"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who Needs Human Capital When You Have the Virtual Eve?

When the ed industry really gets ramped up, it won't take them long to find many economic advantages of virtual teachers, compared to the old fashioned off-shoring of jobs to countries that pay in pennies. Virtual tutors work for free, and they never depart from the script like some of those sentimental and strong-willed fleshy types. Sounds like, hey, the Garden of Eden?

A virtual teacher who is able to respond to children's moods is being hailed as a critical tool in the expanding long-distance learning market.

Massey researchers have developed the near-human animated teacher, called Eve, and say the development has drawn the attention of scientists across the computing world.

An attractive blonde, the 3D image is designed to teach maths one-on-one to 8-year-olds.

Eve is what is known in the information sciences as an intelligent or affective tutoring system, that can adapt its response to the emotional state of people by interaction through a computer system.

Linked to a child via computer, the animated character or virtual tutor can tell if the child is frustrated, angry or confused by the on-screen teaching session and can adapt the tutoring session appropriately.

Eve can ask questions, give feedback, discuss questions and solutions and show emotion.

To develop the software, the Massey team observed children and their interactions with teachers and captured them on thousands of images. . . .

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