Java™ Intelligent Tutoring System Model and Architecture

Edward R. Sykes

Accessibility of computers and computer resources are increasing in our society at a staggering rate. Computer technology is changing more rapidly now than at any other time in history and the price of computers are continually decreasing inversely proportional to the power they deliver. Nearly 50% of households in Canada and the United States have computers [15]. Internet connections and capabilities are growing at an amazing rate due to the number of people who want to be connected to the world of information [15]. Internet Service Providers are upgrading their infrastructure to support real-time video and audio to their clients. Personal Digital Assistants such as cellular telephones and palm-pilots are Internet-ready and becoming commonplace in our society. In spite of the advances in computer technology and accessibility, educators have been relatively slow in seizing technology to enhance student learning. There are significant problems in the context of personalized student instruction in current educational systems that can be remedied through the use of appropriate technologies. Online teaching tools such as WebCT and Blackboard are becoming extremely popular for distance and in-class education. In fact, entire universities have implemented online teaching tools as the central mechanism for delivering all of their courses [16]. The strength of these tools is their ability to provide the teacher and student with a great deal of versatility within the learning environment [16]. Unfortunately, they do not provide any means by which a student may receive ongoing personalized instruction. Teaching students on a one-on-one basis significantly influences the degree of knowledge and skill retained by the student; Bloom [3] showed that an individual human tutor can improve student learning by two standard deviations over classroom instruction. In other words, the average individually tutored student performs better than 98 percent of students in a classroom instructional environment [10]. This raises the following crisis in the educational community. In order for students to reach their potential they need individual tutoring. However, due to numerous limitations such as access to online teaching tools, financial considerations, and sheer logistics each student cannot be granted access to a personalized human tutor for a consistent duration of time. After all, traditionally there is only one teacher in a classroom of students. So, what can be done to solve this problem? One solution lies in the implementation of Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

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