Universität Duisburg-Essen
Forschung/Rechnergestützte Gruppenarbeit im Internet/Moderationsunterstützung ins synchronen Arbeitssitzungen durch Software-Agenten

Moderationsunterstützung in synchronen Arbeitssitzungen durch Software-Agenten

The synchronous groupware PASSENGER was originally designed to support teams consisting of three students during a software engineering lab at University Duisburg-Essen. One of the major goals was to conduct the lab in a distributed manner, so that the students are located in different rooms in order to get them familiar with the up-to-date development practice in global acting software engineering companies. But this form of lab conduction is very resource consuming, as every group requires not only three separated offices but also its own tutor.
Therefore, the use of intelligent agents applied to collaborative online learning environments has been introduced to enable the design of “enhanced-learning environments” which supports the development and the assessment of social competences as well as the common professional competences. Examples of social competences include presenting ideas in a workgroup, providing and receiving criticism, cooperating with others, and behaving ethically in one’s working life.

Agents can be perceived as computing services that humans, or even other agents, can request in order to accomplish their tasks. Some services may be simple and others rather complex. A way to determine the best agents (services) to be implemented is to identify who the actors in the object of study are, which roles they play, and (if possible) what kind of knowledge they use.


To exemplify the concept usage of intelligent agents in collaborative environments, animated agents have been integrated in the synchronous groupware PASSENGER in order to overcome the lack of tutor when the students meet outside tutor working’s hours. Several tutoring functions of this prototype are:

  • to present a topic
  • to explain the topic
  • to give an example
  • to answer a student's question
  • to ask a student a question and evaluate the student's answer
  • to examine and diagnose a student's behaviour during the learning process

This means that the implemented prototype of an agent also has the roles of a human tutor within a group of students, which are:

  • Interrogator: Poses questions and the students of a collaborative group then provide answers. The questions should provide help for the students to reach a common learning goal.
  • Reviewer: Analyzes the students' answers, including whether it is correct or not.
  • Monitor: Records the answers from all students and the communications among students during the collaborative learning process.
  • Instructor: Gives individualized instructions and helps those students who cannot keep up with the progress of their group-mates.

Also the tutor-agent provide some functions. He

  • provides various forms of help-assistance to group-members,
  • provides adequate management for the collaborative activities and
  • is able to solve any problem that may occur during these activities.

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Kontakt (Dr.-Ing. Stefan Werner)

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