Education will be one of the sectors that will be revolutionized by chatbots
Education will be one of the sectors that will be revolutionized by chatbots, which give students an active learning experience that can be far more engaging than simply reading text or watching a lecture. SnatchBot provides a great platform for educators to create their own chatbots and such effective, interactive learning experiences. Gaurav Tekriwal is a passionate advocate of Vedic Maths and has used SnatchBot’s platform to create bots that teach Math. As this is a powerful and important example for educators, we caught up with Gaurav to ask him some questions about his experience in creating these bots.
1. You came to SnatchBot with a vision for how you would like to teach Vedic Maths. Can you say something more about this vision?
Sure. Firstly, thanks for the questions you’ve sent. It’s a pleasure to answer them.
I am a Math teacher. I have been teaching Vedic Maths for the last 18 years. Vedic Maths is the World’s fastest mental math system and you can calculate very quickly with this method. In my endeavor to promote Vedic Maths and to make Math fun I’ve tried using various media for the same.
I started with doing Workshops and Seminars back in 2000. Because of the immense response I made up a website and founded the organization Vedic Maths Forum India. I even wrote books and shot DVDs to promote the subject. Thereafter we got active on social media and made an App. I also got an opportunity to take this subject pan India via television programs on two of India’s largest DTH (direct to home) companies. And It’s now the age of Chatbots and AI. I see chatbots as an immense potential to solve the problems of Math education which we are going through. I want to talk about it for a minute.
Globally we are facing a crisis in Math education. Math phobia is prevalent globally among students, teachers and even parents. There is an acute scarcity of math teachers around the world — so much so that no one wants to become a Math teacher anymore. The quality of lesson delivery in classrooms is poor and private tutoring options are expensive and unaffordable.
In the bot-based model, the teachers can guide a greater number of students at any given time and be present round the clock 24|7. The bot will take care of your performance and even tell you which areas you need to focus on to get a better score.
The Math chatbot takes care of the problems of scale. The quality of lesson delivery is great and standardized. The bot is affordable and doesn't cost a bomb to use it and it's very personalized. With these benefits I think that the bot will start to cause a massive disruption in the years to come causing a paradigm shift in the way everyone learns Mathematics.
2. Do you believe that chatbots can successfully teach the method? Even for advanced topics, like cube roots say?
Yes. Just like a teacher teaches you and communicates with you by the question and answer approach, same with bots. Also, just like the teacher writes on the blackboard for everyone to see, same here in the bot too. In fact, the bot medium is great because now the teacher can show images and videos and answer questions too. We have built in the cube root bot in this and you can try it out.
Also, this is just the beginning I feel. The chatbot can be enabled via text to speech too and the English language can be translated into different languages too. So, you can have a great medium to make Math easier and simple. Furthermore, to take this a step further, few years down the line, you could project a digital hologram of yourself at the student’s home and the teaching experience would be just as smooth.
3. How many bots are you using at the moment? How many do you think you'll end up using?
We are using over 15 bots now in this module on Vedic Math. We will now take up other Math modules like Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, SAT/GMAT etc. which will be more towards the mainstream education. So, over a span of say a year from now, you can expect us to launch over 100 to 200 individual bots towards these topics to help students with Mathematics.
4. How important to your goal is it that SnatchBot is free? And that it doesn't matter how many interactions take place, there is no charge.
We want to open this up to as many students globally as possible. We want students to explore these new ways to learn Math via bot-based Education. It is a step in the right direction. People are opening up to new avenues to learn and hopefully because of the advantage of this system we expect it to cause disruption in the way people learn Maths in the next 5-7 years.
During this period if Snatchbot is free and it doesn’t matter how many interactions takes place – it would help us in the long run – say over the next five years. And once it’s mainstream, we can definitely make it affordable for all stakeholders to use.
5. Can the chatbots manage hundreds of users at the same time?
Yes! It can. Because Snatchbot is hosted on AWS platform which is known for its scalability and reliability.
6. Do you have any user feedback? Do you think they are happy learning in this way?
We did two surveys at different stages before going to market. And shared the same with our existing teachers and students. They loved it. Some of them also remarked that they never thought education could be made interesting in this way! They found it uber cool, because they are on Facebook Messenger always!
7. Did you know you can attach Chatbase, Google's chatbots analytics company, to each bot for free? That will help spot any weak points where conversations might falter?
No. I didn’t know that. I just asked our dev team to look into it. Thanks for this input!
8. Have you any advice for other educationalists about using chatbots?
Teaching is an amazing thing. We just need to explore new ways to teach and your students will love and thank you for it. You can make learning fun for everybody using technology. Go for it with all your passion!
To find out more about Gaurav Tekriwal and Vedic Math, visit www.vedicmathsindia.org
To start building a chatbot that can conduct tests, keep scores and give feedback, see our template here.
Caption to image: Gaurav Tekriwal giving a TED talk, New York.