Task Tutor Toolkit (T3) for Technical Training




In many situations, there exist procedures, guidelines, and strategies that describe correct or preferred actions to be taken within each situation. Detailed procedures specify exact sequences of button presses, switch activations, and other low-level actions for each situation. Higher-level guidelines and strategies guide the selection of specific, lower-level actions, but do not specify these actions directly.NASA uses training simulations so that space and ground personnel can practice and hone their skills. Typically, instructors are needed to monitor and evaluate each student’s performance and provide help and instructional feedback that complements the “natural feedback” provided by the simulator. Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) complement simulators by providing automated instruction when it is not economical or feasible to dedicate an instructor to each student during these exercises.


To lower the cost and difficulty of creating scenario-based intelligent tutoring systems for technical training, Stottler Henke developed the Task Tutor Toolkit™ (T3), a generic tutoring system shell and scenario authoring tool. This system enables the instructor to create procedure templates that specify the range of actions that are “correct” within each scenario and the knowledge and skills that are demonstrated when the student carries out each sequence of actions. The instructor creates these templates without programming, using a graphical user interface to demonstrate, generalize, and annotate sequences of actions to be recognized by the tutoring system.At the end of each scenario, the tutor displays the principles correctly or incorrectly demonstrated by the student, along with explanations and background information. The annotated procedure templates also enable the system to provide hints when the student asks “What do I do now?” and “Why do I do that?” The Task Tutor Toolkit was designed to be modular so that it can be interfaced with a wide range of training simulators and support a variety of training domains.Stottler Henke and NASA used the Task Tutor Toolkit to create the Remote Payload Operations Tutor (RPOT), a tutoring system that lets scientists who are new to space mission operations learn to monitor and control their experiments aboard the International Space Station according to payload regulations, guidelines, and procedures.


Stottler Henke re-engineered the Task Tutor Toolkit and released it as a product in November 2002. The Task Tutor Toolkit product also includes a discrete event simulation engine and user interface to support rapid prototyping of integrated simulation-based tutors.

Related Applications

The Task Tutor Toolkit can be used to lower the cost of tutoring systems to teach people how to use complex hardware and software systems in the context of organizational guidelines and business processes.  In addition to learning the “buttonology” of these systems, students can acquire the higher-level decision-making skills needed to assess each situation, identify appropriate problems and goals, select relevant equipment and software capabilities, and execute procedures to employ those capabilities.

Additional Information

The Task Tutor Toolkit was included in NASA Spinoff 2003, NASA’s annual catalog of successful spinoff technologies developed with NASA funding.   Task Tutor Toolkit product overview  PDF  

Video demonstrations: Windows Media Video (WMV):

Running tutoring scenarios (3MB, 5 mins)
Authoring tutoring scenarios (6MB, 10 mins)
Task Tutor Toolkit embedded within CITTP, a prototype NASA tutoring system for payload operations (14MB, 5 mins)


Video demonstrations: AVI with TSCC Codec

AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference and Exhibition presentation: Rapid Development of Scenario-Based Simulations and Tutoring Systems       

I/ITSEC 2005 presentation: Rapid Authoring of Task Knowledge for Training and Performance Support       

I/ITSEC 2005 presentation: Team Training with Simulated Teammates     

I/ITSEC 2000 presentation: Intelligent Tutoring Systems for Procedural Task Training of Remote Payload Operations at NASA