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 Spawn of Microsoft's Clippy Offers help

This story is from the category Education
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Date posted: 17/04/2007

e-Learning is a growth industry. Teaching children via interactive resources rather than teacher based learning. Tutoring adults via the web, online-only courses, or teach-yourself software. All rely on the belief that if you get stuck, you?ll click help, or admit you don?t get it.

Many are too proud to press a "help" button and so they just give up. To keep them going, researchers at Microsoft are developing a "frustration detector" that works out when people are having problems and begins a dialogue with them, offering to go back over important points.

To sense when someone is about to tear their hair out, Ashish Kapoor at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, and Winslow Burleson and Rosalind Picard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology plastered a computer workstation with sensors. They fitted pressure sensors to the back and base of a chair to detect frustrated fidgeting, while a webcam watched the user to spot shaking of the head. The mouse was also fitted with pressure sensors to detect tightening of grip, another sign of frustration.

In tests with 24 schoolchildren carrying out a 3D puzzle, the researchers were able to train software to recognise frustration with 79 per cent accuracy and provide tuition feedback when it was needed. If sensors in the chair, and mouse are required for every workstation, and start to become standardised, this can but be a good thing, for other applications. The boosts to learning alone make such investment worthwhile.

See the full Story via external site: www.newscientisttech.com

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