The Necessity and an Outline of an Integral Approach to Designing Intelligent Tutoring Systems of a New Generation
Towards Increasing Effectiveness of Knowledge Transfer on the Basis of Ideas and Methods of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science
Moderators & Summarizers:
1. Shortcomings of the Dominant Current Approach to the Design of Intelligent Tutoring Systems
The XXth century is moving to its ending. During the second half of this century, science and technology have received a lot of outstanding results. However, many millions of children throughout the world encounter huge difficulties in studying various school disciplines: from mathematics and physics to literature and foreign languages. The inability to master school disciplines is a very essential (probably, principal) cause of numerous conflicts between children and adults – teachers and parents. The shortcomings of school education are the cause of difficulties encountered by many college students in mastering the learned disciplines.
In the beginning of the 1980s, many specialists in Computer Science (especially, in Artificial Intelligence) believed that the design of intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) may considerably contribute to the progress in preuniversity and university education. Many efforts have been undertaken in this direction. However, the accumulated experience has not confirmed these hopes. In general, the use of ITSs has not improved the situation as a whole.
It appears that the principal shortcomings of the major part of the
existing ITSs are as follows.
2. What is Necessary
We suppose that it is necessary to elaborate an up-to-date paradigm of constructing ITSs of a new generation. To our opinion, the ideas of Artificial Intelligence theory, Cognitive Science (including our Theory of Dynamic Conceptual Mappings), and Philosophy of Language do provide such a possibility.
The focus of the discussion below is basic principles of designing ITSs destined for helping to achieve the needed level of knowledge by the most part of different age groups of the society. I.e., the focus is the ITSs destined for the use in the classroom. However, the formulated principles may be easy used and seem to be precious for constructing ITSs destined for the individual work at home.
We see the basic principles of constructing intelligent tutoring
systems of a new generation as follows.
3. ITSs of a new generation must become an organic part of the
teaching process, including the teacher. This means, first of all, the
4. ITSs must give the teacher the possibility to select the most
appropriate kinds of the learning activity proceeding from the
estimation of the emotional state of the learners. For instance, it
would be desirable to suggest the different forms of the work with the
ITS in the humanities after a soccer match and after a voluminous test
in mathematics or physics.
It is known that in many countries with different level of economic
development, very many children are unable to master such
sublanguage of their mother tongue which is necessary for building a
successful carrier. Meanwhile, there are scientific and experimental
data showing how positively the development of children's language
abilities influences the development of their thinking and mental
It seems important to note that the use of linguistic information
technologies is important for constructing one part (though
considerable) of the ITSs of a new generation. And the other part may
be elaborated with the help of more traditional technologies.
Hence for successful social adaptation of children (including
teenagers), it is highly important to develop properly their abilities
of effective processing symbolic information.
10. The ITSs of a new generation must constitute one family or several
large families destined for solving together a complex of tasks of
education and up-bringing (in case of children and young adults – in
particular, university students).
3. Goals of the DiscussionWith respect to the above-said, we initiate the discussion with the following goals:
Post-discussion summaryThe discussion showed the necessity to think about a Teacher Model analysing different teaching styles (Ashok Patel) and even about a more general CONSISTENT MODEL of an education system/process in the future (Rossen Rashev). These ideas seem to be more promising than having a try to categorize the learners by learning styles.
Dennis R. Nelson suggested the interesting idea of believing that “the true teacher model is the parent”. We suppose that the parents and the teachers have different rights as concerns a child. That is why, to our opinion, this analogy can’t be accepted as a whole. However, it enables us to put forward the following constructive hypothesis: analysing the successful methods of teaching and up-bringing children, we have the chances to find a lot of ideas which may prove to be effective as concerns the transfer of knowledge to the grownups.
Greg Hume, Cossi Grandguenon, and Angel de Vicente supported the idea of modeling the emotional state of the student. It is worth mentioning that the emotional state of a student at the moment of acquiring knowledge can influence the result of it greatly.
The admission of the existence of a gap between entertainment and education caused a discussion about learning and playing. John Eklund stated that he did not make the distinction between play and learning: "“Play is learning. Learning need not be a serious activity at all”. This viewpoint (supported by Mike Peay, David Graves, and some other participants of the discussion) led to the question whether the very act of “consciously learning” caused additional stress (Ashok Patel).
In response to it, Akihiro Kashihara agreed that it was true in case the learners had no/little motivation to learn. Meanwhile, he stressed that the key point of learning in this view was not conscious/unconscious but the extent of motivation to learn.
It is clear that motivation would come from different things: curiosity, necessity, obligations, fun, etc. In order to extend the motivation to learn, one should extend, enrich the inner conceptual picture of the world of a child, making it possible for him/her to enjoy the processes of reasoning, reflection, symbolic information processing , etc.
A special attention should be paid to creativity as one of the main feature of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs). The idea of constructing systems stimulating the learners to carry out some activities of exploratory character, developing the creativity of the learners was supported by Clark N. Quinn. Gary B. Grant stressed that computers offer interactivity and control which should promote creativity.
The idea of “real life” learning experience was supported by William R. Terrell. It proves to be very useful while teaching students, postgraduates. As for teaching kids, we also should take into account their life and emotional experience.
It should be stressed that we should be very careful deciding whether to design ITSs for kids or not (Vilnis Vulfs, John Schwartz, Gary B. Grant). Certainly, kids do not need to get lost in some virtual world, because they are happy to penetrate the real world surrounding them.
Though modern ITSs have a number of drawbacks mentioned during the discussion, and they are very far from being thrilling, it is possible to elaborate a new conception for designing ITSs of a new generation. Henry Brzeski stated that many students needed to see a human face. Clark N. Quinn supported the idea and preferred to have teachers in the loop. And it should be one of the main demands to ITSs of a new generation.
Katy Luchini supported that ITSs have a great potential for bridging a gap between entertainment and education. Starting bridging this gap, all the participants of the discussion came to the conclusion that “to laugh is better than not to laugh”, because “laughing brings and gives us real motivation of learning” (Arun-Kumar Tripathi), but we should be careful lest we should have a mess-up situation. By “laughter” we are meaning engagement and interactivity (John Eklund), and a teacher should certainly joke and make children laugh.
It is very important that our discussion attracted the attention of practical teachers (Cossi Grandguenon, Natalie Perzylo). Because ITSs are destined to be successful with teachers in the loop.
Kelly Tribble noted that “all forms of play are learning … but not all forms of learning are play. Perhaps we should …”.
Why not, if we find the right definition for playing, right for kids and right for adults.
Mike Collett and Tom Abeles saw in the materials of the formal discussion the tendency to consider ITSs as a reinforcement of existing methods of teaching rather than contributing to a new generation.
We suppose that there is no contradiction between (a) the aim to proceed from the best methods and experience of face-to-face-teaching in the classroom while elaborating new ITSs and (b) the aim of constructing ITSs of a new generation.
Our own interests are mainly in teaching children. There are known various approaches to teaching children, and we do know for sure that some of these approaches are very effective, flexible and contribute to forming a highly positive attitude of the child to the process of acquiring knowledge.
These methods by far exceed the possibilities of existing ITSs. Hence the task of constructing new ITSs with respect to the best accumulated theoretical experience and practical experience of teaching is a progressive one.
Obviously, in case technical achievements provide the possibility to realize some new effective manners of teaching and learning, it would be natural to try to do it and to analyse the results.
In this connection, we would like to note that one should be very careful while realizing new technical possibilities in ITSs or in distance education.
For instance, Mike Collett supposes that the learners must be able to add content to the system to be used (or not) by others. To our opinion, there are such effective, subtle, exact methods of explaining to children difficult pieces of theoretical materials (for instance, some pieces of a foreign language grammar) that the mentioned technical ability will contribute to inserting unuseful content into the system, to stimulating unproductive associations, questions, ideas and to diminishing the effectiveness of the learning process.
On the other hand, we share the ideas of Mike Collett about the importance of taking into account the peculiarities of the culture, language, and educational needs of different users throughout the world and about the necessity of elaborating new economical foundations of constructing and using ITSs and using distance education.