Supporting and challenging learners through pedagogical agents

addressing ethical issues through designing for values

Deborah Richards*, Virginia Dignum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Pedagogical Agents (PAs) that would guide interactions in intelligent learning environments were envisioned two decades ago. These early animated characters had been shown to deliver learning benefits. However, little was understood regarding what aspects were beneficial for learning and what sort of learning PAs were suitable for. This article considers the current and future use of PAs to support and challenge learners from three perspectives. Firstly, we look at PAs from a practical perspective to consider what Intelligent Virtual Agents are, the roles they play in education and beyond and the underlying technologies and theories driving them. Next we take a pedagogical perspective to consider the vision, pedagogical approaches supported and new possible uses of PAs. This leads us to the political perspective to consider the values, ethics and societal impacts of PAs. Drawing all three perspectives together we present a design for values approach to designing ethical and socially responsible PAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2885-2901
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number6
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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