There is a new teacher in town. You may not have met them in person. May not have seen them on LinkedIn or any University bulletin boards. It is very unlikely any of the existing teachers know about them. Because the new teacher does not has a physical existence. It is a chatbot. A product of Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) that is getting into classrooms with the mission to help students learn better, understand better, and also assist them better, just like how a virtual assistant helps adults lead a sane life.
In a study conducted by PwC, 58% of respondents affirmed that AI is important to solve problems at a global level. (Source)
In the 21-st century world of education, chatbots are bringing a fresh wave of optimism. Both teachers and students who have become well-acquainted with digital mediums of communication and collaboration find chatbots to be a natural extension of their daily lives. Fortunately, chatbots also have several educational applications. Some of which are discussed below:
Heightened student engagement
There are several challenges that a teacher has to confront while trying to tutor a crowded classroom. One among them is providing adequate attention and care to each individual student. Each student has their own pace of learning. Also, they have unique doubts which in given the short time span of a class, might be insufficient to clarify.
Chatbots can lend a helping hand here. They can act as an intermediary between teachers and students. Students can shoot questions to a chatbot based on subjects, sub-topics, and FAQs. The chatbots, based on the knowledge base it is fed with, can provide canned responses to the student. This heightens student engagement as they are able to find instant answers to their questions even if a teacher is not available to attend to them.
Exams & Feedback management
According to McKinsey, an average teacher in the US works for at least 50 hours but spends less than 49% of the time interacting with students. Their working time is torn between several allied activities that make them able to go in front of a class and deliver a lesson.
Planning for tests, conducting exams, and providing feedback on student papers are all difficult to manage. Although not extensive, chatbots can definitely be of aid to teachers in this scenario. They can spare teachers from the grind of having to mark papers late in the night or even fill out paperwork to put the feedback in a proper system.
With chatbots, they can automate the process of marking standardized tests. In fact, OCR-based answer sheets have already become the norm in schools. It is only a matter of time before they become the norm in professional courses as well.
Behind their digital interfaces, chatbots are data-collecting machines. They can record every single conversation that has with students and teachers. Analyzing this data can lead to a better understanding of the pain points that students have and how they can be solved by designing the curriculum around them.
For example, analyzing the most frequently asked questions by students can be analyzed to understand sub-topics that might need a deep dive. Inserting such sections into the curriculum will result in enhanced learning.
Similarly, sections that are no longer relevant or have become obsolete can also be identified with the help of data analysis.
Smart teaching aids
In a typical classroom setup, the teaching aids are often restricted to textbooks and some visual depictions. From a student’s point of view, these are insufficient to grasp the topic in detail. In fact, the lack of detailing can make them even averse to the topic.
Take, for example, biology and the work of the digestive system. The lengthy digestion process explained in the text can be extremely difficult for a junior grade student to understand. They need visually rich learning aids to understand the concepts better.
With chatbots, teachers can easily create a workflow for each chapter section, enrich them with visual elements, and make them accessible for students at scale. A one-time investment to create the visual assets can be used for several batches and classes. The end result of using these smart teaching aids is a better learning experience.
Up-to-date institutional information
Every educational institution, like a school or a University, is affiliated to a central educational body that is either managed autonomously or by the government. These educational institutions have to manage their affairs based on the protocols set by the governing body.
Right from the curriculum to the exam dates, everything is mandated by this governing body. The challenge in this system is that there is a huge information gap when it comes to passing the information to the school authorities down to the teachers, and then to the students.
The repository of information is universally accessible but is not always presented in a manner that is easily searchable for teachers and students. A chatbot can turn around this challenge. It can provide quick answers to questions relating to exam dates, curriculum updates, and other institutional information that is hard to distribute to all stakeholders.
Chatbots are often looked upon as digital tools that can be used only for customer service or for enterprise use cases. However, they do have extensive applications in other areas as well, especially education, where personal interaction is a must.
Chatbots are not going to take away the personal interaction that teachers and students have. Instead, they will automate certain parts of the process that slows down things for both the parties. Chatbots will take the role of virtual assistants who can help teachers deliver their lessons with relative ease while students can use them for real-time doubt clarification.
In the future, students will have chatbots as a friendly partner who can help them tackle the little challenges that often come in the way while pursuing higher education.
Srushti Shah is an ambitious, passionate and out of the box thinking woman having vast exposure in Digital Marketing. She is working as a Digital Marketer and Content writer at Acquire. Her key focus is to serve her clients with the latest innovation in her field leading to fast and effective results. Working beyond expectations and delivering the best possible results is her professional motto. Other than work, she loves traveling, exploring new things and spending quality time with family. Reach out to Srushti Shah on Twitter or LinkedIn