Tutalk: Infrastructure for authoring and experimenting with natural language dialogue in tutoring systems and learning research

Funded by: NSF through the Pittsburgh Sciences of Learning Center
PI: Carolyn Rose
Collaborators: Pamela Jordan and Diane Litman at the University of Pittsburgh
Students and Staff: Gahgene Gweon, Sandhya Pillalamari
Website: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~cprose/TuTalk.html

The focus of our proposed work is to provide an infrastructure that will allow learning researchers to study dialogue in new ways and for educational technology researchers to quickly build dialogue based help systems for their tutoring systems. Most tutorial dialogue systems that to date have undergone successful evaluations (CIRCSIM, AutoTutor, WHY-Atlas, the Geometry Explanation Tutor) represent development efforts of many man-years. These systems were instrumental in pushing the technology forward and in proving that tutorial dialogue systems are feasible and useful in realistic educational contexts, although not always provably better on a pedagogical level than the more challenging alternatives to which they have been compared. We are now entering a new phase in which we as a research community must not only continue to improve the effectiveness of basic tutorial dialogue technology but also must find ways of accelerating both the process of investigating the effective use of dialogue as a learning intervention as well as development of usable tutorial dialogue systems. We propose to develop a community resource to address all three of these problems on a grand scale, building upon our prior work developing both basic dialogue technology and tools for rapid development of running dialogue systems.