intermedia.uio.no/english/</a> ) as well as an adjunct professor at Department of Information Science, University of Bergen. He received a Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Oslo, an M.S. degree in 1988 from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has worked 3 years in industry at the NYNEX Science and Technology Center, New York. Morch has been involved in designing, implementing and evaluating agent-based systems (critics) since 1987. His work has been published in conferences and journals in ITS, HCI, CSCW, and CSCL. His research has focused on real world problems: both in academic context (agents for kitchen design) and industrial context (agents for COBOL programming). His current interests include pedagogical agents for collaborative learning environments, learning at the workplace, component-based learning environments, and end-user development environments.
Contact Anders Morch, InterMedia, University of Oslo URL: <a href="http://www.intermedia.uio.no/">http://www.intermedia.uio.no/</a>