Learning agents present training materials to the learners, present scenarios, ask questions, and much more. A learning agent might be a character in eLearning, much like a teacher guiding you through a lesson. There are also downfalls to using learning agents such as, you cannot ask an open ended question and receive a response.
You will often see static learning agents within eLearning courses. Static agents are images of the agent, sometimes accompanied with audio.
Examples of software with animated agents includes: CodeBaby, NOAH animated character technology and AlterEgos; just to name a few. Animated agents can be placed within eLearning software such as Articulate, Captivate or Lectora.
CodeBaby is a software in which you can select from 30 characters to add engagement to your training. The character will lip sync with your voice and gestures can be added. There are even different camera settings for your CodeBaby; you can have the camera zoomed in on the face of the CodeBaby or even zoomed to see the CodeBaby’s entire figure. The developer has the option to place an .jpg image behind the CodeBaby as a setting. Below is a video example of what a CodeBaby looks like.
NOAH – animated character technology
NOAH animated character’s can also be placed within eLearning software. NOAH characters are Flash based and can be customized by the company. The characters can highlight parts of eLearning and they can bring up movies. The NOAH characters have more of a .gif animated look rather than 3d avatar characteristic. NOAHx is only available as part of the custom design services offered by the parent company TelSim Software. NOAH’s avatars can also be used on web-pages. Check out a NOAH presentation at: http://www.noahx.com/NOAH/
Like CodeBaby AlterEgos also uses lip syncing. The avatar used is a head-shot showing head, neck and shoulders of the avatar. The avatar can be saved as a .swf, .avi, or .flv file format to be placed within training or standalone. There is also an option for your AlterEgos avatar to be published to YouTube. Below is a 5 minute demo of AlterEgos found on YouTube:
In the past, I have enjoyed taking eLearning courses with an animated agent, especially if the agent interacts with the eLearning’s content. Do you think that animated agents aid in training, create confusion, or make no significant impact?