I-TUTOR Newsletter – 4th issue

The partnership is proud to successfully finish the I-TUTOR project. In the final newsletter you will find an interesting short interview with one of the leading personalities and the coordinator of the project, Professor Pier Giuseppe Rossi, from the University of Macerata about the collaboration of experts from the fields of education and computer science.

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Interview with I-TUTOR contributor 4.

The I-TUTOR project team would like to show you the creative process behind the project work. We conducted short interviews with various contributors to offer you a unique view on the I-TUTOR development. Our second interview is with Roberto Pirrone from University of Palermo, Italy.

Roberto_last_smallWhat is your role in the I-TUTOR project?

I lead a research group, which joined the project to accomplish both research activity in Artificial Intelligence and HCI applications for VLEs, and to develop the software tool along with the University of Reading partner.

What was your main interest in the project?
We were mainly interested to intelligent support to the interaction between the user, and the system. In the I-TUTOR project there was a challenging mix of obstacles to be overcome: the interface should have had to dialogue with users in four languages, and many atomic data had to be taken into consideration to provide teachers and tutors with useful information for monitoring and/or profiling students. At the same time, students had to elicit their meta-cognitive abilities while using the system. We adopted an almost visual interface were the textual interaction is reduced to the minimum level, and information is conveyed graphically. At the same time, we used semantic computing to allow the teacher building a concept map for representing the course domain, and indexing the learning materials of the course. The teacher builds the map by providing a textual corpus where all the relevant concepts in the course domain are described and tagged with suitable keywords. The map is represented in a zooming user interface (ZUI) where the user sees clouds of keywords, and she can zoom into a single region discovering secondary keywords. At the maximum zoom level, the user can browse the course materials directly. Materials produced by the students, and social interactions (i.e. chats and forums) are projected into the map thus producing a visualization of their “activity” in the learning environment. Maps are running currently in four languages: English, Italian, Greek, and Hungarian.

What did you find suprising, more complicated or easier than expected?
As a software engineer I was challenged by the issues posed by system integration: Java based W3C standard components have been developed and coupled with Moodle that is a PHP based framework. We addressed this problems inserting our components into some Moodle plugins, and developing purposed PHP code for managing interaction and control passing. There were some security issues but we obtained a very scalable solution, which was replicated for all the components.

What new questions arise while working on the project?
New questions are related to the possibility of building a course domain representation, which should be able to elicit deep semantics and contextual relations between the relevant concepts better than the current result. A the same time, a minimum effort should be required to the teacher when she describes the domain.

What do you think about the future of the results, what would you like to see as a continuation of the project?

The whole partnership made a good job in the project, and I think there is room for deepening the research issues that are still open. I’d like to continue the project in the direction of intelligent support to the learning design. This aspect has been not developed in deep due to the project’s time constraints. On the other hand, it is very interesting because it should be faced using the findings in the field knowledge discovery, and workflow management.

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I-TUTOR Newsletter – 3rd issue

The Intelligent Tutoring for Lifelong Learning – I-TUTOR project published its third newsletter with the announcement of the I-TUTOR plugin. The developed plugin is applied and tested in Moodle but it is suitable in other open source learning environments as well. It monitors, tracks, analyzes and gives formative assessment and feedback to students within the learning environment while giving input to tutors and teachers involved in distance learning to enhance their role during the process of teaching. It available to download for free with User Manual in English, Italian, Greek and Hungarian. Read newsletter HERE.

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Source Code online

The codes – thanks to colleagues from the University of Reading (UK) and the University of Palermo (IT) – are available!

The profiler is here
The Moodle block for the chatbot is here
The timeline report view is here

This code is (c) but licensed for re-use (currently listed as an Apache-2.0 licence, subject to confirmation with K.Lundqvist)

The Profiler uses a third party library (weka) which is not included in the link provided.
The chat bot provides a way of embedding a separate chat bot, specifically Owllang
The timeline report is dependent on a clustering agent to produce suitable data (such as the profiler, in this case)

Semantic maps and reporting is available here (Moodle examples) and here (plugin and web applications).

Please refer to the README file for installation instructions.

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Report on the I-TUTOR Workshop: Artificial Intelligence and Learning – an Evolving Relationship

The I-TUTOR consortium, in cooperation with SIREM – Società Italiana di Ricerca sull’Educazione Mediale held its final I-TUTOR workshop at 13 November 2013 – University of Bari, Italy, In the frame of the SIREM conference

Online learning can significantly be supported by intelligent components, agents and systems, and dialogue between experts of learning and technology domains should be promoted and pursued, to enhance mutual understanding and the development of joint solutions – was the main message of the event.

2013-11-13 16.45.47During the event attendees had a first hand recital of the features and uses of the I-TUTOR plugin as well as a chance to ask questions and exchange ideas with the plugin developers and representatives of the piloting institutions present. The presentations about the project and about the plugin – I-TUTOR Plugin: Presentation of the main features and I-TUTOR Maps: exploring the theoretical background by Roberto Pirrone; Clustering and chatbots in learning tools by Karsten Lundqvist – are available to download.

The project also put out a call for paper for collecting experiences, cases, visions, approaches on artificial intelligence use in learning environments. The authors of the best papers were invited to present: an adaptive conversation-based learning approach was introduced as well as the relationship between learning environments and digital citizenship. The papers will be published by Italian e-Learning Association (SIe-L) in the Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, in the December issue.

Presentations:

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I-TUTOR workshop: final PROGRAMME!

The I-TUTOR consortium, in cooperation with SIREM – Società Italiana di Ricerca sull’Educazione Mediale invites you to the I-TUTOR workshop

Artificial Intelligence and Learning: an Evolving Relationship

a SIREM conference event

WHERE: Centro Polifunzionale per Studenti (Ex Palazzo delle poste)
Università degli Studi di Bari – Piazza Cesare Battisti
SALA I

WHEN:

13 November 2013 – University of Bari, Italy

from 14:30 till 19:00

The detailed programme:

I-TUTOR_workshop_FINAL_PROGRAMME

 

14.30-15.00 Registration 
15.00-15.30 Introduction to the I-TUTOR project, aims, beliefs, hypothesis and implementation Pier Giuseppe Rossi, University of Macerata, Italy
15.30-16.00 The I-TUTOR plugin Roberto Pirrone, University of Palermo, Italy
16.00-16.30 Break and networking

 

At Frulez, Piazza Umberto I, 14
16.30 – 18.30 Talking AIED – sharing experiences and practices 
16.30 Learning environments and digital citizenship Fernando Sarracino, University Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples, Italy 
16.50 The design, development and implementation of a mentoring online environment for a university  Patricia Rosas Chávez, UDG1, Efrén de la Mora Velasco, UDG, Wendy Díaz Pérez, UDG, MarcoTulio Daza Ramírez, UDG, México

 

17.10 An adaptive conversation-based learning approach  Giuseppina Rita Mangione, Sergio Miranda, Francesco Orciuoli, Pierluigi Ritrovato,DIEM, University of Salerno, Italy

 

17.30 Clustering and chatbots in learning tools Karsten Oster Lundqvist, University of Reading, United Kingdom 
17.50 Educational design and neural networks Pier Giuseppe Rossi, University of Macerata, Italy 
18.10 I-TUTOR Maps: exploring the theoretical background  Roberto Pirrone, University of Palermo, Italy 
18.30-19.00 Conclusions Dénes Zarka, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary
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Interview with I-TUTOR contributor 3.

The I-TUTOR project team would like to show you the creative process behind the project work. We conducted short interviews with various contributors to offer you a unique view on the I-TUTOR development. Our second interview is with Dénes Zarka from Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary.

zarkis1. What is your role in the I-TUTOR project?
I coordinated the literature research workpackage and also wrote a chapter with an Italian colleague in the book that we have published. I also participate in the piloting of the product and I am responsible for the exploitation plan.

2. What was your main interest in the project?
My main interest in the project was to see how intelligent systems could really help in the tutition-learning process and if we already can create agents that are language and context independent.

3. What did you find suprising, more complicated or easier than expected?
One of the functions, the semantic map seems to be more complicated  in the preparation phase to use: to teach the agent, and to adjust the functionning.

4. What new questions arise while working on the project?
Many. As the programmers are constantly developping this multi-agent robot, I would be happy to be able to restart the testing. We still did not find the optimal way of using this robot.

5. What do you think about the future of the results, what would you like to see as a continuation of the project?
Massive testing and measurement on technological and methodological side. This product will be ideal either for engineers to test and develop it further, and also for tutors and methodology experts to see where and how to implement the robot. What are the benefits for different players in the ICT based educational process.

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Interview with I-TUTOR contributor 2.


The I-TUTOR project team would like to show you the creative process behind the project work. We conducted short interviews with various contributors to offer you a unique view on the I-TUTOR development. Our second interview is with Kyriakos Lingas from Militos Emerging Technologies and Services, Greece.

Kyriakos1. What is your role in the I-TUTOR project?
Militos is responsible for evaluation and quality assurance with respect to the procedures, work-plan and outputs of the I-TUTOR project. A special dimension of evaluation refers to the facilitation of three external experts coming from the fields of Computer Science, Pedagogy and EU policies in the field of Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED). Thus, in close collaboration with the rest of the partners, Militos has managed and implemented all necessary steps in identifying, selecting and contracting these experts, while monitoring and coordinating all evaluation procedures and tasks within this scope. Of course, in terms of keeping up a collaborative spirit among the I-TUTOR partnership, Militos provides input throughout the rest of the planned activities.

2. What was your main interest in the project?
We have been and still are very active in various initiatives and programmes at the national and EU level within the frame of lifelong learning. Thus, I-TUTOR falls within our main scope of interests and respective expertise. Furthermore, participating in such a project, which actually deals with the issue of ‘human’ – ‘machine’ communication and especially in the field of education, is really challenging. It is great to be part of this conversation between actors in the fields of pedagogy on the one side and technology on the other, as it is really interesting to follow the ways by which bridges between the two worlds are built towards a common goal!

3. What did you find surprising, more complicated or easier than expected?
AIED is a very novel field, both in terms of the state-of-the-art in ICT technologies, as well as in the field of online learning, education and pedagogy methodologies. What was really surprising, in a positive way, was the gradual construction of a common ground of collaboration between the partners coming from diverse professional and academic fields. This helped enormously in touching bases with the main objective of the I-TUTOR project i.e. the development of the I-TUTOR plug-in. It was and still is a success by all means, the fact that from one consortium meeting to the other, things became more and more clear, regarding what the partnership has accomplished and what lies ahead of us.

4. What new questions arise while working on the project?
Living up to the challenge! This was the main issue! In line with this, the thing that really concerned us – which is actually the current phase of the project we are in – is the level by which our efforts would be appreciated by our piloting audiences. It looks quite nice from where we stand by now, which is good for the extra mile in front of us.

5. What do you think about the future of the results, what would you like to see as a continuation of the project?
This is about the ‘Now what?’ question. I’m sure that there will be some kind of a legacy for the I-TUTOR project and its outcomes. The work already done by everyone in this partnership – be it the leader, the tech partners and Universities, the actors responsible for dissemination, evaluation, exploitation and piloting – is really good so far as I can judge. It would be really great – and actually this is what we are up to – if various deliverables, ranging from the collected literature in AIED and our lengthy but worthy e-book, to the I-TUTOR plug in itself, could be integrated in the educational ‘toolboxes’ and reference pools of the participating educational structures, as well as other entities in the field among the consortium countries and beyond.

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Interview with I-TUTOR contributor 1.


The I-TUTOR project team would like to show you the creative process behind the project work. We conducted short interviews with various contributors to offer you a unique view on the I-TUTOR development. Our first interview is with Dr. Karsten Lundqvist from University of Reading, UK.

Karsten-for-online-educa-199x300What is your role in the I-TUTOR project?
I am a Lecturer in Systems Engineering at the University of Reading (UoR), and I am the principle investigator from UoR within the I-TUTOR project. UoR has got several tasks within the project, however our primary work concentrates around the implementation of different tools. For instance we have made the statistical data mining aids and the chatbot system. We have also designed the website of the project.

What was your main interest in the project?
Personally I find it very interesting to investigating and designing AI tools within educational settings. Work has been done in the area, but not enough, and the possibilities of using these tools are plentiful. In the past many disregarded them because it is difficult to predict the benefits, but I think that a project like I-TUTOR allows us to look at this pragmatically. That is what is needed.

What did you find suprising, more complicated or easier than expected?
When developing data mining tools I always see myself as a “detective”. I am investigating data to try and find common features or indeed outliers within the pool of data. We had some pools of data to begin with, however the structure of the data from the different pools were so significantly different that it was impossible to find commonalities. Educational data might be like that, due to the different styles of teaching/learning that happens in real life. Therefore many standard data mining tools could not be used to develop the I-TUTOR tools.

The pragmatic approach was then to create a tool that tutors and students can use to highlight the current situation that they find themselves in. This is what the statistical datamining tool aims to achieve. It was hard to get to that, because my personal hope was to utilise more AI techniques in this area.

What new questions arise while working on the project?
It would be interesting to investigate bigger educational data samples to see if the diversity is common across the sector, or if there are commonalities that could be identified at a higher level when investigating across the sector. However we are talking many data sources over several years. Such a project would have to be big, and involve many more partners than I-TUTOR has involved.

What do you think about the future of the results, what would you like to see as a continuation of the project?
I think that the pragmatic approach we have taken is a good approach that are producing tools that can be used in real educational settings. I am confident that they will be used. This in itself is a very good result. I would also like to see new research questions being addressed in future project. This is a fantastic research team, and it would be a shame not to continue the work that we have already achieved.

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