The Virtual Participant: Lessons to be Learned from a Case-Based Tutor's Assistant
We describe a system which uses an agent-based approach to support teaching in the collaborative setting of asynchronous plain-text electronic conferencing. We have identified areas within which tutors who use conferencing need support and developed a system which helps out in an opportunistic manner. The agent we have developed uses a case-based approach to instruction by offering help on common student problems. The cases used are examples of problems experienced by students in previous years and discussions of how they were resolved. These cases are presented by the agent when it identifies an appropriate point in the conference. An experimental version of this agent, which we call the 'Virtual Participant' (VP), has been tested on the Open University MBA course 'Creative Management'. We review the effect of the system and the lessons to be learned from this experiment.
Accepted at CSCL'97