C. Chou, T. Chan, and C. Lin. Redefining the learning companion: the past, the present and the future of educational agents. Computers & Education, (40):255–269, 2003. [url]
This paper contains a literature review of the current trends in terms of building “learning companions”, which oppose to the approach of building Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS). The learning companion is defined as: a computer-simulated character, which has human-like characteristics and plays a nonauthoritative role in a social learning environment. Moreover, the learning companion can be inscribed in the bigger group of educational agents: an educational agent is a kind of computational support, which enriches the social context in a social learning environment either by providing virtual participants to enhance the member multiplicity of communities or by supporting facilities to foster communication among real participants.
Interesting approaches in the development of such companions are represented by the social distributed cognition (Dillenbourg and Self, 1992), and embedding machine-learning and knowledge acquisition to the system (Tecuci & Keeling, 1999).