Chatbots Driving Success in the Education Vertical
Chatbots Driving Success in the Education Vertical
One of the hot growth areas in chatbots, where serious levels of engagement is a key issue, is the education vertical. Growing numbers of students, both on campus and learning through remote teaching, see faculties, facilities and individual teachers pushed to answer an ever-rising number of questions.
The growth of chatbots has had an impact on most industries, but with its focus on the young and technology-accepting generations, colleges, schools and other institutions are at the forefront of brave developments to push the technology beyond traditional customer services. Bots are easy to build and update, provide instant feedback and can instantly help improve the quality of education while helping to free up finite staff and teaching resources.
Chatbots are one of the leading technologies for 2019 according to Campus Technology. And it is easy to see why, students are fragile, may be moving away from home for the first time, put under a lot of peer pressure, and may be scared to talk to a course leader or professional, all of which puts bots in pole position to answer a lot of basic fresher-type information, detailed queries and to deal with some emotionally charged issues.
While education globally faces similar issues to business, it is also becoming an increasingly commercial proposition for universities and academies, requiring IT solutions to the growing numbers problems they face. Also, rising nations seek to attract students from around the world, challenging older institutions to modernise, encouraging them to develop bots that play a key role when it comes to marketing and delivery of courses.
Educating Your College Chatbot
For example, The University of Adelaide uses a chatbot to ease the workload of busy staff during results time, to help those figuring out their placement plans. And globally, attracting new students has moved on from glossy brochures, open days and selling courses because relatives or distant ancestors studied there.
In 2019, students have the world’s top colleges to pick from, cheap travel and the bravery to study abroad in growing numbers. With easy access to lifestyle and social data to find the best places to study and live, plus a deeper understanding of what courses offer, and how they are rated compared to previous generations, making that data accessible and promoting an institute can be tricky. To that end, more colleges provide bots to engage with prospects and prove they are capable of talking to students using their tech and platforms.
With most colleges increasingly businesslike in their approach, with large volumes of internal customers priorities are largely inward focused. Turning to bots helps provide marketing and initiation/onboarding facilities for all stakeholders. Bots can reduce the time it takes students to find courses, and make learning itself and student life easier. Georgia Tech’s Pounce chatbot is one example where it helps students in their courses and has answered over 200,000 questions while reducing the challenge of “summer melt” (people not taking up their course) by 22%
Bots can also be used to provide course feedback and teaching-assistant style advice, as they become more familiar with courses, and more mundane queries like timekeeping, where lessons are being held, enrollment queries and so on. As a fast-evolving part of “intelligent campus” projects, campus chatbots can help students through their smartphone or laptop, with class reminders, study notes and much more,
Teachers will also use bots in the classroom to help refine teaching practices. Using them as digital teaching assistants, freeing up time for teachers to handle important interactions with students. As we have witnessed in other businesses areas and markets, the bots handle the common everyday tasks, helping to make staff roles in education more impactful and protect roles rather than threaten jobs.
For remote courses, bots can also help provide information and even deliver tests to students anywhere in the world on their notebooks or devices. Helping provide instant results, and feedback on qualitative answers to help improve student knowledge. Teaching and revision bots can provide ad hoc tests, ping pupils with reminders of key facts or required reading. They could be used to help assist in preparing for tests, translations for language-based courses and encourage more interactive teaching.
Growth in Learning as a Service
A key trend in education is the move away from full-time courses to remote and self-learning, evening courses and other forms of training. Bots and other tools can help provide desktop-based learning with a greater degree of response and feedback compared to traditional distance and e-learning efforts.
Over 10 years, Khan Academy has moved from a one-man band to a global teaching house, providing free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. The likes of Udemy charges a small fee for specific knowledge-based IT, creative and other courses. These and others offer online learning on any device.
It is not only traditional colleges that can provide lessons. America’s Planned Parenthood chatbot for sex education aims to spread the word of safe and responsible attitudes to sex at a time when the Republican Right is cutting back on funding for such efforts. Similarly, the Climate Council is offering advice to the young on environmental issues via its chatbot to raise awareness. As younger generations get used to lessons via bot, all types of church, charity and other types of institution can spread their word this way.
Bots could soon help deliver core syllabus lessons, offer quick learning bites or short refresher lessons to see what people remember from the main lectures. They could also help answer students’ questions, leveraging previous answers, AI or deep research to find to the deeper questions that students might have.
Chatbot data can also be used in conjunction with dashboard features like sentiment analysis to study how much students learn from and enjoy their studies, helping to provide adjustments if the pupil or the subject matter aren’t getting on at an individual level. Colleges have data that can be used to train bots, providing the basis for rapid deployment to social media or college sites and apps.
Bots can also support front office staff, helping them deal with common student queries. They can also help at-risk students by providing non-confrontational ways to get in touch and discuss mental health or other problems. Like this Irish SnatchBot-created bot that helps respond to personal queries.
Education is set for huge changes in the coming decade. Chatbots will play a key role in help students choose courses and institutions. Helping market and run courses more efficiently and making them more accessible helps to reduce costs and increase the level of student success.
The Rise of the Class Bot
Users of the SnatchBot platform responses show a narrow lead for the education sector above other verticals, highlighting bots importance to education. From enrollment to time-keeping, and teaching itself, chatbots can play a major part, but also offer so much more potential.
At Georgia Tech, Professoe Ashok K. Goel uses bots in class to help refine teaching practices as digital teaching assistants. They free up time for the human tutors to handle more pressing matters. As we have seen in other markets, chatbots can take over some of the grunt work, making teaching more enjoyable, increasing the positive impact lecturers and staff have on pupils!
Looking forward, an Elearning Industry piece, predicts tests moderated by chatbots will produce instant results and save on marking time. A French chatbot Pipplet is already helping students improve their English. Generally, teaching and revision bots will remind students of key facts or issues at timely intervals, to help aid revision, while aiding the transition from book-based to online learning.
Also in the U.S., the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) reports how A.I. Is infiltrating every corner of the campus. This shows that once bots start to appear, people will find new and innovative uses for them.
As education moves away from rote-based learning, the rise of learn-as-you-like is growing, especially among colleges and remote learning courses. Some current examples are highlighted by TechEmergence including foreign language tutoring.
At the basic level, most schools are seeing ever-rising numbers of pupils, growing classes, new subject areas and a growing volume and level of administration. Chatbots could help unify many of these systems, such as attendance, lunch menus/payments, school trips, absences and other issues, freeing the admin staff to focus on key issues and essential tasks.
As they become more universal for students, chatbots can also help monitor mental health. Intel’s iQ bot is an early example. Many colleges are looking for better ways to help prevent self-harm, bullying and suicide, and bots using AI could be a major benefit of technology as they get to know students, and understand their emotional state through conversations.
While bots will never replace parents, teaching and health professionals, being able to help trigger a silent alarm could prevent harm and save lives, which will help drive acceptance around controversial areas.
Further still, in a high-AI future, connected chatbots with access to the careers market could also help pair the right students with career opportunities. That could range from helping someone with no real idea of their career options by highlighting appropriate opportunities, or to bring high achievers to the attention of hirers.
With so much potential, it is hard to imagine a lot of this coming true, but chatbots are already accelerating from being a basic customer service drone, and as IT services get smarter the range of connected services and the degree of nuance within a bot could become something spectacular to help educators and students get the best start in life.
The future is bright for bots in education
Since the chatbot market is still a young one, there are huge possibilities and opportunities for them in the education market. Eventually, we will come to the point where classrooms are empty and robots taking the course with a fully conversant system handling complex subjects and debates. But until then, bots and staff will work in increasing harmony to deliver the best results and manage the student body more efficiently.
Chatbots will certainly help boost distance learning, capable of teaching any time, anywhere, and with language plug-ins can become a universal tool to bring education to places where learning has cultural stigmas or education is rare or expensive. This sort of development could help change humanity for the better, and we wait with interest to see how the role of the robotic teacher can benefit education and students as a whole.
Naturally, bots will also be used to promote controversial, regressive and some offensive content. There will be headlines and pushback against the technology, but the potential for good far outweighs any negative use.