Accomplishments and Advancements
The STTC is a large group of researchers and developers based in Orlando, Florida. The group became part of HRED within the past few years. The STTC’s efforts are directed at advancing the Army’s simulation-based capabilities in training, experimentation, analysis, and operational Army needs. Simulation is seen as a cost-effective response to these needs. The pace and diversity of U.S. Army missions require a rapid, responsive training capability. Moreover, in a variety of situations (e.g., adaptive tutoring), training by the use of artificially intelligent agents has been shown to produce better results than has more conventional training.
The STTC designs specific simulations (e.g., simulations of battlefield medical situations), as well as general tools for simulation (e.g., the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring framework) to make it possible for others to rapidly create new training modules for new content areas.
The STTC has the program management for a University Affiliated Research Center, the Institute for Creative Technology (ICT) at the University of Southern California. The ICT receives 100 percent of the STTC basic research (6.1) funding. The ICT is reviewed by a separate Army assessment board. The ARLTAB was not asked to review the ICT, which limits the scope of the evaluation of STTC presented in this report.
The STTC includes five programs:
1. The purpose of the Adaptive and Intelligent Training Technologies Program is to design, develop, apply, and assess artificially intelligent agent technologies (e.g., adaptive tutoring and virtual human tools and methods) to enhance training effectiveness and reduce costs. An important emphasis is on developing tools that allow others (i.e., researchers, instructional designers, training developers, and trainers) to quickly author new training modules so that artificial tutors can be created for different training needs as they arise. The conscious effort to develop a broadly applicable framework has produced the STTC’s generalized intelligent framework of tutoring (GIFT), which is a sensible and useful tool for the development and evaluation of intelligent training systems.
2. The Synthetic Environments Program develops improvements in synthetic environment modeling, with a particular emphasis on dynamic effects such as changes in weather and lighting.
3. The Immersive Learning Program investigates the issues raised when these synthetic environments are used as learning environments. In addition to studying what makes for a realistic, compelling environment, the program is attempting to address whether or not immersive environments actually promote learning. To the extent that the immersive situation provides an effective version of time-on-task training, it would be expected to lead to better learning outcomes (e.g., skills acquisition, retention, and transfer to the field).
4. Obviously, the above work is related to the Training Applications Program, which creates and tests specific examples of training applications software programs. The training applications program focuses on domain-specific research such as medical training, dismounted soldier training, or ground platform training.
5. The Advanced Distributed Simulation Program focuses on conducting research and developing technology to facilitate local and geographically distributed interactions between models and simulations.
These programs constitute a generally impressive program of work, although comparatively few program details were presented. The panel has not seen the facilities nor met many of the staff.
STTC staff has made impressive efforts to link STTC work to broader work in the field.