With the advance of interface technology, animated on-screen characters have been increasingly used both in commercial and educational applications. The characters are used to simulate natural human social affordance and are called by different names, including interface agents, animated agents, embodied agents, virtual tutors, and pedagogical agents. Researchers from various disciplines have investigated the efficacy of character use in applications from the unique perspective of their disciplines, such as artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, educational technology, and social psychology.

In educational technology, the animated characters that are often called pedagogical agents play a range of instructional roles to effect motivation and learning in computer-based tutoring systems. Some acknowledge that pedagogical agents could overcome some constraints and expand functionalities of conventional computer-based learning. This entry first discusses how ...

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