University of Toronto
Department of Computer Science

A Distinguished Lecture on Computer Science

James Lester

Intelligent Multimedia Systems for Knowledge-Based Learning Environments


Rapid advances in media technologies have created unprecedented opportunities for a new generation of knowledge-based learning environments. By providing users with interactive lifelike pedagogical agents and rich, self-explaining 3D worlds, learning environments of the future hold much promise for bringing about profound changes in the way that we educate students. For the past six years, we have been engaged in a broad-based effort to develop the foundational technologies that exploit AI to support these next-generation learning environments.

In this talk we describe the core technologies addressed so far and illustrate their behavior in four systems developed in our laboratory: DESIGN-A-PLANT, a design-centered learning environment inhabited by a lifelike pedagogical agent; COSMO, a second lifelike pedagogical agent that coordinates deictic speech, gesture, and locomotion; CPU CITY, a 3D learning environment testbed with a learner-centered virtual cinematography system; and PHYSVIZ, a 3D explanation system that generates coordinated 3D animations and natural language from a functional unification grammar. We conclude with a discussion of future directions.


James Lester is the co-directory of the IntelliMedia Initiative. The primary objective of our research is to design, construct, and empirically evaluate computational mechanisms to support intelligent human-computer interaction in educational software. Our focus in particular is on developing advanced animated and natural language explanation systems that facilitate learning. We pursue this work in three areas: animated pedagogical agents, 3D learning environments and virtual cinematography, and natural language generation.

Host: contact Prof. Hirst for information on the speaker's schedule.

Time and Location: return to the 2000 Colloquia Series main page.

R. J. Miller
Last modified: Mon Aug 14 22:19:19 EDT 2000