PUPPET, The educational puppet theatre of virtual worlds / Indlæring ved leg med dukketeater i den virtuelle verden



    EU-project (ESPRIT EP-29335) under ESPRIT Long Term Research (now FET), i3/ESE, Experimental School Environments, October1998 to January 2002. CVMT is co-ordinating contractor and the three other partners are early learning psychologists from Sussex University, England, dramaturgs from Århus Universitet, Denmark, and AI-experts from DFKI, Saarbrücken, Germany. The goal of the project was to develop and evaluate new virtual reality (VR) tools to support early learning for children (4-8 years old). Specifically was developed a 3D virtual world as a puppet theatre to facilitate externalisation through play. This should reduce the cognitive load of children and hence allow them to concentrate more on learning new concepts. The consortium has developed gradually improved versions of the virtual environment as a "theatre stage" with autonomous agents performing as virtual actors. A farm scenario with a farmer and farm animals was chosen for empirical investigations, and it has successfully been demonstrated and tested several times with 6-8 years old children. One of the major technological contributions was the use of autonomous agents, which appeared to be harder to develop with real time performance of interesting behaviours than anticipated. The autonomy also contradicted the intentions of supporting free story building and story telling by the children. A dramaturgical framework for improvisational theatre with a constraint and yet flexible space for spontaneous interaction and participation of the children was developed. The final version of the PUPPET theatre was tested by sixteen children playing with the virtual theatre in four different roles: (1) audience, observing the ever changing animated actions of the virtual actors in a designed conflict; (2) participating actor, by choosing and controlling an animal as avatar (representative in the virtual world) to interact and interfere in the ongoing conflict; (3) author, by supplying recordings for all the elements of speech and sound in the communication between the virtual actors; - and eventually (4) editor, by recalling and editing the audio recordings previously supplied. The results supported the project thesis, but indicated also that agent technology and interfaces needed significant improvements in order to show all the potential of the technology. (Erik Granum, Claus B. Madsen, Panteleimon Kampolis)
    Effektiv start/slut dato31/12/200331/12/2003