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On-line study guides for distance education students: can 'advisor' agents help?

This project focussed on the construction of a prototype on-line study guide for the 'M206 Computing: An Object-oriented Approach' distance education course provided by the Open University (UK). The specific problems students encounter while studying a course with a complex media mix such as this course have been looked at, as well as the wider issues concerning the problems distance education students encounter whilst studying. A comparison between the difficulties distance education and traditional students have when studying has also been made and a number of interesting similarities and differences observed. A prototype on-line study guide has been constructed using an 'advisor' agent, the Progress Advisor. The Progress Advisor has been evaluated by distance education students who were very positive about it. From this evidence the idea of 'advisor' agents is one worth developing further. While this was a small project, a number of important and interesting issues have emerged from the research warranting further investigation and the importance of further research in this area has been highlighted.

This work was carried out in the Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, under the supervision of Dr. Tamara Sumner.


Dissertation for MSc in Human-Centred Computer Systems, School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex.

ID: kmi-97-18

Date: 1997

Author(s): Chris McKillop

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