Adaptation-Oriented Culturally-Aware Tutoring Systems: When Adaptive Instructional Technologies Meet Intercultural Education

Adaptation-Oriented Culturally-Aware Tutoring Systems: When Adaptive Instructional Technologies Meet Intercultural Education

Emmanuel G. Blanchard (McGill University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-782-9.ch025
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Abstract

Modern societies have a growing need for highly specialized education and traditional educational systems have a difficult time providing solutions. E-learning applications could become an important part of the solution. With improvements in network technologies and systems’ scalability, more and more globally-distributed applications are now available. Opportunities for people from varying societies to learn synchronously have thus multiplied. This being said, systems developed in a particular cultural setting and distributed around the world without taking into account variations in learners’ cultural backgrounds pave the way for potential misunderstanding and failure of adequate teaching. How might learners’ cultural background be adequately taken into consideration? How can content displayed to learners be culturally adapted? How can the most suitable strategies of interaction in accordance with learners’ cultural specificities be selected? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this chapter.
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Background

In order to clearly understand some of the problems we are facing when designing globally distributed e-Learning applications, let us begin by giving a brief introduction to intercultural education. According to UNESCO’s guidelines (2007), intercultural education should:

  • • Respect “the cultural identity of the learner through the provision of culturally appropriate and responsive quality education for all”,

  • • Provide “every learner with the cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to achieve active and full participation in society”,

  • • Provide “all learners with cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills that enable them to contribute to respect, understanding and solidarity among individuals, ethnic, social, cultural and religious groups and nations”.

Indeed, there are many reasons to take culture and learners’ cultural differences into consideration within e-Learning systems, and as such, discuss the development of adaptive e-Learning systems aimed at providing intercultural education. Following are some examples of important e-Learning elements that have been proven to be culturally-sensitive.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intercultural Education: According to UNESCO, intercultural education should respect “the cultural identity of the learner through the provision of culturally appropriate and responsive quality education for all”, provide “every learner with the cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to achieve active and full participation in society” and, finally, provide “all learners with cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills that enable them to contribute to respect, understanding and solidarity among individuals, ethnic, social, cultural and religious groups and nations”

Multi Agents System: A Multi Agents System (MAS) is a software system composed of several agents that can be more or less complex and “intelligent”. Most of the time, these agents act together in order to reach a common goal that accomplishes more than what they could achieve individually

Pedagogical Agent: A pedagogical agent is an intelligent agent that provides interactive teaching on a subject matter according to pedagogical strategies. In virtual worlds, a body can be assigned to a pedagogical agent. This variant is called an “embodied pedagogical agent”

Upper Ontology: According to the IEEE Standard Upper Ontology Working Group, an upper ontology “is limited to concepts that are meta, generic, abstract and philosophical, and therefore are general enough to address (at a high level) a broad range of domain areas

Ontology: According to the IEEE Standard Upper Ontology Working Group, an ontology “is similar to a dictionary or glossary, but with greater detail and structure that enables computers to process its content. An ontology consists of a set of concepts, axioms, and relationships that describe a domain of interest”

Intelligent Agent: An intelligent agent is generally described as an autonomous software which has different capabilities such as reactivity, the ability to perceive its environment and to adapt to changes, proactiveness, the ability to take initiative to have a specific behavior, and social ability, the ability to communicate/interact with other agents

Culturally-Aware Tutoring System: A Culturally-Aware Tutoring System (CATS) is a specific kind of Intelligent Tutoring System, whose purpose is to provide intercultural education. CATS that try to teach intercultural skills to learners have to be distinguished of CATS that try to adapt to learners’ cultural specificities. Mixed systems are also possible

Intelligent Tutoring System: An Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) is a computer-supported learning system which uses Artificial Intelligence Techniques in order to adapt to the learner. An ITS is composed of four inter operating modules: the curriculum or expert model that contains the domain to be taught among other things, the student model that is the representation of the learner, the planner that organizes the learning session and the tutor that gives the course

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