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Talks & Seminars
Towards a Model of Technology and Literacy Development
Justine Cassell, MIT Media Lab & Director, Gesture and Narrative La
Date & Time: November 22, 2002 16:00
Venue: CSE Department, Seminar Hall, Ground Floor
Abstract:
Research on literacy development suggests that children use particular aspects of oral language to help them acquire particular written language skills. Children's success in using certain syntactic, semantic and pragmatic devices to create and organize events during oral storytelling may be indicative of academic success, conversational dexterity, and ability to acquire later literacy skills. For the most part oral storytelling does not take place by children speaking to themselves and, in fact, peer oral storytelling has been shown to be more successful than adult-child storytelling in scaffolding these important uses of oral language. In this talk I discuss the development of technologies that can scaffold children's written literacy development by playing the role of a storytelling peer. In previous research we have shown that narrative technologies can encourage children to tell linguistically sophisticated and appropriately contextualized stories. In other previous research we have shown that embodied conversational agents that rely on social protocols of conversation can lead users to trust the interface more, believe the system is more knowledgeable, and find the interaction more successful. In this new research we examine the intersection of building peers and building narrative-eliciting artefacts, with the goal of improving children's access to literacy skills.
Speaker Profile:
Justine Cassell is an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab where she directs the Gesture and Narrative Language Research Group. She holds a master's degree in Literature from the UniversitÚ de Besanšon (France), a master's degree in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and a dual Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (U.S.) in Psychology and in Linguistics. Before coming to MIT, she was National Science Foundation Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science, and Fellow of the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. After having spent ten years studying verbal and non-verbal aspects of human communication through microanalysis of videotaped data Cassell began to bring her knowledge of human conversation to the design of computational systems. Currently she and her students are working on the use of embodied conversational agents as interfaces to information, and as representatives of users in 3D graphical online worlds. Cassell also studies how embodied conversational agents and other kinds of virtual listeners can promote and improve literacy for young children. Justine Cassell is co-editor of >From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games (MIT Press,1998), and of Embodied Conversational Agents (MIT Press, 2000), and she has published in journals as diverse as Poetics Today, Pragmatics and Cognition and Computer Graphics.
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