NATO HFM 237 Final Report: Assessment of Intelligent Tutoring Systems Technologies and Opportunities
People ... the most critical elements of any military system are well-trained soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines. Present and future military missions conducted by NATO or their member countries will require highly trained individuals and collective teams to perform in extreme environments across a wide variety of task domains. It is critical that NATO exploit every tool and method available to assure a trained and ready military. Traditional classroom training is one method used in most NATO countries, but it is much less effective than one-to-one human tutoring. Ideally, NATO countries would provide tutors for every military member, but it is not practical to provide one-to-one human tutoring in every task domain required by NATO. The NATO Training Group’s (NTG) working group on Individual Training and Educational Development (IT&ED) identified substantial instructional efficiencies to be achievable through the use of computer technology. Opportunities identified included both reduced costs and enhanced training effectiveness. However, most of the training effects were limited to memorization, understanding, and application of relatively straightforward facts, concepts, and procedures, and failed to exercise higher level cognitive skills (e.g., problem-solving and decision-making), provided few options to exercise skills in psychomotor domains (e.g., marksmanship), and almost no options to exercise collective or collaborative (social/team) skills.
Recently, Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) have begun to show equivalent effects to expert human tutors in providing tailored or adaptive learning experiences, but these experiences were primarily in well-defined cognitive domains. Still, the promise of adaptive instruction provided by computers might be a viable training option if the primary challenges could be identified and solutions discovered to enhance and accelerate learning. The recommendation of Research Task Group (RTG) HFM-165 in their final report along with the proposed work plan by HFM Exploratory Team (ET)-120 prompted NATO to charter HFM-237 Research Task Group (RTG) to investigate both existing and emerging ITS technologies and identify opportunities for their use in NATO training. This report summarizes the RTG’s work plan and their findings along with chapters on ITS processes and applications. The report is a ready reference of ITS research and technology. The RTG examined the literature and activities in countries within and outside of NATO to discover the background, opportunities, and limits of ITS technologies (tools and methods). Tailoring experiences to individual learners and teams is the key to enhancing learning effect and accelerating the pace of learning.
Review of the literature, current and emerging research, and prototype development identified challenges in four major areas: authoring (development), standardization, data analytics, and adaptive interfaces. ITSs are currently expensive to author and require specialized skills including domain knowledge, instructional design, and computer programming. Emerging technologies are beginning to reduce the authoring burden through automation and enhanced usability. Authoring tools have been used to develop prototype tutors for both psychomotor and collective task domains which are increasing the relevance and ROI for ITS technologies with respect to military training needs. Standards may be another strategy to reduce the cost of ITSs by increasing reuse of ITSs and their components by promoting interoperability between learner models, standardizing instructional strategies, developing common communication protocols, and leveraging existing standards (e.g., experience Application Programming Interface – xAPI) to model learner competencies in various task domains. The ability to understand and model our learner population, course content, and instructional strategies through data analytics will allow training developers and managers to adapt ITS technologies to optimize learning outcomes. Finally, adaptive interfaces should be dynamic to adapt to the needs of individuals and their varying roles in ITS development, deployment, and evaluation.