A facilitator agent is a software agent or "being" that acts on behalf of a facilitator, doing things that can be programmed and don't take discernment or subtlety.
During the CIP, we experimented with four kinds of facilitator agents that were triggered by different events, such as going into a new activity or clicking a particular button. These are:
Each of these can be either firm (the user must do what the agent specifies) or flexible (the user can choose what to do).
- boundary agent
- shepherd agent
- assistant agent
- reminder agent
For Orientation, the boundary agent was firm and required completion of a set of tasks before admitting members into the rest of the Community activities.
In contrast, in the Cafe the boundary agent was flexible, offering members the Cafe Guidelines to read but not requiring that they do so.
After the first two weeks of the Opening Ceremony, a firm shepherd agent greeted those who had not yet participated when they came into the CIP and took them directly to the Opening Ceremony, but it didn't require that they do anything there.
Later, during the mid-course Learning Inquiry, a shepherd agent greeted those who hadn't responded to at least two of the six questions and asked if they wanted to participate in that activity now.
Assistant agents helped members with routine tasks. For example, when someone was checked out as away on the Who's Here roster, an assistant agent greeted him when coming back into the CIP and asked if he wanted to be marked "here." Assistants also helped members link their comments in the right places in the dialogues.
Reminder agents helped reinforce the conversational practices. For example, in the Council Circles, each member could respond only once to each round. If he tried to respond a second time, the firm reminder agent would remind him that he had already responded and not allow a second entry.
In the Dialogue group, if someone hadn't read all new items before responding, the flexible reminder agent brought that to his attention and suggested that he might be more aware of what was emerging in the group if he did so. But it gave him the option to read those or not.
In addition, each member had a guide for each activity. These were specialized boundary agents that kept track of the state of the activity and where the member was in it. Usually the guide showed information like the number of new items the member hadn't yet read, the group s/he was in if it was a multi-group activity, and any response deadlines.
Here is an example of a Council Circle Guide (screen image).
From the 1996 Awakening Technology Community of Inquiry and Practice (CIP)
Content and Groupware Design © 1996 Awakening Technology.
Awakening Technology...*...333 S. State Street V-233...*...Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034
(503) 635-2615 voice...*...firstname.lastname@example.org
From www.awakentech.com on 10/20/2020 ---- item last modified on 05/31/1997.