Learning to Overcome Cultural Conflict through Engaging with Intelligent Agents in Synthetic Cultures

In IJAIED 25 (2)

Publication information

291-317

Intelligent agents, Interactive learning, Intercultural conflict, Synthetic cultures

Abstract

Providing opportunities for children to engage with intercultural learning has frequently focused on exposure to the ritual, celebrations and festivals of cultures, with the view that such experiences will result in greater acceptance of cultural differences. Intercultural conflict is often avoided, bringing as it does particular pedagogical, ethical and political dilemmas of which cultures we place in conflict in the multicultural classroom. In this paper we discuss an alternative approach, providing children with an interactive learning experience with synthetic cultures and characters. The agent architecture developed to enable intelligent agents to exhibit culturally appropriate affect and behaviours is outlined. MIXER, an experiential learning application developed for 9–11 year old children on intercultural conflict is described, highlighting the learning goals and approaches. A school-based evaluation of MIXER with 144 UK children is presented. Children demonstrated high levels of comprehension, engagement and enjoyment of MIXER, with MIXER contributing to near and far transfer, supporting children’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural learning and stimulating discussion and debate about how to resolve conflict.