ICT Results: Attention please! Next-generation e-learning is here. ‘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 have 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.’
AtGentive: Attentive Agents for Collaborative Learners. ‘ The objective of the AtGentive project is to investigate the use of artificial agents for supporting the management of the attention of young or adult learners in the context of individual and collaborative learning environments.
Practically, this project consists in the design of artificial agents that are able to coach the learners in reaching a higher level of performance in managing their attention in the learning process. These agents, which appear as embedded characters, are able to profile the state of the attention of the learners (short or long term) by observing their actions, to assess, to analyse and to reason on these states of attention, and to provide some proactive coaching (assessment, guidance, stimulation, etc.).’
ICT Results. ‘ICT Results is an editorial service created for the European Commission to showcase EU-funded ICT research and activities.’