Automated instructional design for CSCL: A hierarchical task network planning approach

Geiser Chalco Challco, Marco Aurélio Gerosa, Ig Ibert Bittencourt, Seiji Isotani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), one of the most important tasks for instructional designers is to define scenarios that foster group learning. Such scenarios, defined as Units of Learning (UoLs), comprise different components and are organized according to pedagogical approaches to orchestrate group learning processes. Examples of UoL components are learning objects, student roles, student characteristics (e.g.; background, preferences, learning styles, etc.), instructional/learning goals, and activities, among others. Thus, the instructional design (ID) of a proper UoL for CSCL is a complex task that requires practice and experience. This is particularly true when designing, developing, adapting, and customizing UoLs, taking into consideration different instructional/learning goals and individual preferences of students. This paper therefore proposes using a Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planning approach to automate and optimize the tasks of designers. To accomplish that, we define an initial CSCL scenario as "an ID task" and "a set of information related to students and the domain to be taught." Then we propose a model that formally describes ID for CSCL as HTN planning, where the initial CSCL scenario is adapted and refined according to student needs. In this model, the ID strategies are defined as hierarchical tasks and methods into a planning domain definition, and the initial CSCL scenario is defined as a planning problem definition. To validate our approach, we develop a CSCL courseware generator that (i) helps designers to set up an initial CSCL scenario; (ii) automatically generates a personalized UoL based on a given initial scenario; and (iii) supports the adaptation of UoLs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3777-3798
Number of pages22
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Automated planning
  • CSCL script design pattern
  • Collaborative learning
  • Courseware generator
  • Hierarchical task network planning
  • Instructional design
  • Unit of learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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