Building a Backbone for Multi-Agent Tutoring in GIFT (Work in Progress) (bibtex)
by Benjamin D. Nye, Daniel Auerbach, Tirth R. Mehta, Arno Hartholt
Abstract:
As intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) increasingly need to interoperate and co-exist, emerging systems have transitioned toward service-oriented designs to enable modularity and composability of tutoring components made and/or maintained by different research and development groups. However, as a research community, we have still not reached a point where it is trivial for a new service to be added into a system like the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring (GIFT; Sottilare, Goldberg, Brawner, & Holden, 2012). In an early paper considering this issue with respect to the GIFT architecture (Nye & Morrison, 2013), we proposed addressing this issue by building toward a lightweight multi-agent archi-tecture where certain services act as autonomous agents: “a system situated within and a part of an environment that senses that environment and acts on it, over time, in pursuit of its own agenda and so as to affect what it senses in the future” (Franklin & Graesser, 1997; p. 25). In our work in progress described here, we discuss how we are approaching the opportunity to build such capabilities into GIFT. The high level goals of our work are targeting two core goals for GIFT: A) to be a lightweight framework that will expand access to and use of ITS and B) to help GIFT to increase the intelligence and effectiveness of its services based on data over time. We are currently targeting the first goal, which will underpin the second goal. However, what does it mean to be a lightweight framework? In this context, a “lightweight framework” is framed as minimizing the following criteria: (1) hardware requirements, (2) software expertise to design services, (3) software expertise to use existing services, (4) software expertise to stand up the message-passing layer between agents, and (5) a minimal working message ontology (Nye & Morrison, 2013). Since our original paper four years ago, GIFT has made significant strides in reducing barriers related to hardware by building a cloud-based version and software expertise to use GIFT services through authoring tools. It has also developed a growing ontology of messages (e.g., https://gifttutoring.org/projects/gift/wiki/Interface\_Control\_Document\_2016-1). With that said, despite now-extensive documentation, designing new services for GIFT is still not trivial and strong expertise is required to pass messages between GIFT modules and agents (either internal or external). To address these issues, the Building a Backbone project is working toward agent-oriented designs that build on GIFT's existing service-oriented framework. By moving from services toward agents, modules will be able to act more autonomously, enabling capabilities such as plug-and-play, hotswapping, and selecting between multiple services providing the same capabilities. These new capabilities are intended to reduce barriers to building new GIFT-compatible services and also to integrating GIFT with other service-oriented ecosystems. The first steps toward these capabilities are an ontology mapping service and an initial integration that combines GIFT, the Virtual Human Toolkit core framework for agents, and the SuperGLU framework for adding agent-oriented capabilities for coordinating services. This paper reports on work to date, with an emphasis on target capabilities, design decisions, challenges, and open research questions for this work.
Reference:
Building a Backbone for Multi-Agent Tutoring in GIFT (Work in Progress) (Benjamin D. Nye, Daniel Auerbach, Tirth R. Mehta, Arno Hartholt), In Proceedings of the GIFTSym5, ARL, 2017.
Bibtex Entry:
@inproceedings{nye_building_2017,
	address = {Orlando, Florida},
	title = {Building a {Backbone} for {Multi}-{Agent} {Tutoring} in {GIFT} ({Work} in {Progress})},
	url = {https://books.google.com/books?id=PwMtDwAAQBAJ&printsec=copyright&source=gbs_pub_info_r#v=onepage&q&f=false},
	abstract = {As intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) increasingly need to interoperate and co-exist, emerging systems have transitioned toward service-oriented designs to enable modularity and composability of tutoring components made and/or maintained by different research and development groups. However, as a research community, we have still not reached a point where it is trivial for a new service to be added into a system like the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring (GIFT; Sottilare, Goldberg, Brawner, \& Holden, 2012). In an early paper considering this issue with respect to the GIFT architecture (Nye \& Morrison, 2013), we proposed addressing this issue by building toward a lightweight multi-agent archi-tecture where certain services act as autonomous agents: “a system situated within and a part of an environment that senses that environment and acts on it, over time, in pursuit of its own agenda and so as to affect what it senses in the future” (Franklin \& Graesser, 1997; p. 25).
In our work in progress described here, we discuss how we are approaching the opportunity to build such capabilities into GIFT. The high level goals of our work are targeting two core goals for GIFT: A) to be a lightweight framework that will expand access to and use of ITS and B) to help GIFT to increase the intelligence and effectiveness of its services based on data over time. We are currently targeting the first goal, which will underpin the second goal. However, what does it mean to be a lightweight framework? In this context, a “lightweight framework” is framed as minimizing the following criteria: (1) hardware requirements, (2) software expertise to design services, (3) software expertise to use existing services, (4) software expertise to stand up the message-passing layer between agents, and (5) a minimal working message ontology (Nye \& Morrison, 2013). Since our original paper four years ago, GIFT has made significant strides in reducing barriers related to hardware by building a cloud-based version and software expertise to use GIFT services through authoring tools. It has also developed a growing ontology of messages (e.g., https://gifttutoring.org/projects/gift/wiki/Interface\_Control\_Document\_2016-1). With that said, despite now-extensive documentation, designing new services for GIFT is still not trivial and strong expertise is required to pass messages between GIFT modules and agents (either internal or external).
To address these issues, the Building a Backbone project is working toward agent-oriented designs that build on GIFT's existing service-oriented framework. By moving from services toward agents, modules will be able to act more autonomously, enabling capabilities such as plug-and-play, hotswapping, and selecting between multiple services providing the same capabilities. These new capabilities are intended to reduce barriers to building new GIFT-compatible services and also to integrating GIFT with other service-oriented ecosystems. The first steps toward these capabilities are an ontology mapping service and an initial integration that combines GIFT, the Virtual Human Toolkit core framework for agents, and the SuperGLU framework for adding agent-oriented capabilities for coordinating services. This paper reports on work to date, with an emphasis on target capabilities, design decisions, challenges, and open research questions for this work.},
	booktitle = {Proceedings of the {GIFTSym}5},
	publisher = {ARL},
	author = {Nye, Benjamin D. and Auerbach, Daniel and Mehta, Tirth R. and Hartholt, Arno},
	month = may,
	year = {2017},
	keywords = {Learning Sciences, UARC, Virtual Humans},
	pages = {23--35}
}
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