Advanced Distance Education (ADE)

he Advanced Distance Education project is developing tools for the creation of adaptive, Web-based courseware incorporating artificial intelligence. ADE is a project of the team at the Center for Advanced Research in Technology for Education (CARTE) at USC / ISI.

The team has been developing simulations featuring pedagogical agents - software with personality - to assist students in working through course materials. The lead character, an agent named Adele (Agent for Distance Learning Environments), interacts with students and tracks their learning as they work through course materials and simulation exercises. Adele consists of a pedagogical agent and a 2D animated persona, which is implemented as a web-based Java applet. Adele adapts the presentation of the material as needed, provides hints and rationales to guide student actions, and evaluates student performance.
Adele is currently being developed to work with both medical and dental students. She will be used in two medical education systems: case-based diagnosis and trauma care. Her current work in dentistry involves assisting students with simulation exercises for a course on geriatric patient care.

dele helps the faculty of USC's Department of Family Medicine deliver Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses on the Web. Simulations created for the course in diagnostic skill development will present the physician/student with actual cases, including patient history, results of exams, lab tests, x-rays, CT scans and other diagnostic imaging methods. By questioning and examining the virtual "patient" and studying clinical data, the student will be able to practice diagnostic skills. Adele will provide feedback and a review of the student's progress, referencing diagnostic best-practice and cost-analysis criteria. The interface for the case-based diagnosis system was created in Java.


dele's trauma simulations are being developed in collaboration with the Department of Pediatrics and Education at USC's School of Medicine. They are intended to help students sharpen their emergency-response skills and procedures for dealing with victims of trauma. Emergency room physicians must be able to respond quickly to the development of sudden complications (e.g., the patient develops breathing problems or goes into cardiac arrest) and the simulations are designed to prepare the student for any such developments.

Trauma care is a collaborative activity - physicians and paramedics work with other emergency response personnel, each of whom has a specific role to play. The trauma simulations allow students to work together on a case, adding this collaborative dimension to their learning experience. The tasks each student performs are constrained by a selected role. Adele's plan monitor includes the notion of "situations" [Marsella et. al, 1997]. A situation is a high-level description of an "interesting state" along with a description of steps to take in that situation. This representation allows Adele to recognize each situation's unique characteristics and react appropriately, with the right hints and rationales for each action the student must take.

The trauma simulations were created using Emultek's Rapid, an off-the-shelf simulation authoring tool. The Carte team is investigating the use of other off-the-shelf tools for future applications



entistry simulations are being developed with the collaboration of two Allied Health programs at the University. The simulations are being authored by faculty at the School of Dentistry, with the support of faculty and staff at the Andrus Gerontology Center.

The simulation exercises in geriatric dentistry will form the basis of Web-based courseware. Initial plans are to use the simulations to augment an existing, on-campus course. Future plans involve the use of the Web-based simulations for Distance Learning. Dental students from all over the world will eventually be able to meet Adele in the setting of a course delivered completely over the Worldwide Web.

A gallery or list of pictures taken from the diagnostic-skills development and geriatric dentistry simulations can be accessed here.

Authoring Support

Adele's simulations will be authored, not by computer scientists, but by university faculty members and other instructors. Support is being provided for defining the course materials and for supplying Adele with the subject matter knowledge she needs in order to provide a rich, fully integrated learning environment.

Relevant Publications

Team Members

Ami Adler

Rajaram Ganeshan

Lewis Johnson

Kate LaBore

Erin Shaw

Andrew Marshall