In this paper we explore a new direction for pedagogical computer characters, which we believe will maximize students- learning gains and enjoyment. To the traditional scenario where students interact primarily with a single coach or tutor character on-screen, we introduce the addition of both a social, animate colearner, and the student-s own avatar character. Variations of the colearner-s attributes, informed by research literature on human partners, are explored through an online testbed application of English language idioms. Results from an experimental study with 76 Japanese college students reveal that cooperative colearners have a positive impact on students- performance and experience, as well as increasing perceptions of the character-s intelligence and credibility. Findings provide grounding for a fruitful new direction for pedagogical characters, where students learn alongside emotional companions. © 2005 International Society of the Learning Sciences.
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