The Role of Affect in an Agent-Based Collaborative E-Learning System Used for Engineering Education

The Role of Affect in an Agent-Based Collaborative E-Learning System Used for Engineering Education

Mohamed Ben Ammar (University of Sfax, Tunisia), Mahmoud Neji (University of Sfax, Tunisia) and Adel M. Alimi (University of Sfax, Tunisia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-264-0.ch034
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Abstract

Affective computing is a new artificial intelligence area that deals with the possibility of making computers able to recognize human emotions in different ways. This chapter represents an implemented framework, which integrates this new area with an intelligent tutoring system. The authors argue that tutor agents providing socially appropriate affective behaviors would provide a new dimension for collaborative learning systems. The main goal is to analyse learner facial expressions and show how affective computing could contribute to learning interactions, both by recognizing learner emotions during learning sessions and by responding appropriately.
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The question is not whether intelligent machines can have emotions, but whether machines can be intelligent without any emotions.

—Minsky

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Research Background And Motivation

On the one hand, with the focus on innovative and user centered interaction technologies, the interplay between emotions and computers, widely known as affective computing, “computing that relates to, arises from, or deliberately influences emotions” (Picard, 1995), plays an important role in human computer interaction (HCI). Research findings suggest that emotions play an essential role in decision-making, perception, learning and in general influence the mechanisms of rational thinking. According to Rosalind Picard:

If we want computers to be genuinely intelligent and to interact naturally with us, we must give computers the ability to recognize, understand, and even to have and express emotions” (Picard, 1997).

On the other hand, it is often understood that the eventual objective of communication within virtual environments (VEs) is to model communication between humans in the physical world. In order to achieve this objective, communication capabilities within the virtual world must not be limited to the simple exchange of information. Everyday human communication involves a level of affective communication (communication involving emotional states) that is absent from many VEs. Many researchers now believe that affective tutoring systems1 would be significantly enhanced if computers could adapt according to the emotions of learners (Alexander et al., 2004). If human emotions are essential for human thinking and learning processes, virtual learning environments must recognize this to be successful.

If VEs are to truly represent real world interactions they must both:

  • 1.

    Facilitate the communication of affect, and

  • 2.

    Make the agents situated in the environment react in a way that respects the affective context.

An agent that ignores these aspects of the environment will jar with the realism of the communication as much as a mechanical system that ignores the laws of physics.

Our objective in this chapter is to show that the use of affective systems is pat of an interaction problem that concerns the whole interaction cycle, where emotions arise from an active act of interpretation and participation on the end-user side. We introduce a model of interaction between users and animated agents as well as inter-agents interaction that supports the basic features of affective communication in VEs, given that detecting a learner’s emotional reaction to a given situation is a fundamental element of any distant learning environment. This chapter presents an affective e-learning framework based on emotional agents that can partially replace and support human-teachers, by assisting and motivating learners in distributed learning environments (Ammar et al., 2005). We outline an approach to constructing an emotion-recognizing computer system, and present real-time results of the recognition of basic emotional expressions from the video. The system automatically detects frontal faces in the video stream and recognizes the emotion with respect to six basic facial expressions (anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise), as suggested by Ekman (Ekman et al., 1975).

This chapter is organized as follows: Section 2 introduces related work, Section 3 describes affective communication, Section 4 explains the proposed EMASPEL framework, Section 5 gives the application results, and finally Section 6 finishes with conclusions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Peer Learning: An alternative to the one-on-one strategy, co-operative strategies comprise an additional element, namely peer interaction. Co-operative learning systems, called also social learning systems, adopt a constructive approach using the computer more as a partner then as a tutor. Multiple agents that are either computer simulated or real human beings can work on the same computer or share a computer network. The e-learning community is increasingly recognising the importance of students learning from their study peers. When peers come together in a learning context they form an Online Learning Community.

Facial Expression Recognition: Extracting and validating emotional cues through analysis of users’ facial expressions is of high importance for improving the level of interaction in man machine communication systems. Extraction of appropriate facial features and consequent recognition of the user’s emotional state that can be robust to facial expression variations among different users is the topic of this chapter.

ECA (Embodied Conversational Agent): Embodied agents are agents that are visible in the interface as animated cartoon characters or animated objects resembling human beings. Sometimes they just consist of an animated talking face, displaying facial expressions and when using speech synthesis, having lip synchronization.

EMASPEL: Emotional Multi-Agents System for Peer-to-peer E-learning. The first version was in 2006.

Emotional Agents: Emotional agents are intelligent agents responsible for the recognition of the facial expression of the learner. Extracting and validating emotional cues through analysis of users’ facial expressions is of high importance for improving the level of interaction in man machine communication systems. Extraction of appropriate facial features and consequent recognition of the user’s emotional state that can be robust to facial expression variations among different users is the topic of these emotional agents.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Networks: Over the past few years, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have revolutionized the way we effectively exploit and share distributed resources. In contrast to the traditional client-server architecture, P2P systems are application level, collaborative systems where agents work together to perform certain tasks.

Affective Computing: is the Science of automatic understanding of human emotions, and providing tools and machines that can respond to these emotions.

Emotion: in its most general definition, is a complex psychophysical process that arises spontaneously, rather than through conscious effort, and evokes either a positive or negative psychological response or physical expressions, often involuntary, related to feelings, perceptions or beliefs about elements, objects or relations between them, in reality or in the imagination.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Ben Shneiderman
Preface
Brian Whitworth, Aldo de Moor
Acknowledgment
Brian Whitworth, Aldo de Moor
List of Reviewers
Prologue: General Socio-Technical Theory
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Chapter 1
Brian Whitworth
A socio-technical system (STS) is a social system built upon a technical base. An STS adds social requirements to human-computer interaction (HCI)... Sample PDF
The Social Requirements of Technical Systems
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Chapter 2
Matti Tedre
This chapter introduces the reader to some social research characteristics that are central to the social study of computer science. It introduces... Sample PDF
The Social Study of Computer Science
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Chapter 3
Ann Borda, Jonathan P. Bowen
This chapter introduces the concept of a Virtual Organization (VO), using the Internet to link geographically separated participants in an efficient... Sample PDF
Virtual Collaboration and Community
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Chapter 4
David Davenport
This chapter analyses the effect that social values have on the design of technical systems. Beginning with an examination of the role technology... Sample PDF
The Social Derivation of Technical Systems
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Chapter 5
Ken Eason, José Abdelnour-Nocera
This chapter sets the traditional focus of socio-technical systems theory on primary work systems in a modern context where information and... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Theory and Work Systems in the Information Age
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Chapter 6
Peter Day
This chapter introduces the community engagement strategy of the Community Network Analysis (CNA) project and considers its significance to research... Sample PDF
An Engagement Strategy for Community Network Research and Design
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Chapter 7
Cleidson R.B. de Souza, David F. Redmiles
This chapter reviews the socio-technical relationship between organizational and software structure. It describes the early theoretical work about... Sample PDF
On the Alignment of Organizational and Software Structure
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Ronald K. Stamper
Prologue: Socio-Technical Perspectives
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Chapter 8
Catherine Heeney
The chapter discusses the traditional expectations about privacy protection and argues that current models for the governance of data do not... Sample PDF
Privacy and the Identity Gap in Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 9
Ronald Leenes
Second Life can be seen as a social microcosmos in which fairly normal people lead a social life and where social needs develop. Privacy is one of... Sample PDF
Privacy Regulation in the Metaverse
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Chapter 10
David Tuffley
This chapter introduces a process reference model of leadership for integrated teams operating in virtual environments. Geographically dispersed... Sample PDF
Leadership of Integrated Teams in Virtual Environments
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Chapter 11
Monique Janneck
For a technology use to be successful, the circumstance of its introduction into a use context—or recontextualization— is crucial. The users of a... Sample PDF
Recontextualising Technology in Appropriation Processes
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Chapter 12
Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Jan Heim
The last few years have seen a substantial growth in online communities such as MySpace and Facebook. In order to survive and increase in size... Sample PDF
Explaining Participation in Online Communities
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Chapter 13
Malcolm Shore
This chapter is about the way in which computer hackers invoke social networking paradigms to support and encourage their activities. It reviews the... Sample PDF
Cyber Security and Anti-Social Networking
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Chapter 14
Wilson Huang, Shun-Yung Kevin Wang
This chapter examines the gaps that arise between reactive social control systems and proactive technology systems. The authors further link these... Sample PDF
Emerging Cybercrime Variants in the Socio-Technical Space
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Chapter 15
Elayne W. Coakes, Peter Smith, Dee Alwis
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Developing Innovative Practice in Service Industries
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Mark Aakhus
Prologue: Socio-Technical Analysis
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Chapter 16
Hans Weigand
Often socio-technical systems are designed simply on the basis of what the user asks, and without considering explicitly whether the required... Sample PDF
Using Communication Norms in Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 17
Jonas Sjöström, Göran Goldkuhl
This chapter introduces the theoretical framework of Socio-Instrumental Pragmatism (SIP) and illustrates how it has been used as an analytic... Sample PDF
Socio-Instrumental Pragmatism in Action
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Chapter 18
Paul J. Bracewell
Analytics provides evidence for objective corporate decision-making. Lack of understanding of analytical techniques can create confusion amongst... Sample PDF
A Framework for Using Analytics to Make Decisions
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Chapter 19
Mikael Lind, Peter Rittgen
Setting up co-design processes involving several stakeholders is a complex task. In this chapter the authors have looked upon experiences from... Sample PDF
The Challenges of Co-Design and the Case of e-Me
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Chapter 20
Harry S. Delugach
Automated tools are often used to support software development workflows. Many of these tools are aimed toward a development workflow that relies... Sample PDF
Formal Analysis of Workflows in Software Development
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Chapter 21
Dorit Nevo, Brent Furneaux
This chapter reviews the significance of expectations to information systems development with particular emphasis on the process of requirements... Sample PDF
The Role of Expectations in Information Systems Development
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Chapter 22
Jeff Axup
With mobile technologies increasingly weaving themselves into the fabric of our communities, it would be beneficial to increase our understanding of... Sample PDF
Building a Path for Future Communities
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Thomas Erickson
Prologue: Socio-Technical Design
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Chapter 23
Thomas Herrmann
Socio-technical systems integrate technical and organizational structures and are related to various stakeholders and their perspectives. The design... Sample PDF
Systems Design with the Socio-Technical Walkthrough
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Chapter 24
Anders I. Mørch
This chapter presents a translational approach to socio-technical design, as a new approach to the theorybased design of user interfaces, supported... Sample PDF
Applied Pragmatism and Interaction Design
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Chapter 25
Manuel Kolp, Yves Wautelet
Information systems are deeply linked to human activities. Unfortunately, development methodologies have been traditionally inspired by programming... Sample PDF
A Social Framework for Software Architectural Design
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Chapter 26
Designing for Trust  (pages 388-401)
Piotr Cofta
Designing for trust is a methodology that attempts to design our perception of trust in information systems, in the long-term expectation that such... Sample PDF
Designing for Trust
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Chapter 27
Dan Dixon
Three decades ago the concept of pattern languages were introduced in the field of architecture and they have since become widely used in... Sample PDF
Pattern Languages for CMC Design
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Chapter 28
Anton Nijholt, Dirk Heylen, Rutger Rienks
In this chapter the authors discuss a particular approach to the creation of socio-technical systems for the meeting domain. Besides presenting a... Sample PDF
Creating Social Technologies to Assist and Understand Social Interactions
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Chapter 29
Jos Benders, Ronald Batenburg, Paul Hoeken, Roel Schouteten
This chapter sketches an Organization Design perspective called “Modern Socio-technical Design”, and subsequently discusses the implementation of... Sample PDF
A Modern Socio-Technical View on ERP-Systems
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Chapter 30
Mary Allan, David Thorns
The chapter introduces the Bourdieuean habitus and field theory as a framework for an alternative way of investigating how perceptions of Media Rich... Sample PDF
Being Face to Face: A State of Mind or Technological Design?
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Chapter 31
Rebecca M. Ellis
This chapter introduces the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his concepts of “the field” and “capital” in relation to eBay. In any given... Sample PDF
Applying Bourdieu to eBay's Success and Socio-Technical Design
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Chapter 32
Christopher A. Miller
This chapter focuses not on technology mediation of human relationships, but rather on human-like relationships with technology itself. The author... Sample PDF
Relationships and Etiquette with Technical Systems
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Anton Nijholt
Prologue: Socio-Technical Implementation
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Chapter 33
Laura Anna Ripamonti, Ines Di Loreto, Dario Maggiorini
The necessity of supporting more and more social interaction (and not only mere information sharing) in online environments is the disruptive force... Sample PDF
Augmenting Actual Life Through MUVEs
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Chapter 34
Mohamed Ben Ammar, Mahmoud Neji, Adel M. Alimi
Affective computing is a new artificial intelligence area that deals with the possibility of making computers able to recognize human emotions in... Sample PDF
The Role of Affect in an Agent-Based Collaborative E-Learning System Used for Engineering Education
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Chapter 35
Pernilla Qvarfordt, Shumin Zhai
Eye-gaze plays an important role in face-to-face communication. This chapter presents research on exploiting the rich information contained in human... Sample PDF
Gaze-Aided Human-Computer and Human-Human Dialogue
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Chapter 36
Licia Calvi
The chapter presents and combines the results of two case studies dealing with online communities1 in order to understand under which conditions... Sample PDF
How to Engage Users in Online Sociability
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Chapter 37
Ivan Launders
The UK National Health Service (NHS) provides the opportunity to undertake local socio-technical system design to help staff maximize the... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Systems and Knowledge Representation
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Chapter 38
Claire de la Varre, Julie Keane, Matthew J. Irvin, Wallace Hannum
This chapter describes the design of a sociotechnical system to support rural high school students in an online distance education (ODE) course. The... Sample PDF
Social Support for Online Learning
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Chapter 39
Jeremy Birnholtz, Emilee J. Rader, Daniel B. Horn, Thomas Finholt
This chapter uses the theoretical notion of common ground to explore remote participation in experimental research. On one hand, there is a desire... Sample PDF
Enabling Remote Participation in Research
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Chapter
Starr Roxanne Hiltz
Prologue: Socio-Technical Evaluation
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Chapter 40
John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, Umer Farooq, Jamika D. Burge
Socio-technical systems are social systems that incorporate technological infrastructures. At the group level of analysis, the most important... Sample PDF
Community Collective Efficacy
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Chapter 41
Tanguy Coenen, Wouter Van den Bosch, Veerle Van der Sluys
This chapter views social networking sites as supporting social capital and the advantages which derive from it, namely emotional support... Sample PDF
An Analysis of the Socio-Technical Gap in Social Networking Sites
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Chapter 42
Olga Kulyk, Betsy van Dijk, Paul van der Vet, Anton Nijholt, Gerrit van der Veer
This chapter addresses awareness support to enhance teamwork in co-located collaborative environments. In particular, the authors focus on the... Sample PDF
Situational Awareness In Collaborative Work Environments
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Chapter 43
Janet L. Holland
This chapter deals with research on the development and use of an assessment instrument for measuring affective satisfaction in online learning. The... Sample PDF
A Scale of Affective Satisfaction in Online Learning Communities
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Chapter 44
David Hinds, Ronald M. Lee
In this chapter, the authors suggest how measures of “social network health” can be used to evaluate the status and progress of a virtual community.... Sample PDF
Assessing the Social Network Health of Virtual Communities
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Chapter 45
Bertram C. Bruce, Andee Rubin, Junghyun An
This chapter introduces situated evaluation as an approach for evaluating socio-technical innovation and change. Many current evaluations simply... Sample PDF
Situated Evaluation of Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 46
Heike Winschiers-Theophilus
Communities all over the world have established their own value systems which do not necessarily correlate with the intrinsic values of technology.... Sample PDF
Cultural Appropriation of Software Design and Evaluation
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Chapter
Charles Steinfield
Prologue: The Future of Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 47
Peter J. Denning
Wicked problems (messes) are tangled social situations that are too costly to stay in and too intransigent to get out of. Collaboration is essential... Sample PDF
Resolving Wicked Problems through Collaboration
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Chapter 48
Rachel McLean
As a social activity, the shopping experience can not be recreated or improved through technical design alone. This chapter proposes that there is... Sample PDF
The Myth of the e-Commerce Serf to Sovereign Powershift
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Chapter 49
Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson
This chapter explores the challenges associated with teaching the principles of socio-technical systems in the dynamic climate that characterizes... Sample PDF
Teaching the Socio-Technical Practices of Tomorrow Today
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Chapter 50
Isa Jahnke
The chapter describes an empirical study of a socio-technical community—as an extended part of an institution— with the aim of revealing its... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Communities: From Informal to Formal?
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Chapter 51
Laurence Claeys, Johan Criel
This chapter introduces the concept of critical user participation as a means to see the socio-technical gap in context aware applications as an... Sample PDF
Future Living in a Participatory Way
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Chapter 52
Paul Hodgson
This chapter analyses the formation and generation of social trust through communications technology in postmodern society, and presents some... Sample PDF
The Impact of Communications Technology on Trust
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Chapter 53
Kenneth E. Kendall, Julie E. Kendall
This chapter explores the social, organizational, and individual impacts of emerging information technologies using the advent of recent... Sample PDF
Good and Evil in the Garden of Emerging Information Technologies
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About the Contributors