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Affective Communication between ECAs and Users in Collaborative Virtual Environments: The REVERIE European Parliament Use Case

1
School of Physical Sciences and Computing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
2
School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Westminster, London W1B 2HW, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2019, 3(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti3010007
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 28 January 2019 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 10 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality in Improving Education)
This paper discusses the enactment and evaluation of Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA) capable of affective communication in Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVE) for learning. The CVE discussed is a reconstruction of the European Parliament in Brussels developed using the REVERIE (Real and Virtual Engagement In Realistic Immersive Environment) framework. REVERIE is a framework designed to support the creation of CVEs populated by ECAs capable of natural human-like behaviour, physical interaction and engagement. The ECA provides a tour of the virtual parliament and participates in the learning activity as an intervention mechanism to engage students. The ECA is capable of immediacy behaviour (verbal and non-verbal) and interactions to support a dialogic learning scenario. The design of the ECA is grounded on a theoretical framework that addresses the required characteristics of the ECA to successfully support collaborative learning. In this paper, we discuss the Heuristic Evaluation of the REVERIE ECA which revealed a wealth of usability problems that led to the development of a list of design recommendations to improve their usability, including its immediacy behaviours and interactions. An ECA capable of effectively creating rapport should result in more positive experiences for participants and better learning results for students in dialogic learning scenarios. Future work aims to evaluate this hypothesis in real-world scenarios with teachers and students participating in a shared virtual educational experience. View Full-Text
Keywords: Collaborative Virtual Environments; dialogic learning; Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs); affective communication; REVERIE; rapport; immediacy behaviours Collaborative Virtual Environments; dialogic learning; Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs); affective communication; REVERIE; rapport; immediacy behaviours
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Doumanis, I.; Economou, D. Affective Communication between ECAs and Users in Collaborative Virtual Environments: The REVERIE European Parliament Use Case. Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2019, 3, 7.

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