Advances in Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) over the past two decades have enabled the development and deployment of highly effective learning technologies that support learners across a wide-range of domains and age-groups. On the other hand, research in collaborative learning has informed instructional approaches that leverage the pedagogical benefits of learning in groups (including dyads, small groups and teams). The use of these approaches in digital environments is being actively studied in the field of computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL).
In addition to the increased use of computing devices in traditional classrooms, technological advancements such as mass access to revolutionary communication technologies have prompted the adoption of web-based tools for educational purposes. Educational service providers are deploying web-based platforms that allow students to access resources that supplement classroom instruction and allow students to share their learning experience with their peers. Hundreds of hours of high quality learning content and thousands of educational games that enrich learning interactions are accessible through mobile/tablet devices.
Harmonious use of these resources and scientific developments offer opportunities for breaking new ground in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for education. Techniques developed for in the field of AI for Education (AIEd) such as student/tutor/domain modelling, integrated assessment, tutorial dialog, automated scaffolding, data mining and pedagogical agents can further improve the effectiveness of learning in groups. On the other hand, multi-party interaction and massive online learning platforms present AIEd researchers with exciting next generation challenges.
The IJAIEd Special Issue on Intelligent Support for Learning in Groups (ISLG) includes four articles that give us a brief peek at recent advances in some of these research directions. In this preface, we will characterize ISLG as a field of interest within AIEd and elaborate on the four dimensions that define the scope of this field. We will present editorial comments on the articles included in this issue followed by an outlook on the growing field of ISLG.