spending time outside of the sessions with other conference attendees

posted Jun 25, 2010, 6:15 AM by Jack Mostow   [ updated Jun 25, 2010, 6:16 AM ]

            Attending ITS this year was particularly enlightening as I had no contact with intelligent tutoring systems before I arrived at grad school. It was very interesting to learn about all of the other goals that were being pursued by researchers in this field outside of my school. However, as much as I learned from the conference sessions themselves, I learned even more from spending time outside of the sessions with other conference attendees.

            I come from a psychology background, and most of the people I spent time with were from computer science, which helped to give a greater reference frame on what we are trying to accomplish together. Also, since we were from different fields (and, at times, different countries), we tended to learn about a lot more than just intelligent tutoring systems. For example, I spent an evening with two computer scientists from Seattle who were planning on beginning their own research in the realm of ITS. Not only was I able to tell them about a lot of the type of mechanisms (language processing, pedagogical agents, etc.) that are present in the systems on which I work, but I was also able to learn a lot more about the field of computer science based on how they explained where they were coming from.

            In addition to broadening my perspective on the collective work we do on these systems, I was also surprised to find that the work of which I am a part is highly respected in the field. A lot of times, it can be discouraging grinding out what seem like useless tools and ideas on my projects; however, when these tools and ideas are shared in a forum like ITS, it is a joy to see people take interest and take note as this tool or idea may be able to solve a problem which they are having. I truly felt like the work that I do helps contribute to more than just my own projects, which has helped motivate me to get back to work with a renewed vigor.