Chatbots in Education

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Taking the Pressure off in Education

Covid-19 has had its firm grasp on the planet since early 2020 and has affected millions. One major effect has been on the education sector. As we’ve been happy enough to work from home, there are thousands of students across the country who have barely stepped foot in their college campus let alone have face-to-face classes. It goes without saying that digital learning certainly saw an increase in 2020/21.

What are the educational challenges of today?

When we think of education we rarely think of the additional requirements of students, such as accommodation, fees, exams, resource utilisation, and so on… Students heavily rely on administrative support to get ‘set up’ and this became increasingly clear during the pandemic. Aside from this, there are also the more obvious needs that come with being a student such as study programs, seminars, exam supports, and materials etc.  With emailing and voice being the only way to reach these supports, students were disheartened at the lack of information they were getting, and the pressure institutions are under became clear. Chatbots can provide much-needed relief.

Educational institutions have been trying to fulfil these needs as students require more information. Particular challenges stem from:

  • Study services that currently deal with enquiries through voice and email. With current staff limits, response times can be exceptionally long causing frustrated students, lost prospects, and worn-out staff.
  • Study materials being extensive and compacting that information on a presentation that the site can handle makes it complex.
  • Difficult to navigate sites can waste a lot of time for the students.
  • The constantly changing restrictions of which students must remain aware.
  • Lessons and communications between students and lecturers are difficult to plan and maintain.

AI-based Chatbots are here to help. Many of the uses and benefits are obvious. They provide extra support for employees and students, especially in the case of FAQs. There are shorter waiting times with these online services capable of working simultaneously and immediately. Chatbot services are 24/7 and clearer information can be distributed instead of students having to do ‘guess work’ and discuss amongst themselves. Most importantly, chatbots can document and evaluate inquiries allowing the institution to really address the most important and frequent concerns and questions.

Chatbots prove to be effective in all core activities of educational institutions.

  1. Information on courses: A user may ask “what courses do you offer?” or “what’s the registration deadline?”.

With simple questions like these, a user can get an immediate response. However, in most cases, you will have to ask for more information. Therefore, a chatbot represents the site in a more direct manner. Instead of multiple clicks, the chatbot takes a more interactive approach to perform the function of the site and through this, we’ve since reduced bounce rates.

  1. Administration support: Questions like “is the library open” or “is this lecture online” are frequent inquiries.

Students are having to constantly consult with admin to figure out the policies and regulations which apply to them (as many universities have taken different approaches to the pandemic). Students can ask these through chat and best practices will usually see them get the answer they are looking for. This provides clarity for students and supports the institution’s employees making for a better experience.

  1. Useful reminders of tasks: Statements and reminders such as “English lit exam 1 Friday the 20th” or “registration deadline at 00:00 tonight”.

With integrated systems, the chatbots could become a student and lecturer’s new best friend. Deadlines for registration or exams can be implemented as a useful tool and especially at busy times of the year it could prove to be a vital part of the AI.

  1. Chatbots in class: they can answer students’ questions about course materials and content, it’s possible for the bots to make fun, multiple-choice tests for them, and lecturers can utilise them for the purpose of continuous feedback.

While this is a newer use of chatbots, it could be welcome employment of them to assist students and lecturers. There are skeptics who see the value of face-to-face interactions in a class. We want to emphasise that chatbots are not a means to end these interactions. Chatbots in addition to in-person learning can take a strain off both students and employees. It provides the optimal learning environment, an environment where the institution can work more efficiently therefore educating their students effectively.

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