Engaging Learners in Online Video Lectures with Dynamically Scaffolding Conversational Agents

Rainer Winkler*, Sebastian Hobert, Tizian Fischer, Antti Salovaara, Matthias Söllner, Jan Marco Leimeister

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Online education creates new opportunities for learners, which has led to sharply increasing enrollment in the last few years. Despite these benefits, past research shows that the lack of individual interaction with educators creates low learner engagement that leads to high attrition rates, which remains a major challenge in the field. Dynamically scaffolding conversational agents built into online video lectures promise to address this problem by individually interacting with learners, similar to educators’ scaf-folding behavior. These agents are equipped with recent natural language processing capabilities, cre-ating human-like conversations that help learners to be more engaged in the learning process. To test our hypothesis, we built a dynamically scaffolding conversational agent named Sara and compared it with an often-implemented static conversational agent built into two online video lectures. We deployed a lab experiment with 182 learners. The neurophysiological measurements revealed that Sara signifi-cantly improved learner engagement partly explained by differences in learners’ perceptions in the way they experienced the interaction. This study connects to already existing conversational agent studies in online education and highlights the importance of including dynamically scaffolding conversational agents in online video lectures to address the problem of low learner engagement in online education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2020)
Place of PublicationAtlanta
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
ISBN (Print)978-1-7336325-1-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventEuropean Conference on Information Systems - Virtual, Online, Morocco
Duration: 15 Jun 202017 Jun 2020
Conference number: 28


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Information Systems
Abbreviated titleECIS
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


  • Conversational agent
  • learner engagement
  • dynamic scaffolding
  • neuroIS
  • experiment


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