The Role of Multi-Agent Social Networking Systems in Ubiquitous Education: Enhancing Peer-Supported Reflective Learning

The Role of Multi-Agent Social Networking Systems in Ubiquitous Education: Enhancing Peer-Supported Reflective Learning

Jonathan Bishop (Glamorgan Blended Learning LTD, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-703-4.ch005
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Abstract

Knowledge it could be argued is constructed from the information actors pick up from the environments they are in. Assessing this knowledge can be problematic in ubiquitous e-learning systems, but a method of supporting the critical marking of e-learning exercises is the Circle of Friends social networking technology. Understanding the networks of practice in which these e-learning systems are part of requires a deeper understanding of information science frameworks. The Ecological Cognition Framework (ECF) provides a thorough understanding of how actors respond to and influence their environment. Forerunners to ecological cognition, such as activity theory have suggested that the computer is just a tool that mediates between the actor and the physical environment. Utilising the ECF it can be seen that for an e-learning system to be an effective teacher it needs to be able to create five effects in the actors that use it, with those being the belonging effect, the demonstration effect, the inspiration effect, the mobilisation effect, and the confirmation effect. In designing the system a developer would have to consider who the system is going to teach, what it is going to teach, why it is teaching, which techniques it is going to use to teach and finally whether it has been successful. This chapter proposes a multi-agent e-learning system called the Portable Assistant for Intelligently Guided Education (PAIGE), which is based around a 3D anthropomorphic avatar for educating actors ubiquitously. An investigation into the market for PAIGE was carried out. The data showed that those that thought their peers were the best form of support were less likely to spend more of their free time on homework. The chapter suggests that future research could investigate the usage of systems like PAIGE in educational settings and the effect they have on learning outcomes.
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Background

Understanding networks of practice draws on various aspects of information science, including emerging fields such as post-cognitive psychology. It has been argued that there should be a framework for understanding actors based on ecological perceptual psychology (Kyttä, 2003) . It is quite clear that any model to explain the behaviour of actors that ignores the possibly of direct perception, or one that ignores the role of the environment assuming that actors are wholly self-motivated and independent of their environment cannot fully explain the behaviour of actors in either physical or virtual environments. The Ecological Cognition Framework proposed by (Bishop, 2007b provides a thorough understanding of how actors respond to and influence their environment. According to Rasmussen, Duncan, & Leplat (1987) the classification of human performance in skill, rule and knowledge-based situations behaviour is the role of the information observed from the environment. As can be identified in Figure 1, the ECF suggests that there are three levels that affect an actor’s behaviour, connected through arrows that represent the process from the actor perceiving their environment through to making changes to it.

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