Computers Can Feel Too: Intelligent Emotional Agents in E-Learning Systems

Computers Can Feel Too: Intelligent Emotional Agents in E-Learning Systems

K. Chatzara (Alexander TEI of Thessaloniki, Greece & Department of Special Education University of Thessaly, Greece), C. Karagiannidis (University of Thessaly, Greece) and D. Stamatis (Alexander TEI of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-080-8.ch010
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Abstract

The introduction of emotional reactions to e-Learning environments might offer a more efficient and effective communication between the user and the machine; a more natural and realistic computer interface. Embodied Intelligent Emotional Agents (IEAs) which are highly expressive and show empathy for the users may help learners overcome academic difficulties and may contribute positively to the pedagogical procedure by making it more efficient and enjoyable. IEAs can be programmed to “show” the correct social behaviour and through them a channel of communication might open to serve for better interaction among learners. This could contribute to increase student’s self esteem, help them recover from negative emotions as well as encourage learners to overcome academic problems. In this chapter the authors review existing systems that use emotional agents and analyze their specific characteristics, their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, based on this analysis they enumerate specific requirements for efficient communication between agents and users and we use them to propose a general architecture model upon which the development of future IEAs could be based.
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Computer Mediated Communication And Emotions

We know, computers can not feel, nevertheless we have to communicate (in a way) with them in order to accomplish certain tasks in different domains. Communication is a dynamic process, based on a set of components that depend on the environment within which they exist. The communication process starts with the communicators who must share common symbols (ontologies) for effective communication to take place. The physical setting, the relationship details, the culture within which an exchange takes place, along with the particular situation, all influence the way messages are interpreted. Communicators both send and receive messages which must be transmitted through a channel. Many factors such as tone of voice, vocabulary, body movement dynamics, all do contribute to the effectiveness of the message. This effectiveness is radically supported by the emotions evolved (Cogan, 1994). We experience an emotion and we communicate it to another person. The other person receives it, this adds to his/her current emotional state, produces another emotional state and communicates the latest to the other person. This is the basis of most communication models, described in 1954 by mathematician Schramm.

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