Pages: pp. 62-63
Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) appeared during the 1970s, most driven by the success of knowledge-based systems and expert systems. ITS are able to instruct and train students and professionals without the intervention of human beings. ITS introduced a set of ideas, like the use of computational models of domains, allowing the possibility of reasoning and explaining domain problems automatically. Developments were made in trainees' models, instructional and pedagogical planning, and user interface. In the 1990s, with the Web boom, some ITS ideas were incorporated in new computer-aided instruction paradigms, like e-learning and distributed learning. However, there is a clear difference in the level of interactions and types of skills addressed by ITS and other e-learning systems.
ITS are a good example of the use and combination of artificial intelligence techniques. Besides expert systems, other areas like natural language, machine learning, planning, multi-agent systems, ontologies, semantic Web, and social and emotional computing have been used with success in ITS. Other technologies have been applied or combined with ITS, namely, multimedia, object-oriented systems, distributed systems, databases, modeling, simu-lation, statistics, and communications. However, the suc-cess of ITS requires the attention of other nontechnological areas, like education sciences, psychology, and sociology.
In the last several years, ITS have moved from research labs into the real world. Many systems were developed and deployed, even for critical and complex domains. The reported benefits demonstrated by the users of these sys-tems are impressive. ITS-taught trainees generally learn faster and translate the learning into improved perform-ance better than classroom-trained participants. Today, ITS can be produced by authoring tools, and specific evaluation and assessment methods can be used.
Since 1988, a conference has been organized every two years: the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, held recently in Montreal, Canada. Several conferences organize tutorials, workshops, special tracks, and sessions dedicated to the ITS topic (e.g., the ITS special track at FLAIRS 2008 held in Miami, Florida).
The idea behind creating this special issue on real world applications of intelligent tutoring systems was to bring together in a single publication some of the most important examples of success in the use of ITS technology. This will serve as a reference to all researchers working in the area. It will also be an important resource for the industry, showing the maturity of ITS technology and creating an atmosphere for funding new ITS projects. Simultaneously, it will be valuable to academic groups, motivating students for new ideas of ITS and promoting new academic research work in the area.
From a set of submitted papers with high-quality work, eight have been selected to be included in this special issue.
The paper by Vincent Aleven, Bruce M. McLaren, and Jonathan Sewall from Carnegie-Mellon University describes the use of Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools (CTAT) in the creation of Mathtutor, an open-access Web site supporting sophisticated tutoring behaviors, such as teaching multiple solution strategies, showing dependencies among problem steps, and supporting multiple interpretations of student behavior.
The paper by Mingyu Feng, Neil N. Heffernan, Cristina C. Heffernan, and Murali Mani from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute uses the ASSISTment System with a fine-grained skill model. Experiments with eighth grade students in mathematics in Massachusetts show that ITS can predict state scores accurately.
MATHEMA, an adaptive educational hypermedia sys-tem, is presented in the paper by Alexandros Papadimitriou, Maria Grigoriadou, and Georgios Gyftodimos from the University of Athens. This system supports senior students in Greek high schools or students of colleges who are novices in physics (electromagnetism) individually and/or collaboratively, overcoming their misconceptions and learning difficulties.
Computer science students are faced with some difficulties in programming with some data structures. The work of Davide Fossati, Barbara Di Eugenio, Stellan Ohlsson, David G. Cosejo, and Lin Chen from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Christopher W. Brown, from the United States Naval Academy, presents iList, an ITS way of helping students in learning linked lists and giving explanations for syntax and execution errors.
The paper by Orla Lahart, Declan Kelly, and Brendan Tangney from the National College of Ireland presents PACT, Parent and Child Tutor, an ITS that addresses the challenge of building an adaptive system which simultaneously supports both parents and children in the home tutoring environment. The paper focuses on the effect of PACT on parental self-efficacy.
The paper by Luiz Faria, António Silva, and Zita Vale from the Institute of Engineering, Polytechnic of Porto, and Albino Marques from the Energies of Portugal utility describes the use of ITS for training control center operators in tasks like incident analysis and diagnosis (DiagTutor) and service restoration (CoopTutor) of power systems. The system combines several artificial intelligence techniques.
Emilio Remolina, Sowmya Ramachandran, Richard Stottler, and Alex Davis, from Stottler Henke Associates, present PORTS TAO-ITS, a deployed ITS for the instruction of Tactical Action Officers in training at the Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island. PORTS TAO-ITS illustrates a simulation-based learn-by-doing tactical system where students interact with simulated teammates.
ASSISTment Builder is a tool designed to effectively create, edit, test, and deploy tutor contents. Leena Razzaq, Jozsef Patvarczki, Shane F. Almeida, Manasi Vartak, Mingyu Feng, and Neil T. Heffernan, from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Kenneth R. Koedinger, from Carnegie-Mellon University, describe the use of this tool for reducing the cost of content creation.
The guest editors of this special issue wish to express their gratitude to all authors who submitted their papers and to the reviewers who contributed their reviews and suggestions for improvements to the papers, especially those accepted for this issue. We are also indebted to Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Nejdl and Associate-Editor-in-Chief Peter Brusilovsky for the opportunity to make this special issue a reality and for their helpful opinions. Marion Wicht deserves our thanks for facilitating the process. We expect that this special issue will be very helpful for IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies readers and for the intelligent tutoring systems community.
Carlos Ramos Claude Frasson Sowmya Ramachandran Guest Editors