Education & Training Knowledge Mgmt & Discovery Planning & Scheduling Decision Support Autonomous Systems
Intelligent Simulation-Based Tutoring Nets Efficiencies Training Tactical Action Officers

Customer U.S. Navy
Users Tactical action officer students and their instructors

For years the Surface Warfare Officer’s School (SWOS) has used a Tactical Action Officer (TAO) watchstation simulation for training its TAOs. This simulation-based training program required one instructor for every two students to play the role of team members and to evaluate the students’ performance. SWOS’s desire to deploy the desktop-based TAO watchstation simulation, called PORTS, to their electronic classroom with 42 student seats made this 2:1 ratio unacceptable. Additionally there was a need to allow students to practice on their own, off-hours, when no instructors were available. The requirements clearly necessitated the development of software agents to play the role of team members (Automated Role Players or ARPs); to evaluate, coach and debrief the students on their performance; and to select appropriate scenarios to practice their weaknesses when they were on their own. The success of an earlier TAO Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) convinced SWOS of the capability of this technology to greatly decrease the number of instructors needed for simulated tactical decision-making practice.

Solution Stottler Henke developed an ITS that works with PORTS, the Northrop Grumman- developed watchstation simulator being used at SWOS in Rhode Island. The PORTS TAO ITS has a speech-enabled graphical user interface that more accurately represents how a TAO actually works on board a Navy ship by enabling the student to converse with simulated crew members to issue commands and receive information. Additionally, the ITS employs intelligent agents, rather than instructors, to play the roles of simulated crew members. This greatly reduces and/or eliminates the need for an instructor to conduct effective TAO training. The tutor automatically evaluates the student’s performance in real-time and infers tactical principles that were applied correctly, or not applied, so it can coach the student during each scenario. Instructors can create new scenarios through simple authoring tools provided. The interpretation of student utterance by the automated speech recognition system is displayed in an utterance editor for confirmation before processing by the ARPs and evaluation agents. However, this editor is rarely used as the per-word recognition accuracy is over 97% and in the rare instances misinterpretations can be corrected by repeating the utterance.

PORTS TAO ITS has been completed and is currently being used to train tactical action officer students at the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) in Rhode Island.

The US Navy Surface Warfare Officer's School received an Excellence in Practice Award from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) for their use the Tactical Action Officer ITS and other intelligent tutoring systems. more...

Developing authoring tools to facilitate the creation of ITSs is an ongoing area of research. PORTS ITS was developed using FlexiTrainer, an authoring framework for the rapid creation of pedagogically rich and performance-oriented learning environments with custom content and tutoring strategies.

Hierarchical finite state machines are an effective technique for implementing intelligent behaviors in dynamic, free-play simulations. They also enable rapid development of intelligent assessment routines that monitor and evaluate student performance within free-play simulations. The SimBionic® intelligent agent toolkit enables non-programmers to create finite state machines easily.



Video demonstrations:

NAWCTSD Factsheet about PORTS ITS

The Navy's description of this system

A Very Serious Training Game Yields Performance Improvement for Navy Officers, in PerformanceXpress, the newsletter of the International Society for Performance Improvement.

Press releases:

4.19.06 - Stottler Henke Wins $2.5 Million Contract to Enhance and Extend Intelligent Tutoring System for U.S. Navy

11.18.99 - U.S. Navy Extends to the High Seas the Use of Stottler Henke's Intelligent Tutoring System for Tactics Training

I/ITSEC 2000 conference paper: Tactical Action Officer Intelligent Tutoring System (TAO ITS) 

I/ITSEC 2001 conference paper: Transitioning an ITS Developed for Schoolhouse Use to the Fleet: TAO ITS, a Case Study 

I/ITSEC 2001 conference paper: Applying a Generic Intelligent Tutoring System Authoring Tool to Specific Military Domains TAO ITS, a Case Study 

Copyright © 2002-2004 Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.