Face-to-Face Interaction with Pedagogical Agents, Twenty Years Later

In IJAIED 26 (1)

Publication information


Game-based learning, Pedagogical agents, Robotics, Teachable agent, Virtual coaches, Virtual environment, Virtual tutors


Johnson et al. (International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 11, 47–78, 2000) introduced and surveyed a new paradigm for interactive learning environments: animated pedagogical agents. The article argued for combining animated interface agent technologies with intelligent learning environments, yielding intelligent systems that can interact with learners in natural, human-like ways to achieve better learning outcomes. We outlined a variety of possible uses for pedagogical agents. But we offered only preliminary evidence that they improve learning, leaving that to future research and development. Twenty years have elapsed since work began on animated pedagogical agents. This article re-examines the concepts and predictions in the 2000 article in the context of the current state of the field. Some of the ideas in the paper have become well established and widely adopted, especially in game-based learning environments. Others are only now being realized, thanks to advances in immersive interfaces and robotics that enable rich face-to-face interaction between learners and agents. Research has confirmed that pedagogical agents can be beneficial, but not equally for all learning problems, applications, and learner populations. Although there is a growing body of research findings about pedagogical agents, many questions remain and much work remains to be done.