Ghostwriter: Educational Drama and Presence in a Virtual Environment

November 7, 2002


Improvisational dramatic role-play activities are used in classrooms to encourage children to explore the feelings of the characters in a story. Role-play exercises can give a story personal significance to each child, and an insight and understanding of the characters and the relationships between them. It can also help the development of moral reasoning by presenting moral dilemmas in concrete situations. This paper presents a desktop virtual environment, Ghostwriter, designed for similar dramatic role-play exercises. We describe the virtual environment and the characters within it and outline relevant previous work in this area. An important concept in the evaluation of the system is presence: the extent to which the role-player experiences social presence in the environment will influence the success of the drama. We present results of an empirical evaluation of the virtual role-play activity with eleven year old school pupils which demonstrate that the pupils experienced social presence during their interactions with the Ghostwriter characters. These results, transcript analysis and interviews, indicate the Ghostwriter is a useful tool for educational drama.

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