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Journal Article

e — Motional Learning in Primary Schools: FearNot! An Anti‑bullying Intervention Based on Virtual Role‑play with Intelligent Synthetic Characters  pp131-138

Sibylle Enz, Carsten Zoll, Natalie Vannini, Wolfgang Schneider, Lynne Hall, Ana Paiva

© Apr 2008 Volume 6 Issue 2, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp99 - 182

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Addressing the problems of bullying in schools, this paper presents a novel and highly innovative pedagogical approach, building on the immersive power of virtual role‑play. Educational role‑play is widely accepted as a powerful instrument to change attitudes and behaviour, but faces some difficulties and disadvantages when applied to sensitive social issues in the classroom. This paper shows how the FearNot! software application, developed within the scope of the EU‑funded projects VICTEC (Virtual ICT with Empathic Characters) and eCIRCUS (Education through Characters with emotional‑Intelligence and Role‑playing Capabilities that Understand Social interaction) uses virtual role‑play and autonomous agents to provide children aged eight to eleven years of age with the opportunity to visit a virtual school environment populated by 3D animated synthetic characters that engage in bullying episodes. The characters' actions and the storyline are created as improvised dramas by use of emergent narrative, resulting in unscripted and highly believable interaction experiences for the learner. While the students are spectators to the bullying episodes that unfold among the FearNot! characters, the victimised character starts a conversation with the student in between the episodes, describing their experiences with bullying and how they feel as a result