8 Ways To Render Your Virtual Teacher's Personality
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Rendering Your Virtual Teacher's Personality

With Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and conversational interfaces on the rise, the idea of virtual teachers for online courses, learning platforms, and corporate education becomes more and more appealing. Who wouldn't want a teacher with unlimited patience, who is available 24 hours a day, doesn't ever call in sick and works for free?

Virtual teachers have great potential which is going to grow as technology develops. But in order to provide a truly satisfying learning experience, there is a series of considerations designers of virtual teachers need to take into account. Besides a large number of technical issues that need to be resolved, rendering a virtual teacher's personality demands special attention.

A lot has been written about the personality of the ideal human teacher's personality. Key factors that influence a human person's ability to teach others include cognitive ability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, self-regulation, resilience, extroversion, clarity, self-reflection, and humor.

A surprisingly large number of those factors can be emulated by conversational agents with some minor or major adaptations. Other factors need to be replaced or compensated due to the current limitations of Artificial Intelligence.

These are some suggestions for rendering a virtual teacher's personality:

1. Strive For Verbal Clarity

A teacher is a role model when it comes to using language properly. Apply the highest standards of grammar and spelling and have your dialogs double-checked by others to make sure they are correct.

2. Make Sure That Learners Know What They Are Supposed To Do At Any Time

In comparison to humans, virtual teachers have fewer possibilities to make sure that the learners understand what they are supposed to do. Additionally, they most probably have to share the learners' attention with other platforms frequently. So be sure to give clear instructions and feedback. Visual clues such as stickers, images, and emojis can help learners to orient themselves quickly.

3. Choose A Neutral Emotional Tone

It would be logical to think that a virtual teacher can attract the attention of the learners and build empathy by putting a lot of emotion in their patterns of speech. But have in mind that in order to build empathy, human teachers have far more communication channels at their disposal than virtual teachers do, e.g. facial expression, gesture, intonation. In addition, emulating empathy poses a challenge that Artificial Intelligence has yet to overcome. Studies show that messages in a neutral tone proved to be more effective than ones that had been emotionally adjusted to their content.

4. Use Humor Sparsely

The same thing goes for humor. Even if all of us enjoy a fun and entertaining class and a teacher who can keep up the good mood in the classroom, that is not something that translates easily into the realm of virtual teachers. Once again, humor depends on a large number of factors and the danger exists that repetitive catchphrases rather annoy than motivate learners. As long as you keep humor to a well-timed minimum, you are on the safe side.

5. Avoid Rigid Sequences

Remember your school days: You surely had at least one teacher whose classes you could predict with disturbing certainty. Why? Because they always followed the same patterns. Don't let your virtual teacher make the same mistake and kill your learners' motivation by repeating the same sequences again and again. Rather than that, try to vary the order in which you present learning content, ask for learner interaction or provide feedback.

6. Observe, Evaluate, And Improve

In teacher training, observing classes, giving feedback and having teachers reflect on filmed micro-sequences of their classes helps to ensure teaching quality. If you have a virtual teacher included in your learning environment, you have plenty of possibilities to observe teacher-learner interactions, get direct feedback from learners or analyze conversations that didn't go as expected. Take advantage of this amount of information to continuously improve your virtual teacher's performance.

7. Strive For Consistency

As mentioned above, the amount of communication channels your virtual teacher can use is rather limited. If it runs on a website, you have control over several aspects of its appearance, but if your virtual teacher resides within a messenger platform, such as Facebook Messenger or Telegram, your options are limited. You can set a profile picture and use stickers, images, and other media. With these limitations, having a consistent appearance is even more important. Make sure your media match your brand's color palette and that the language you use is consistent with your company's corporate identity.

8. Reroute To The Human If Needed

Finally, make sure your virtual teacher's Artificial Intelligence registers when it cannot answer a learner's request in a satisfying way. There are few things more annoying than getting stuck in a loop of useless answers. It's great if you can provide real-time human support for difficult requests. Alternatively, you can always forward the request for human processing and get back to the learner later. Just tell them that you will need a little while to get a satisfying answer for them. This is again a great opportunity to improve your virtual teacher.

What are your thoughts on future virtual teachers? What other important aspects of their personality can you think of? Let me know what you think and leave a comment.

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