The Place for Bots in Education
There’s no question that education faces its fair share of issues—chief among them, a hesitation or even inability to adopt new technology that could assist not only students but teachers and administrators as well.
Though many other industries have begun to use chatbots to assist with a wide variety of tasks, the educational sector has not quite reached a level at which it recognizes the potential of intelligent bots and the role they’re able to fill.
A few sources around the world, however, have taken notice of the bot trend and implemented them in the classroom with incredible results. From those initial use cases, we’re gaining more insight into how bots can meaningfully alter the face of education.
Bots as a Learning Tool
The rate at which each student learns is different, yet at the same time, there is an ever-growing push for students to learn more in a shorter span. What this inevitably leads to is educating based on averages—some students fall behind, and others grow bored as they’re forced to work at the pace of their peers.
Teachers and professors have little choice but to distribute their limited time as best they’re able to an entire class. Teaching supplements can only go so far; personal tutors are costly, and resources outside the classroom are generally in the form of books or websites—one-way interactions that lack engagement.
This is where bots come in. An intelligent bot uses NLP (natural language processing) to respond to a user’s input in a meaningful way, much like conversing with another person. If a student has questions about a lesson or a concept that they don’t quite understand, they could address these inquiries to a bot, which can then reply in an accurate and personalized way.
Not only does this turn that one-way interaction into a two-way conversation, but bots are able to “learn” each individual student over time, which allows them to better service that student’s needs in the future.
Bots as Teacher’s Assistants
As some educators are already discovering, the benefits of having a chatbot available to their students can be staggering. In education, time, funds, and resources are typically limited. If a teacher or professor receives twenty emails asking when a paper or assignment is due, the time it takes to answer each one detracts from that educator’s productivity and, by extension, ability to truly focus on educating young minds.
Here are just a few ways in which bots can help:
• Answering commonly-asked questions about deadlines and curriculums.
• Providing students with information about lesson plans and resources.
• Issuing teacher evaluations and streamlining the data collection process.
• Staying up to date on education standards and new assessment models.
Furthermore, bots can be useful beyond just educators; administrators and bursars can equally benefit from their ability to automate tasks like filing applications, accepting tuition payments, assigning schedules, and providing answers to questions that they might otherwise get from dozens of students each and every school year. In short, bots create a one-stop shop for information in nearly any digital form.
The Omni-Channel Appeal
Whenever new technology breaks, it’s typically the younger generations that adopt it first—the so-called millennials and even more recent “Generation Z.” This is an enormous advantage to education, as these are the generations that are mostly populating schools and universities.
As tech and taste changes, it is these younger generations that are quicker to transition; case in point, recent trends are moving en masse from specific, single-purpose apps to general messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, and others.
The chatbot advantage is that with a platform like SnatchBot, bots can be deployed to any number of these channels with a single click; essentially, the bots can be where the students already are. With bots, there’s no need for multiple email accounts or to log into an education portal; students can simply message a bot on their preferred platform and get a response in seconds.
This sort of personalized self-service platform not only fosters loyalty but also engages the student in a way that is immediately recognized as valuable. Educational institutions that also recognize the added value of bot usage will find that they are less expensive to develop than traditional systems, and can increase productivity in both student and administrator alike.