CAN AVATARS REPLACE THE TRAINER? - A case study evaluation

Ahmad Kamil Mahmood, Elaine Ferneley


E-learning implementations have become an important agenda item for academic and business institutions as an enabler to complement their education and training needs. However, many of the existing e-learning systems, present several limitations such as them being static, passive and consisting of a time-consuming set of services. This has highlighted the need for functionality, which allows more creativity, autonomy, and flexibility on behalf of the learner. The inclusion of avatar technology in e-learning environments has been of growing interest, aiming to encourage the learner to become more engaged and motivated whilst augmenting the use of human trainers. However, the empirical investigations on the effect of animated agents in teaching and learning has revealed diverse results in a continuum from avatars being helpful to them being distracting. This research has evaluated the utility of avatars. Unusually, the research has chosen a qualitative, interpretive approach with supporting case study data as the chosen research methodology. The justification for this research approach will be made and the initial findings will be presented together with a proposed conceptual framework.


  1. Ayre, M. and A. Nafalski (2000). Recognising Diverse Learning Styles in Teaching and Assessment of Elec. Engineering. 30th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Kansas City, MO.
  2. Baylor, A. and J. Ryu (2003). "Does the presence of image and animation enhance pedagogical agent persona?" Journal of Edu. Computing Research 28(4): 373-395.
  3. Bouras, C. and A. Philopoulos (2001). "e-Learning through distributed virtual environments." Journal of Network and Computer Applications. 24
  4. Dehn, D. M. (2000). "The Impact of Animated Interface Agents: A Review of Empirical Research." Int. Journal Human-Computer Studies 52: 1-22.
  5. Fabri, M. and D. J. Moore (2002). Face Value: Towards Emotionally Expressive Avatars. HCI 2002.
  6. Fallon, C. and S. Brown (2003). e-Learning Standards: A guide to purchasing, developing and deploying standards - conformant e-learning. Lon, St Lucie Press.
  7. Holstein, J. A. and J. F. Gubrium (1995). The Active Interview. Qualitative Research Methods SERIES 37. London, Sage Publication.
  8. Honey, P. (2001). Learning styles - the key to personalised e-learning, Peter Honey Learning. Retrieved Dec 7 2002 from
  9. Jafari, A. (2002). "Conceptualising Intelligent Agents For Teaching and Learning." Educause Quarterly 3.
  10. Kaplan, B. and J. A. Maxwell (1994). Qualitative Research Methods for Evaluating Computer Information Systems. Evaluating Health Care Information Systems: Methods and Applications. S. J. Jay. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage: 45-68.
  11. Klein, H. K. and M. D. Myers (1999). "A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies In Information Systems." MISQ 23(1): 67-94.
  12. Miles, M. and A. Huberman (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.
  13. Moundridou, M. (2002). "Evaluating the Persona Effect of an Interface Agent in an Intelligent Tutoring System." Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18(2).
  14. Murch, R. and T. Johnson (1999). Intelligent Software Agents. New Jersey, Prentice Hall PTR.
  15. Picciano, A. G. (2002). "Beyond Students Perceptions: Issues of Interactions, Presence, and Performance in an Online Course." Journal of ALN 6(1).
  16. Piccoli, G., R. Ahmad, et al. (2001). "Web-Based Virtual Learning Environments: A Research Framework and a Preliminary Assessment of Effectiveness in Basic IT Skills Training." MIS Quarterly 25(4).
  17. Rosenberg, M. J. (2001). E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age. NY, McGraw Hill.
  18. Somekh, B. (2000). "New Technology and Learning: Policy and Practice in the UK, 1980 - 2010." Education & Information Technology 5(1): 19-37.
  19. Sun, L., S. Williams, et al. (2003). Knowledge Construction in E-Learning: Designing an E-Learning Environment. Fifth Int. Conference Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2003), Angers, FRANCE.
  20. Tversky, B., J. B. Morrison, et al. (2002). "Animation: can it facilitate?" International Journal of HumanComputer Studies 57(4): 247-262.
  21. Vidgen, R., T. Wood-Harper, et al. (1993). "A Soft Systems Approach to Information Systems Quality." Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems 5.
  22. Walsham, G. (1995). "Interpretive case studies in IS research: nature and method." European Journal of Information System 4(2): 74-81.

Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Kamil Mahmood A. and Ferneley E. (2004). CAN AVATARS REPLACE THE TRAINER? - A case study evaluation . In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - Volume 4: ICEIS, ISBN 972-8865-00-7, pages 208-213. DOI: 10.5220/0002639102080213

in Bibtex Style

author={Ahmad Kamil Mahmood and Elaine Ferneley},
title={CAN AVATARS REPLACE THE TRAINER? - A case study evaluation},
booktitle={Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - Volume 4: ICEIS,},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - Volume 4: ICEIS,
TI - CAN AVATARS REPLACE THE TRAINER? - A case study evaluation
SN - 972-8865-00-7
AU - Kamil Mahmood A.
AU - Ferneley E.
PY - 2004
SP - 208
EP - 213
DO - 10.5220/0002639102080213