Chatbots, known as pedagogical agents in educational settings, have a long history of use, beginning with Turing’s (1950) work; and since then online chatbots have become embedded into the fabric of technology. Yet understandings of these technologies are inchoate and often untheorised. Integration of chatbots into educational settings over the past 5 years suggests an increase in interest in the ways in which chatbots might be adopted and adapted for teaching and learning. This paper draws on historical literature and theories that to date have largely been ignored in order to (re)contextualise two studies that used responsive evaluation to examine the use of pedagogical agents in education. Findings suggest that emotional interactions with pedagogical agents were intrinsic to a user’s sense of trust, and that truthfulness, personalisation and emotional engagement are vital when using pedagogical agents to enhance online learning. Such findings need to be considered in the light of the ways in which notions of learning are being redefined in the academy, and the extent to which new literacies and new technologies are being pedalled as pedagogies in ways that undermine what higher education is, is for, and what learning means.
- pedagogical agents
- higher education