The development of intelligent tutoring systems has long been the focus of applying artificial intelligence and cognitive science in education. A new breed of intelligent learning environments called learning companion systems was developed over a decade ago. In contrast to an intelligent tutoring system, in which a computer mimics an intelligent tutor, the learning companion system assumes two roles, one as an intelligent tutor and another as a learning companion. Motivated by recent interest in agent research and other technologies, this learning companion field has received increasing attention. This study addresses issues that arise from different perspectives on this research effort. With a view to future networked learning environments, the learning companion is redefined for application to a wide spectrum of educational agent research. Accordingly, several subjects that relate to educational agents, and hence learning companions, are identified. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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