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

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 provide tools that support investigating the effective use of dialogue as a learning intervention as well as application of tutorial dialogue systems by those who are not dialogue system researchers. 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. (Pam Jordan and Carolyn Rose)

Visit the tutalk project webpage at

Two documents of interest on the page are:

The dialogue agent design specification:

and a workshop paper that is a gentler introduction than the design spec:

Jordan, Pamela, Ringenberg, Michael and Hall, Brian (2006). Rapidly Developing Dialogue Systems that Support Learning Studies In Proceedings of ITS06 Workshop on Teaching with Robots, Agents, and NLP.