There is increasing interest in the use of animated agents in e‐learning environments. However, empirical investigations of their use in online education are limited. Our aim is to provide an empirically based framework for the development and evaluation of animated agents in e‐learning environments. Findings suggest a number of challenges, including the multiple dialogue models that animated agents will need to accommodate, the diverse range of roles that pedagogical animated agents can usefully support, the dichotomous relationship that emerges between these roles and that of the lecturer, and student perception of the degree of autonomy that can be afforded to animated agents
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