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Virtual teaching grows affective

New Zealand computer scientists announced the development of Easy with Eve,  an online "affective" tutoring system (ATS). 

Eve’s developer, Hossein Sarrafzadeh at the Auckland-based Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences,  notes that

the realisation that software systems would significantly improve performance if they could adapt to the emotions of the user has spawned research and development in the field of affective or intelligent tutoring systems.

In an introductory video, the prototype, a kinda of funky young woman with cool, piecy blond hair, shares that she can respond to learners’ emotional states through keyboard interaction and videocam clues, reading body language and facial expressions. 

I wonder how kids will react. 

We’ve had mixed results with non-affective online tutoring systems.  Kids get easily bored with drill and kill, no matter how interactive, no matter how noisy or "rewarding."

Some of our students have already connected and learned successfully with live teachers across town at the local university, and with real tutors in Asia. 

I plan to follow this one.

This new Eve was designed to help eight-year-olds with math. 

I wonder if a virtual me, might someday be there to guide an utterly frustrated student researcher through her most chaotic moments.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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