Persuasive Design in Teaching and Learning

Persuasive Design in Teaching and Learning

Reinhold Behringer (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK) and Peter Øhrstrøm (Institut for Kommunikation, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcssa.2013070101
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The EuroPLOT project (2010-2013) has developed Persuasive Learning and Technologies (PLOTs) and has evaluated them in four real-world case studies, which cover the widely different teaching scenarios of university education, adult learning in industry, informal learning at a museum, literature studies, and language learning. At the International Workshop of EuroPLOT Persuasive Technology for Learning, Education and Teaching (IWEPLET 2013), the results of the project were presented, and an overview of related research was given. One of the main conclusions of EuroPLOT has been that the specific learning context has to be considered when applying persuasive designs. At IWEPLET 2013, both the theoretical background as well as evaluations of persuasive technology demonstrations were presented. This paper provides an overview of these presentations.
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The concept of Persuasive Technology (PT) is based on the idea that through technology, the behaviour and attitudes of people can be influenced resp. changed through conscious implementation of Persuasive Design concepts. This has been introduced by BJ Fogg (1998) and has been further expanded in his seminal work (Fogg, 2003), in which he identifies three roles which a computer can play in Persuasive Design: Tools, Media, and Social Actors (ibid., pp. 23 and following). The following core types of Persuasive Tools are identified (Chapter 3):

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These types of persuasive tools may be said to represent important principles in persuasive theory for influencing a person’s behaviour or attitude. This holds in general, and particularly in learning contexts. Already early on, the ethical concerns regarding this approach have been voiced (e.g. Berdichevsky, 1999), and further use of these persuasive principles did proceed under considerations of these concerns (Verbeck, 2006).

In the domain of learning, persuasion in general has been applied by “good” and effective teachers throughout history. The advent of technology-enhanced learning has then prompted research into how the persuasive design principles could be harnessed for making machine-guided learning more effective and persuasive. In 2010, the EuroPLOT consortium was formed to investigate how persuasive technology could be used in learning and teaching by developing and evaluating Persuasive Learning Objects and Technologies (PLOTs) in four different real-world case studies. These included a wide variety of learning contexts, scenarios, and styles, which demonstrated in an exemplary manner the possible application of these technologies in learning and teaching. The concluding event for this project was the International Workshop on EuroPLOT Persuasive Technologies for Learning, Education, and Teaching (IWEPLET) and it took place in Paphos (Cyprus), co-hosted with the EC-TEL 2013 conference. At this event, the results from the EuroPLOT project were presented, as well as research that goes beyond its original scope (Behringer and Sinclair, 2013). The following sections provide an overview of the papers presented at IWEPLET 2013. A few of these authors have contributed here in this Special Issue with extended papers about related research, showing novel aspects that go beyond their IWEPLET publications.

Theroretical Considerations

The challenge to define a fundamental framework of Persuasive Technology has been taken up by Wiafe (2013) in his concept of a Unified Framework for Analysis, Design and Evaluation, based on relationships between attitude and behavior models. Tørning (2013) did provide a literature survey and review of several persuasive design models specifically for technology-enhanced learning. One of the main conclusions of the EuroPLOT project was that one cannot simply add persuasive design elements in the design of learning objects and expect that these would then be “persuasive” (Gram-Hansen, 2012). Instead, one needs to consider the specific context of the learning situation and then exercise judicious care in applying the persuasive design that is appropriate for this context (Gram-Hansen, 2013). This has been applied in the concept of immersive layers design with geographical, temporal, and conceptual layers (Grund-Sørensen, 2013a), primarily in an application for literature studies, and secondarily in an application for informal learning in a museum context.

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