This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project focuses on the creation of a Teacher Content Authoring System for an Intelligent Tutoring System designed for math, science, and computer science education. Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) are becoming an increasingly larger part of the education landscape. EDalytics, LLC is developing a Content Authoring System that allows teachers to integrate their own content into the cognitive modeling architecture of the ITS for computational thinking. The weCompute ITS (wITS) Content Authoring System offers a new perspective to the ITS community, and potentially transform the ways that commercial companies and research institutions approach content creation. The research plan is constructed to solicit teachers? feedback throughout the design stages to ensure their needs are met. This SBIR project focuses on teachers? ability to transform meaningful content that can be easily integrated with pre-created content models in an intelligent tutoring system. An iterative development process including user studies will help tie together content authors and software designers to produce a well-balanced product. Overall, the wITS Content Authoring System has the potential to make content authoring a distributed task in tutoring environments.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is an educational tool that will build an effective pedagogical system for STEM educators that is affordable and accessible to schools and students across the economic spectrum. A major drawback in developing intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) is the enormous investment in expert hours required to build a full library of curriculum content. Ultimately, the customers pay for the ITS publishers to recoup their investment, yet they have no way to adapt that content to their specific needs. Our solution - the the weCompute Content Authoring System - addresses both of these obstacles by improving the weCompute Intelligent Tutoring System (wITS) with a tool that educators and students can afford and modify. In addition, the wITS provides more pedagogical support for schools lacking teachers knowledgeable in the emerging content areas that define 21st century skills. Students will enjoy effective individualized instruction on subjects at low cost, since the curriculum development cost is subsidized by leveraging the power of teachers who already create curriculum materials. The decreased cost of development coupled with the inexpensive web-based delivery mechanism will allow for more content hours and wider dissemination of quality instruction.