Benefits of Digital Pedagogical Characters - A Learning Style Perspective

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The article explores the relation between i) the attitudes of students towards digital pedagogical characters and ii) their learning style as separate versus connected thinkers, a learning style dimension which regards individual's approach towards the social dimensions of knowledge. Ninety 12-15 year old students participated in the study in which they were presented with a scenario-based multimedia program. In this program the student is to take the role of a journalist at a magazine that is sent on various missions to European countries in order to conduct article research. The journalist is accompanied by a digital pedagogical character in the form of a virtual instructor or a virtual learning companion.

After having progressed through the introductory parts of the program, including a module for choosing a visual character to represent their virtual instructor or learning companion, the students were (among other things) asked about their views on the idea of using virtual pedagogical characters as an enhancement of learning environment. Furthermore, they were presented with an option between two digital characters with different communicative styles - one strictly task oriented and one task and relation oriented and were asked to give motives for their choice. The students were also asked to fill out a learning style inventory addressing separate versus connected thinking.

The results of the study confirm what has been shown in some other studies, namely that there are considerable individual differences both in attitudes towards digital characters in digital learning environments and in attitudes towards the social orientation of such characters, and that these differences in attitudes may be related to various user characteristics. More specifically, the results of the current study indicate that differences in learning style of the kind assessed in the study belong among those user characteristics. The results are finally discussed in terms of practical implications for the use and design of digital learning environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
JournalThe Open Education Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Learning


  • separate versus connected thinker
  • social dimension of knowledge
  • Learning style
  • digital character
  • SoTL


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