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Adaptive Instruction Authoring Tools


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate tools that will allow subject matter experts (SMEs), instructional system designers (ISDs) and software engineers to produce simulation-based intelligent tutors and adaptive instruction more efficiently. DESCRIPTION: The impact of intelligent tutoring systems and other forms of adaptive training technologies for promoting learning and subsequent performance has been shown a number of times in traditional classroom content areas such as reading and mathematics. Several applications of adaptive training have also been attempted with some success in more operational contexts such as electronics troubleshooting, power systems maintenance, and, most recently, in information technology troubleshooting and maintenance (see Fletcher, 1988; McCarthy, 2008). However, the development time associated with the creation of these tutors and adaptive training is significant and to date has involved a substantial amount of machine and knowledge engineering to achieve the desired end results. Moreover, high sustainment costs associated with retooling the content layers in these systems as operational domains change, as well as a lack of open source tools to facilitate growth of content databases and to promote domain expert generation of new content, continue to limit growth of these systems in the field. These issues, along with a persistent emphasis on closed and proprietary"one-off"tools, content, and architectures, has limited the broader application of intelligent tutoring and adaptive training systems in the military and especially in more complex operational domains. Prior work has made progress in the use of machine learning (cf. Stevens-Adams, et al., 2010) or high-order languages (cf. Cohen, et al., 2005; St. Amant, et al., 2005; Ritter, et al., 2006) to reduce development and sustainment costs. However, these approaches have characteristics that limit their suitability in a military training environment. For example, SMEs have to take significant time off task to learn the systems needed to create and update content, and there is still a significant dependence on proprietary methods that are costly and keep content from being more open and sharable across similar domains. This effort will address a number of these limitations by creating tools for authoring and maintaining adaptive training systems. These tools should provide intuitive and easy to use methods to allow domain SMEs and other instructional design and content developers with relatively little experience in the underpinnings of tutors or adaptive training system architectures to develop and sustain training applications that promote the benefits associated with this kind of instruction and training. Further, the tools should assist the developers in the application of best practices in instructional science and events of instruction such that the system is both content and instructionally valid. Finally, the developer tools must permit a more open and sharable design for content and instruction such that content and instructional approaches can be generalized across similar content spaces and training contexts. PHASE I: Summarize best practices/applications in intelligent tutoring and adaptive training. Identify key common and unique features. Conduct a capabilities/gap analysis. Develop recommendations and a design specification for a tool set addressing the gaps while supporting more open and user friendly training design and delivery. Identify a content domain of relevance for a Phase II demonstration. PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate the tool set in the content domain identified in Phase I. Implement the tools in an adaptive training exemplar and conduct user and training impact assessments. Refine tools and the exemplar, identify a domain to evaluate the generalizability and reuse of content and instructional approaches and conduct initial evaluations. Document impact of the exemplars on development and sustainment costs and on trainee performance. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The tools will improve training dev/delivery response times in military training squadrons. The tools permit a broader use in complex civilian areas such as emergency response and manned and unmanned border security and infrastructure monitoring where adaptive instruction is sorely needed.
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