AAPAL FAQ 1. What is the nature of the "transformation" you are expecting in the user? What will the user be able to "do" after AAPAL that she can't do before AAPAL? The transformation we seek is for Advanced College Rhetoric students who are Stage One arguers before being introduced to AAPAL and the course of study to be transformed into Stage Five arguers upon completion of the course of study. According to Ramage and Bean (1999, p. 153), Stage One arguers only know how to express strong personal opinions without justification, while Stage Five arguers are able to adapt the structure and tone of their arguments to the resistance level of the audience. A transformation depends on the transformation elicitor or educator guiding aspirants or students through a series of staged memorable experiences leading to a lasting consequence that is sustained through time (Pine and Gilmore, 1999). With AAPAL, an educator can create an experience or set of experiences for each of the five stages of development of an arguer, each experience building upon the previous experience. AAPAL will also help the student sustain the transformation through time because if it is not sustained it may not be more than a memorable experience, something that fades over time. 2. What exactly "makes" the user a different person? What is the specific influence (technique, device, action) that transforms the user? The AAPAL Scenario Environment provides a formal location for staging specific interactive multimedia experiences for students. Each scenario presents a situation in which the student is placed and must become actively involved in continuing the scenario toward some goal. Piaget recognizes that living systems “assimilate and accommodate” in an attempt to maintain balance within their environment (Ginsburg and Opper, 1969). It is an environment that supports students taking control of their own learning or intellectual development per Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978) because AAPAL acts as mediator, and per Piaget’s stage of Formal Thought, because information about information relates to analysis of possibilities (Papert, 1980, p. 158). Students can be expected to respond to the AAPAL avatar as it guides them through each experience because Reeves and Nass (1998) found that “media experiences equal human experiences” (p. 251) and that people respond to words and pictures directly, without considering questions regarding who sent them, why they sent them, or what conclusions should be drawn about who sent them or why (p. 254). 3. What makes AAPAL experiences more transformatory than going through a bunch of drill and practice scenarios? There are three phases involved in the process of guiding an aspirant through the series of experiences designed to bring about a transformation. They are: diagnosing and agreeing with the students on their aspirations or goals, staging a series of transforming experiences designed to have specific effects leading to the desired transformation, and Ortiz / AAPAL FAQ 2 following through or guiding students through the process of applying knowledge gained (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p. 176). Drill and practice exercises seek only to perpetuate a fixed mechanical way of accumulating a fixed set of knowledge. Transformations require self-conscious “intelligent carrying forward of purposeful activities” (Dewey, 1966, p. 137). AAPAL is transformative because it employs a series of staged multimedia experiences via scenarios that immerse students in participatory activities leading one step at a time toward a specific transformative goal. For this discussion, those staged experiences correspond with each of the five stages in the development of an arguer. To provide sustainable knowledge, AAPAL includes a wizard in the form of an interactive questionnaire that works with a word processor to remind the writer of the principles of stage five argumentation. 4. Define "experience" in as professional a terminology as you can (quoted material, etc.) Experiences unfold and are revealed over some duration of time. This unfolding process allows the student time to experience uniquely personal sensations which linger within her or him long after the event and the work of the stager or educator is over (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p. 11). The richest experiences include elements from the four realms of experience: esthetic or passive-immersive (creating a desirable “atmosphere” or “ambience”); escapist or active- immersive (designing specific participatory student activity); educational or active- absorptive (defining what students are going to “learn” from their activities); and entertaining or passive-absorptive (holding student attention, making them want to “stay” for more even if they have to leave) (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p. 38). The value of staging experiences over delivering lessons or static knowledge is that staged offerings are memorable and personal. Experiences are internal; they exist uniquely within each student because they are a combination of what he or she brings to the staging area as well as what the stager or educator reveals(Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p. 11). 5. Outline (number individually) all the projected elements of AAPAL in terms we already understand (scenario projector, MOO, search engine, interactive questionnaire/heuristic, etc.). Be as inclusive as you can be. The following are projected elements in AAPAL as of the end of October 2001. 1. AAPAL Interface. AAPAL is Web-based and the bulk of the data resides on the AAPAL server, but the interface is downloaded to each student’s computer. It consists of a window with the various AAPAL elements provided in menu form. It allows the student to create a personal user name and password for logging into and Ortiz / AAPAL FAQ 3 out of the AAPAL environment. This component would be used to access the AAPAL server where the student’s account data is stored and would dynamically update upon connection. This would allow the students to continue working from whichever point they paused so that there would be no interruption or loss of data when moving back and forth between classroom and home. 2. AAPAL Avatar. This is an animated character which is an avatar for the instructor or educator. This character acts as a virtual guide for the student, showing him or her the various components of AAPAL, introducing each new scenario, explaining how to use AAPAL, and prompting the student to specific actions as necessary. The avatar can be interacted with via text or voice and responds to a list of simple commands such as “Search,” “Read Web page,” “Read email,” “Good-bye,” and other menu commands to open and close the various AAPAL elements or functions. 3. Scenario Environment. This is the multimedia environment in which an interactive scenario is presented for the student. This is where the staged experiences occur. 4. Web-based Email Text Editor. This is a rich text format email text editor which allows the student to write, save, and submit assignments; it also allows for sharing with the instructor and other students. 5. Aapalville. This is also a multimedia environment similar to the scenario environment in appearance except that students can meet here through stock avatars for chats. 6. Search Engine. The search engine does basic Internet searches where the student types in a keyword and a list of locations with that keyword pops up in a browser window according to relevance for immediate reference, but it also works as an agent seeking information for the student even if the student is offline; it can do this because AAPAL resides on the AAPAL server, not on the student’s machine. When the student logs on, the AAPAL avatar is available to let him or her know if new information has been found relevant to the ongoing search. Similarly, using adaptive hypertext, AAPAL can suggest information based on the usage history of the student. Also available is a search of the AAPAL database which grows as both instructors and students add information to it. 7. AAPAL Argument Wizard. Interactive questionnaire to help students write arguments after the formal educational program has ended. Just as Microsoft Word underlines words as potentially misspelled or misused then makes suggestions for alternative spellings or phrasing, the AAPAL argument wizard would remind the student to consciously address the characteristics of the intended audience, help him or her decide the level of acceptance of the audience, decide on an appropriate strategy to address that audience, and then provide feedback to the argument drafts to ensure the completed document is loyal to the strategy.